I’ve been thinking lately about the fact that we find some of Paradise on earth when we are in relationship with the resurrected Jesus. I’m not sure we always see it, but I have found it in my life. I find paradise in the gardens at Boerner Botanical Gardens and walking along Lake Michigan, and walking across town from Bay View to West Allis along Lincoln Avenue some early mornings, and in the Uhlein Hall and other Halls and Theaters in Milwaukee.
For me, the metaphor for Paradise is spending time at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with Karen. Back in the early 70’s, when we were first dating, we spent most Friday nights at concerts or somewhere at the theater. I was, and remain, rather ignorant about what I was seeing and hearing. But I knew it was good. In the mid-70s, we were in different places–she in Madison Wisconsin, laboring and absorbing culture, and I in Janesville, laboring and politicking. Once we were married, we were so busy with work and then children, that our visits to those places of paradise were infrequent and sometimes alone. I found Saturday afternoons at the Met sometimes, and she sought culture wherever she could find it.
In the last few years, we are back to concerts and theater and sometimes the art museum.
Friday night led me to really see what a blessing this life is for me. We were at the MSO for a fantastic baroque concert with guest conductor Nicholas McGegan and about 40 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra strings, plus harpsichord/continuo organ, for an outstanding program of Handel, Pergolesi and Scarlatti. They were joined by soprano Yulia Van Doren and countertenor Daniel Taylor. This was a place of paradise for me. We were enticed again by the pre-concert lecture. We have been delighted throughout much of March by Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong’s teaching; his series on the voice of the composer was superb. This past week, the Behind the Notes lecture was also phenomenal, and we were really prepared for the consort. We had to stay for the Talk back this past week. We so wanted to hear McGegan, Van Doren and Taylor in their own voices. That was a little bit like heaven too.
Just being with Karen for the experience is a bit of what I anticipate for eternal paradise.
As many of my friends know, I read a little bit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer each day. Some passages from Life Together speak to me on this trip to paradise:
“Whereas in our devotions together we read long consecutive passages, in our personal meditation we confine ourselves to a brief selected text” (pp. 81-82)
“It is not necessary that we should get through the entire passage in one meditation. Often we shall have to stop with one sentence or even one word, because we have been gripped and arrested and cannot evade it any longer.” (p. 83)
“In our meditation we ponder the chosen text on the strength of the promise that it has something utterly personal to say for us for this day and for our Christian life, that it is not only God’s word for the Church, but it is God’s word for us individually. We expose ourselves to this specific word until it addresses us personally.” (p. 82)
“It is not necessary, therefore, that we should be concerned in our meditation to express our thought and prayer in words. Unphrased thought and prayer, which issues only from our hearing, may often be more beneficial.” (p.83)
The word “paradise” entered English from the French paradis, inherited from the Latin paradisus, from Greek parádeisos (παράδεισος), and ultimately from an Old Iranian root, attested in Avestan as pairi.daêza-. The literal meaning of this Eastern Old Iranian language word is “walled (enclosure)”, from pairi- “around” + -diz “to create (a wall)”.  The word is not attested in other Old Iranian languages (these may however be hypothetically reconstructed, for example as Old Persian *paridayda-). I start to see a little bit of paradise here.
from Luke 23:43:
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
I am thankful to experience some of paradise today.
- Today You Will be With Me in Paradise — A Word from the Cross (bobcornwall.com)
- Forsaken (facetsofinfinity.wordpress.com)