As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, Jack has done a lot of travelling. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when Jack asked me “Where is Eden?”
I said, “you mean ‘where was Eden’?”
“No,” said Jack, “I mean ‘where is Eden’”.
I still had no idea what Jack was getting at, so I asked him to explain.
He did. He said, “I was looking at a map of the world yesterday, scouting for some areas of the world I’ve never travelled. I’ve done North America, South America, Europe, the Near East, the Far East, Indonesia, Australia, North and South Africa. I mean I’ve covered a lot of territory. So I was trying to figure out where I’d like to go next. And guess what; the two areas that stood out were the Middle East and somewhere in Mid-Africa.”
I guess my mind was on lunch rather than on Jack’s prospective itinerary, so I didn’t immediately make the connection. Jack did it for me.
“Then it occurred to me that those were the two places where mankind is supposed to have had its start: Leakey’s Olduvai Valley in Kenya, and Mesopotamia in Iraq. If those are the two most likely places, then that’s where Eden is supposed to be.”
With an obtuseness that only my rumbling stomach could justify, I insisted “was supposed to be.”
Jack stared at me for a moment, as if to gauge the level of my stupidity. He took pity on my. “Let me explain it to you. After God had completed his six-day work week, everything was in place: He saw it was very good. The bible says He planted a garden. If God Himself made it, you can be sure it must have been a thing of beauty. That was Eden. So what happened after Eve and Adam in that order ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge?”
I said “according to my information, second hand mind you, He was severely pissed off and told them to get the hell out.”
“Right,” said Jack, “and he posted some Cherubims and a flaming sword to keep them from getting back into Eden.” Jack paused.
“So?” I verbally nudged him on.
“The whole biblical point of this incident is that Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin. But it didn’t only affect them. It also afflicted their progeny. So what would happen if one of their descendants tried to get back into Eden? It stands to reason that they wouldn’t be allowed back in either. The bible is silent on the subject, but as far as I can make out, those angels were never recalled! And neither was the sword. So where are they? And where is that Eden that nobody can get in?”
I said “I guess, if you can find one, you’ll find the other.”
Jack picked up where he’d left off. “I spent a long time yesterday with Google Earth, trying to find anything resembling an earthly paradise in Kenya and Iraq, but any landscape that was pretty had buildings or cars in it, and anything that didn’t have buildings or cars in it wasn’t pretty. I hadn’t expected to see any angels or a flaming sword – Google’s satellite image resolution isn’t up to that task. But still …”
I said “Jack, you don’t mean to say you are really disappointed?”
“Well,” said Jack, “in a way I am. There is a logic in my construct, after all. What happened to the old Eden? Did God let it go to seed? It’s a mystery. And to answer your question, I am a little let down that the biblical Eden no longer exists.”
“Oh, it exists, alright,” I said. “Every garden that we design and keep up, every lawn we mow is our attempt to recreate it. And we do it by the sweat of our brow. Unless we have a self-propelled lawnmower.”
Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.
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