“And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning: wherein he placed man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8
Throughout the ages, the Garden of Eden has been depicted, defended and debated. Scholars mostly agree that it is a mythical place but that’s not to say we can’t reflect on Eden and those early days.
One thing is certain – our loving God started the human race in the best place possible: surrounded by trees, plants, herbs, birds, animals and a river full of fish – Eden was teeming with the very best of creation. Being perfect, both Adam and Eve could have a perfect appreciation of this and of its beauty.
The name Eden is closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning “fruitful, well-watered”. This suitably describes Eden in Genesis 2. Another interpretation associates the name with a Hebrew word for ‘pleasure’, hence the above reference to Eden as a ‘paradise of pleasure’ in the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible translation.
We often remember (and sometimes need reminding) that God took a sabbath rest after his hard work. Take note: God also walked about and took time to enjoy his paradise on earth.
“And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.” Genesis 3:8.
Fast forward one chapter and sinful humanity has already corrupted this paradise. Yet God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – are still revealed to us through nature. God’s instructions to care for the land and work it can only be done well when we take pleasure in it too.
That’s why in every Wild Christian email we’ll be encouraging you to enjoy nature.
As we explore nature’s positive effects on our spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing, we recognise that the pressures and busyness of daily life mean that we’re increasingly detached from nature. This detachment has negative consequences for wild nature in general and on us: people – ourselves included – simply can’t and won’t rally round to save something they are not really aware of.
The initial invitation might be as simple as going for a walk but as we use that time to pause and realign ourselves with God, God can take such moments to nudge us to better nurture and defend what we are becoming more aware of – a creation groaning and collapsing under the enormous pressures we exert on it.
So let us walk beside the Lord in the cool of the (Autumn) evening; let us re-discover God through His creation and take pleasure in both nature and our heavenly Father. Let us then be spurred on to act more boldly for nature and share with each other our challenges and achievements along the way.
This reflection was written by A Rocha UK’s Communications Officer Jennifer Jobbins for the Wild Christian October email, ‘Nature and well-being.’