View from the 17th floor

I’m attending a conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand and this is the view from my seventeenth story window.

One picture, yet three realities.

Reality one: Pool Side. The pool is on the fourth floor of the hotel and when you sit pool side, you are unaware of the canal.  In many ways, this pool is like Eden was. It is fresh, attractive, and conducive to relationships with room to play, hang out or talk. However, there is also space for solitude allowing for contemplation, reading, and recharging. Now, I get that the metaphor is not perfect because Eden didn’t involve an artificially, recreated piece of nature in the middle of a city. No, Eden was natural, it wasn’t forced, it was truly paradise and I agree that this pool is not paradise. But then we have …

Reality two: the rancid canal. It is dirty, smelly and as much as the pool can be seen as a reflection of what Eden was, this canal reflects so painfully, Eden lost. And lost on so very many levels. It is but a small taste of how sin has robbed creation aesthetically with literal trash tossed in it. Its productivity has been stolen as it has ceased to flow with water or life. People pick up their pace as they walk by because it reeks of what has been lost. Sadly, that is not a metaphor. This dear canal truly smells. From the street you have no idea that if you look up a mere four floors to the left, there is such a lovely place so close. However this is also …

Reality three: the bird’s eye view. This view challenges us to hold both realities in tension. It is true that Eden has been lost and that much of life does stink, is filled with garbage, and reflects brokenness. But it is also true that the Kingdom of God is now with Eden Returned breaking into Eden Lost. Eden Returned is fragrant, beautiful, and reflects God’s glory in ways that restore hope and bring the cry of a cheer from a grateful heart.

It is tempting to stay in vacation mode and want to live by the pool, denying the canal. Or become so frustrated and disillusioned with the canals of life that all you see is floating with rubbish without an ounce of hope in sight. But as believers we are challenged to have new eyes and to accept the already/not-yet-ness of life. Eden is returning but she has not fully returned yet. We must hold both as true.

Where in your life do you see elements of Eden returning and yet still lost?