(Matthew 5: 21-37)
Imagine we’ve never left Eden.
Imagine the wide Earth is the garden
and we’ve never tasted bitter exile,
enjoying for more than just a while
the miraculous abundance God has granted.
And imagine here, among all the planted
flowers and fruits, grasses and trees,
room enough to do (mostly) as we please
for Cain and Abel and me and you and
others; no need for anyone to lift a hand
against another. No need for jealousy,
resentment, bitterness or envy. . .
What do you think? Would it be
that way, would there be harmony,
no broken relationships, no feelings
hurt, no joys crushed; in all our dealings
only fairness, caring, kindness;
no greed, no self-centered blindness
to the needs of the neighbour? Could
that be us, living in our Eden? Or would
it be the case that even so the heart
would show itself to contain many parts,
like closets hidden behind different doors,
and in those shadowed corners
the usual sources of human pain –
such as the self-will that again and again
through time has been indifferent to love
and justice: that when push has come to shove
there is me and there is you, and you
just have to move, will have to lose. True?
And if so, then our separateness
from one another, this awful brokenness
that inhabits so much of daily life
would haunt us still, the sources of strife
found not in our surroundings, but inside
ourselves. Which means nowhere to hide
when the squabbling breaks out
that’s banned in the garden, the shouts
of anger or hurt, the salt tears flowing
(or hidden in pride), rifts growing
worse. . . and the spiral down beginning,
each side claiming right, unaware of sinning.
How easy it becomes for retaliation
to be tried; how hard for reconciliation
to occur. Yet that is what Christ
stands for, of course: reconciliation, the price
(in cross-shaped currency) to overcome
injustice’s hurt and whatever’s wrong
between others and ourselves.
Oh, it’s difficult – tough shells
of distrust and defensiveness
may need to be breached, forgiveness
may not be granted. But the effort
must be made. Enter the desert
of vulnerability displayed. Take
the risk of the open heart. Rake
the coals away from the fires of pain.
And offer thanks for a healing gained.
Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King