Reversing Eden

I visit Howard, who hopes to evolve a 'highland cathedral' that combines creation care with human transformation. I drive on endlessly and arrive two hours late at Bewcastle, the almost un-findable 'pearl hidden in a field', there to meet Rev Rob Brown, co-pioneer of 'Borders minster'. He shows me their newly scaped field, permaculture, ponds, pigs, meteorlogical equipment and daily prayer room. I learn that seventy people from local farms joined the Bishop of Carlisle for their Open Day when neighbours demonstrated local craft- and food-making.

Rob grips me with his interpretation of the famed 7th or 8th century Bewcastle Cross. This offers unique insights into the relationship between Christ and creation. The Cross is a tree. In the centre of the Garden of Eden was a Tree of Life, as well as a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When humans abused the second tree, they lost sight of the first tree. The Cross, as a result of Christ, becomes the Tree of Life, and Eden begins to be restored. On one panel Christ sits with two animals eagerly looking up to him. On the revise side is one endless scroll of vines. Jesus said 'I am the Vine. Abide in me and you shall be fruitful'. Eden is being restored - animals and vines are part of the restoration. Read Rob's lecture on‎

Jonathan visits the Open Gate. The co-worker in his ministry slipped while mountain walking and fell to his death. Jonathan comes to grieve and try and make sense of it. Jonathan is a song writer and has three young children. He flows with possibility. He has in mind a project that makes my mind boggle: to become the child carer while his talented wife becomes the chief earner, and to do a Ph.d on the theme of Restoring Eden. He thinks people his age can live to be 150 years old and that there needs to be a theology of fruitful longevity. I've written a book on making a good death but I think I've left it a bit late to get into Jonathan's scenario. Though I did have a Christmas card from an aged saint who said he suffered from the Methuselah tendency.

Students arrive for the Foundation Course on our Way of Life,' Igniting the Flame'. They bring creative and artistic assignments. Penny teaches them how to make a book cover. She lends me the book she is devouring from a series on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Dumitru Staniloae: 'The Experience of God: The World: Creation and Deification'. I devour it too. It's all about Restoring Eden.

Now (in between crashing out) I prepare to give the keynote address at the Edinburgh Festival of Prayer. I notice that this sentence has crept in to the text: 'The original sin that put up the barrier between humans and God in Eden was pride. Penitence opens up a toe-hold for God to touch us and the Jesus Prayer allows a bit of garden to spring up again'. The Eden theme is here to stay.

Posted at 01:22am on 17th October 2013
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