I fell in love with Jesus in the mountains of the Adirondacks in upstate New York. I perfected my J-stroke as the sun collected behind Spec Mountain, waiting to nudge light through thick stands of hemlock and birch. The paddle cut into clear water as my canoe coasted to the other side of camp, where wild honeysuckle sprayed pink on the shore and seventy-two girls unearthed God for eight weeks as they picked wood sorrel by the trail, grinding the tart taste between back teeth. As the canoe drifted, the sky changed her clothes, shedding a robe of black for layers of red and purple.
One night that summer, the sky poured down and I pulled the tarp over my sleeping girls, water dripping from my eyelashes and fingertips. I looked up and stuck my soiled, hardened feet out and let Him wash them.
It’s easy to feel Eden when tanned legs, strengthened from miles of hiking, stretch out before you. When the scent of pine curls around your nose and you fall asleep with the sound of waves gently lapping on shore. When songs rise up within you and His word falls easily from your lips.
Years later, I found myself in Cambodia, in the midst of hot season. The ground cracked dry, as dust flew into our house, coating everything in reddish, brown layer. Three young kids clamored to be on top of me, their sweat combining with mine. Intense heat sapped all my energy and drive. Discouragement and loneliness enveloped me so heavily, I had to drag myself out of bed in the morning.
My heart ached for Eden–a place where I could be fully known and unashamed. Where abundance and rest lived and the pangs of childbirth and toil didn’t exist. Where husband and wife lived completely unified and whole. Where God walked and talked with you in person.
On this side of Eden, things can seem bleak and at times hopeless. Couples quarrel. Kids disobey. We have aches and pains and deep emotional hurts.
But after just one word from His lips, the long dreary hours and the heartaches are forgotten. All the past is blotted out in the presence of the Living Present and the Eternal Future. The Garden is a reminder of what was lost, but also what will be. It is not lost forever. And in this in between time, we have reminders of His presence and beauty.
Even in the hottest season of Cambodia, there are glimpses of Eden. Ripe, juicy mangoes fresh from the tree. The coolness of evening as the sun begins to set. Wrapping my arms around my husband as we drive around the city on our moto, feeling for a moment, free. Teammates who love and serve even when dead tired themselves. The taste of strong iced coffee as it slides over your tongue and down your throat. Knowing that rainy season will come with its cool breezes.
So I stick out my soiled, hardened feet again. And I wait for the rain.
Where have you seen Eden in this world?