Urban Eden

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Where do we find ourselves? Our father’s forests have given way to jungles of steel and concrete, and silence–so precious to the soul–has been hurled out across the ocean and forgotten. We have been left without the witness of the stars; they have been blotted out in a surging ocean of lights. No longer can we retreat to the lonely fields where we used to walk in days gone by, alone with ourselves and Nature. We have been inexorably drawn together; we often have nowhere else to go. Yet man soldiers on, equipped with a soul embossed with shining courage and steadfastness, drifting through streams of color as easily as the guide on the raft, expertly navigating canyons and rapids; touched with spray and waves but held aloft. As one tree falls, and with it, holy testimony, so we must find another in its place. For man will not be left without a witness, nor will God fail to provide one. Nature is the tool of God, and will take the shape He thus desires.

Truly, as Emerson prophesied, the heavenly City above will only show itself once every thousand years, and man will marvel. In the meantime, turn to the lights that are brighter to our eyes than the stars–the divine City below! Sparkling and dancing in the darkness around, it hums with the life and Soul of man. Walk its streets and behold creations of God at every step: the strength, the life, the imagination, the expression, the beauty inherent. In the eyes of every man wages a war between Heaven and Hell and in the heart of every woman there is the heart of Christ and of a daemon. Pass not quickly, but pause, and wonder at the hearts and souls; think of Plato and know that every person is fighting a hard battle.

Every skyscraper is a temple to heaven, every tower a lighthouse of truth; every car contains a soul that will blaze with a skin of glass in the life to come. If only we had eyes to see–ah! the beauty to be seen. Do not see the suit of the man and confine him to the suit; more importantly, do not see the clothes draped on your shoulders and thus confine yourself. Walk not through the day in an endless routine, only punctuated with accidents or mistakes. All men fear what they are not comfortable with; no great man succumbs to it. No great thing was ever achieved with a perfect record. No victor lacks scars. Do not be defined by the City, but define it. The soft vibration of energy and life echoes throughout time into a chorus that will be sung around the throne of the Father. We will not shout our exultant songs to God in a meek garden or a dying forest, but in an Eternal City prepared for us; so we prepare ourselves for that coming City.

Man can learn from the earth, but man must learn from man. God speaks to man through man; the prophets of old and the holy scribes–men whom the Spirit settled on like dew and who received it like fragrant flowers. Every man I pass under neon lights is a prophet; every women is a teacher. The lights of the City show their faces; the same light that falls on them falls on me and our shoes beat the same ground, splash the same water, climb the same heights. The same cold bites at their eyes and the same wind chills their necks and together we turn up our collars. The City always breathes, always thrums, always lives, for we carry it with us wherever we go. Where man is, there is community, and where there is community there will be cities. Temples are erected to God, and we are the priests and stewards of those temples, brought together through divine calling. Jesus and Socrates taught in the cities as much as the countryside, and so we now go forth into this urban Eden.

The pine, the flowers, the bird winging ‘cross the sky: these are the characters of the earthen world, and silence and solitude their cloaks. What about the pool of water at the foot of the stoplight, a shimmering portal into the lower reaches of Heaven? What of the buildings that streak into the sky, arrows pointing to Heaven? Or aroma of men plying their trade at corner food stands, as they have for millennia, and in doing so show the timeless thread that runs through man? Are these not holy? Are they not devout? Are they not Natural? It merely depends on our temperament to see them. Our eyes pointed down, bent under the gentle and reassuring bonds of our master Routine, and life drains out of the world and into the rivulets of water streaming to the gutters. Here we feel our soul groan as it is bent and deformed and forced into a mold of ideas, opinions, and convictions. But look up! For God’s sake look up… and see! See the life ever-present, everyone fashioned unique; have the courage to take one more step in a brave and frightening world. The fog of the City is not the fog of grey apathy and mediocrity, it is the Spirit itself, swirling through our vision and lungs. Behind the eyes of every random kindness there is the Lord and the hands of every stranger bear the marks of nails. Through them we are sanctified and covered, or we are revealed and condemned.

Yet we cannot forever be without silence and solitude; no man can forever swim in the sea without gaining rest on the shore. But he can stay many months out on a vessel, caulked and built to withstand the surge of the ocean. We are on that boat, adrift in the ocean, knowing not where we go, but a symbol for all who see that it can be done. The City bucks and swirls as in the midst of storm?–good! press onward. Push through the waves, face into them and sail on. Break for the eye of the tempest and enjoy the reprieve granted there–then press on! The best captains have braved the worst storms. And we are strong captains with a good Guide, surrounded by the City and adrift upon its glassy skin. Do not be turned aside, by Sirens or stories of treasure. We stand shoulder to shoulder with countless other sailors, following the maps of men who’ve gone before us, all seeking the same Harbor. So fear not; sail on.

 

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