On Forgiveness Vespers

You yourself are another little world, having within you the sun, moon and the stars.
– Origen

We are all Adam. We have all fallen from grace into the dark abyss of ego. The hellish outer darkness within the ‘self,’ when man removes his contemplation away from God, choosing to rather set his mind on things below (Col. 3:2). The bliss of Eden became sweat on our brows (Gen. 3:19), as we desperately try to keep up with the overgrowth. The truth of the matter is, Eden is within our heart. Contrary to something we can observe with our eyes, Christ said, “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The heart is where God walks with man.

Even though we are all Adam collectively, it is also true on an individual level. There is a world within us. Within the heart of every human being is a garden—the remnants of an Eden that once was. Rotting fruit from a tree once lush, and a rotting tree from a fruit once plucked. The grass withers from green to gray; from clean to dismay. Who shall till the land and restore Eden once again?

If ever there were a magic incantation to grant eternal life, it would be, “Forgive me a sinner,” and “God forgives; I forgive.” When we bow to one another putting on Christ’s humility, saying those heartfelt words, we cooperate with God in working on restoring the inner garden within us and within the other. Eden is a dimension that can only be seen in the reflection of another’s eyes, and it can only be accessed in the prostration of our heart and through the baptism of our tears. One cannot see Eden if the heart does not bow lower than the knees. We need one another in order for Eden to manifest itself. In this sense, the waters of baptism stream from the eyes to purify our sight. Seeking and giving forgiveness is a means to extend our individual progress towards Eden to include the other, that their garden might not lag behind. The tree of life produces but one fruit, and it is one perpetually given in love by God and charitably shared; passed on from one to another that all may participate in putting the other before the self. Every bow in this life is a bite of that life. Little by little, plucking weed by weed, our forgiveness for one another will cause others to look with astonishment, saying, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

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