When I was a little girl, I remember going to the AME church on alternate Sunday mornings and singing the hymn “Blessed Quietness.” The refrain goes like this:
Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
Blest assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea, *Jesus speaks to me, [*He speaks peace to me,]
And the billows cease to roll.
These four simple lines speak profoundly to my experience with the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is a practice that I have had to mature into. In order for me to identify with the Sabbath at all, my life had to be rife with billows that seemed insurmountable.
The Sabbath is a respite from uncontrollable life stressors that prevent us from being present and able to recognize the presence of God all around us and within us. Even though we understand and can be cognizant that God is omnipresent and ubiquitous, I sometimes feel quite dubious of this truth– especially when I get caught up in news stories that show the atrocities of human against human and human against the earth. My heart can become a darkened cloud of doubt and anger when I see people that have a seat at the ever-long communion table be rejected by the world. It is so easy to become overwhelmed and lose faith, especially in this ominous political climate.
This is going to sound very strange: I believe that, like the prodigal son, we are meant to be subjected to the billows of life, we are meant to suffer; existence is suffering. The onslaught of this temporal experience through pain, joy, loss, growth, confusion, change and stagnation can either free or fetter us.
In each of our trials, there is a small doorway, maybe even just a pinhole of light, that is the Holy quietness that this wise old hymn speaks about. We have to have the courage to look for it when we suffer. We have to have the self-discipline to rise above the fray, rooting through the soil of the grave and step into the sacred garden of resurrection. There we can experience a transcendence from the visceral experience of life instead of shamefully denying carnality. We can allow our animal instincts to guide us on a bridge to our relationship with God through the example of Jesus: going to a quiet place to pray, learning to need God,and understanding that God has provided a safe space for us to commune with him/her. Dying to live. Rising from the dead triumphantly, fiercely, and unashamed.
Sabbath as The Breath of Life.
The missing piece that we often do not explore in the story of Adam and Eve is what happened to Eden after they left? What happened to the place that was a holy home to the breath of life, knowledge, and spiritual nourishment?
Then the LORD God formed the human flesh out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into their nostrils, and the human flesh became a living being. Gen. 2:7
Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:20-21
Perhaps the Garden of Eden and the Sabbath are mysteriously intertwined; God sees that we must explore what it means to be human without the comforts of having everything at our fingertips. Humanity has a need to understand renewal instead of privilege.
The Holy Spirit was present before Christ’s incarnation and after his resurrection. What changed from our first collective incarnation as Adam and our second collective incarnation as disciples of Christ has been recognizing a purpose to serve. Servitude takes an immense amount of work, however we now have the ability to adopt what I call “Sabbath Mind” in any moment that we open our hearts to receive the breath of life from the incarnated and resurrected Christ.
Taking Eden on The Human Journey.
So, What if we were wrong about why Adam and Eve left Eden?
What if on this journey of the coalescence of humanity and divinity, breath and flesh, the Sabbath was the doorway to the oneness we all seek (including Jesus, himself)?
What if Adam and Eve were not banished for disobedience, but instead lovingly challenged to fully live out and serve within the human experience so that they may grow with the wisdom to blend humanity and divinity?
I don’t know about you but I would be bored AF if I always had to lounge around and have everything done for me. I would take pleasure in God telling me it is time to leave my place of incubation and go out bravely into the world. I want to work. Jesus came to work. We work together. We heal on the Sabbath; the Sabbath is a state of being within the breath of life that can be accessed anytime.
Location. Location. Location.
If you are looking for the location of the Garden of Eden, it’s palatial landscape is in the last place you left it. Reclaim your innocence no matter the external circumstance.