A garden as our place in Heaven? Why not a garden after all Adam and Eve, the Bible tells us, started out in a garden with God? Fundamentalists have been looking for that Garden ever since here on earth. I know the creation story is myth just as the description of Heaven in Revelations is allegory and mystical symbolism. Mystics, like the author of Revelations, use symbolism to describe their experience; earthly places just do not compare. As it is written in the Bible, our place in Heaven is “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” and thus cannot be described in physical terms. It can only be described by mystics and poets. The Garden of Eden is also a mystical revelation of the true nature of Heaven. It was not an actual place on earth that existed, as Fundamentalists believe, in the physical realm. Yes, anyone with a strong desire to be a hermit, can well believe existing in a place like the Garden of Eden for all eternity with God is truly Heaven. The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were with God and content and happy until they disobeyed God – evil had entered the garden. Some Jews as well as Christians believe the Garden of Eden was intended to be the eternal dwelling place of those who believe. A garden place in Heaven certainly would be Pat’s preference. She prayed that her dad would have a garden place (his dreamed of maple grove) in Heaven in her poem to her dad,
The Maple Grove
E.E.S. August 25, 1908 April 19, 1973
You never left us so before:
with no goodbye,
without a word of your return.
The masters of ceremonies tried to persuade us
you were the one lying silent
in a room heavy with flowers,
the only actor
without a speaking part.
I knew you were not there.
Others, with faces solemnly arranged
(so unlike your own)
told us you were gone
golden with angels, eternally serene.
may be so. I don’t know.
Such distant joys seem less real
than what I see
in your brothers’ faces,
in your children’s voices:
shared looks, laughter inherited.
Perhaps you also evaded the angels,
and went to find
the home you often dreamed of:
the maple grove.
I believe our place, Pat’s and my place in Heaven, is indeed a garden just as she described in her poem to me in 1970:
You love me royally, as I love you,
seated together in our garden Kingdom,
keeping up our silent conversation,
clothed in robes of joy of every hue.
For us, our royal love has had no parallel:
It rooted, grew, and like a miracle
spread to the garden where in now we sit,
Clothed in the fragrance of God in it.
And this long miracle is to discover
the inmost me and you,
to nurse no longing for another,
to forge the soul and its desire together
gently, openly and forever.
Nothing grows but common flowers
outside our Kingdom’s wall.
Here alone the magic lies.
We ask nothing; we have all.
For Pat and me our place in Heaven is a garden Kingdom …. clothed in the fragrance of God. the scent of lilacs! There is nowhere else I’d rather be than in a lilac dell with God and thee, my beloved Patricia, for all eternity. She got it right yet again. She understood me as no other because we are soulmates forever. That Lilac grove garden with Pat, well I can go there in my mind simply by concentrating. The green, the light blue lilacs, the warmth, the sunlight, Pat, and the calm and great Peace, I can call them up at well. WOW what a gift. I can even smell the lilacs.
Now as to where Pat is now. “A lot of Christians … assume that the Kingdom of Heaven means the place where you go when you die — if you’ve been good. But the problem with this interpretation is that Jesus himself specifically contradicts it when he says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now). It’s not later, but lighter — some more subtle quality or dimension of experience accessible to you right in the moment. You don’t die into it: you awaken into it” — Cynthia Bourgeault in ‘The Wisdom of Jesus”. Yes, this is what I believe; death is the birth of the resurrection body. According to Christ’s words, (Luke 23:43) I believe Pat joined Christ that very day of her death, in paradise. My beloved departed spouse is neither asleep in Christ’s arms nor in Purgatory. She is awake and quite alive both in Christ and in me.
Anglicans do not believe in Purgatory. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” In other words, to be a part of the kingdom of God required a certain humility (“poor in spirit”). Pat’s diary showed she felt unworthy of entering Heaven. She hoped to spend some time in Purgatory so she could grow spiritually into Heaven. This despite Anglicans not believing in Purgatory. Article XXII. Of Purgatory. The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God. So, Pat went directly to Heaven which is here and now and within us all with the communion of saints.
The candles went out but the dawn came and Pat is awake in Heaven in the arms of Christ!