Sunday, March 3, 2019

Prairie gal touched by Paradise Gardens

Joyce Sasse, Lenten Musings
- The TV series “Paradise Gardens” whisked me back to wonderful experiences of traveling through India, Kashmir and the Middle East more than half a life-time ago.  Host Monty Don carefully and repeatedly described the essential role the oasis-like gardens of Islamic lands play in the psyche of desert people.

Having spent a good deal of my life on Canada’s prairie desert known as the Palliser Triangle, I well understand what he is saying. After travelling through such arid, sun-scorched, wind-blown landscapes, how we anticipate coming on oasis-like places that have shade, water, greenery and the fragrance of moisture!

Memories, too, come back of visiting the Mughal Garden of Shalimar in Kashmir, of feeling the gentle exuberance of the fountains and water features that reflected the Taj Mahal (Agra, India) and of hearing the songs of myriad birds in a Kibbutz alongside the Sea of Galilee. Feelings of oneness still stir deep within my being.

Naming these as “Paradise Gardens” also casts new understanding on my Old Testament and Christian studies concerning the Garden of Eden. No longer is Eden a simple metaphor for a beginning to spiritual awareness and rebellion. Its meaning has become much richer and deeper than I here-to-fore imagined.

The Ancient Persian word for a walled garden is ‘paradeiza’ – which gives us paradise.

Is not Paradise understood to be a place of safety and harmony, the promise of heaven on earth? A Paradise Garden is a welcoming place where people gather, rest and find renewal for their spirits.

Might this be suggestive of the deep feelings for the gifts of the Creator our Aboriginal friends have imbedded in their DNA? It is with respect for “our Mother the Earth” they take care not to over-harvest a root, a seed, an animal … and leave a thank-offering in return.

In the weeks to come I want to rethink our connection with the Paradise Garden of Eden … and with our Easter Faith.

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