As the day draws to a close, the land is bathed in golden sunlight, the wind has dropped, the branches are still, birds and insects fill the air enjoying the evening warmth. It is also a perfect time for Mary and me to enjoy the peace and beauty of the moment with a gentle stroll around the fields behind the Rectory.
As the first week of creation drew to a close, God created a garden, in Eden, in the East. This freshly created garden was stocked with plants to be enjoyed and to sustain; food for our stomachs, minds and spirit. He created this, it appears, at the same time as He created mankind and put us there to till it and to keep it (Genesis 2: 7-9). Here was to be harmony. Here mankind was able to enjoy communion not only with each other, but with God; for we are told that God walked in the garden at the time of the evening breeze (Gen 3:8).
Sadly, this image of perfection didn’t last. Genesis 3 tells of rebellion and treachery leading to separation; hiding from God (Gen 3:8), hiding from each other by stitching clothes (Gen 3:7); banished from the garden (Gen 3: 24). We went our own way, realising too late the serpent’s deceitfulness and our own gullibility.
That garden in Eden, in the East is gone; but one day there will be a new garden, for this is not the end of the story. The pull of that garden is embedded deep in our being, our DNA; the pull to be reunited with God; even the pull to break down the barriers we constantly create with our neighbours. Happily for us, God also mourns our parting and shares that pull. He mourns so much that over the millennia He has continued to keep in touch; calling us to begin the journey of restoration. He even sent his Son to show us the way. The culmination of that visit we have recently celebrated through Holy Week and Easter.
Easter is drawing to a close once more; a golden sunlight bathes the land. Eden it isn’t, but our countryside is still a place of beauty, capable of stirring our longing for our true home. We are blest with this beauty on our own doorstep. God created a garden; little surprise then we should find ourselves nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.
Rev’d Philip Payne The Notice sheet for 21 May 23 can be found here
 Dorothy Frances Gurney