"Don't trust the pictures of doves on the decorative banners festooning your churches. Trust real doves."
"Don't trust any stained glass windows whose frames have been hammered into the shape of a rose, or that depict elegantly creeping vines or gentle lambs. Trust real roses, and real vines, and real lambs—things that breathe and eat and drink and live and die."
"Whatever you do, don't trust in your lofty ideas about this world, or in your abstracted liturgical metaphors about what it means to be living in it. Trust only—and always—in the real thing."
"In the cracks of the pavement before me, I noticed micro-gardens of tiny weeds sprouting up defiantly.
"High above my head, the clear morning sky had slyly appropriated the glass-paned sides of office towers, turning them into giant mirrors that reflected its bright blue light.
"As I waited at a crosswalk, my newly acquired X-ray vision enabled me to look down at the street and to see, inches below it, the continent-wide expanse of rich, black, living earth."
"At that moment I was made to understand: the kingdom of heaven isn't some plane in another dimension, understandable only through symbols and reachable only upon death. The kingdom of heaven is here on earth. The natural paradise that surrounds us is our true home, both physically and spiritually."
"But if we're to partake in all the glorious gifts it would bestow, we must acknowledge its sacredness. Every plastic six-pack ring that makes its way to the ocean, every gallon of toxic waste that leaches into an estuary, every tenth-of-a-degree rise in average global temperatures represents another step away from the garden...."
Excerpted from the article Back to the Garden by Michael Ellick
Photos: Cathedral of St. Paul
Which put me in mind of another cathedral dedicated to St. Paul that I visited a year ago in London. And how when there, at the risk of sounding churlish, I spent most of my time wondering why humans spent so much effort creating a sacred place, when every inch of this earth is already sacred and shining with life and spirit.
Was it because they'd fallen in love with the symbol so deeply that it crowded out their natural human affinity for the physical? Loved the thought and the word, and rejected the blooming rose, the fruiting vine, the lamb who hungered, all outside the doors?
I'm minded of the Fool in Twelfth Night, who sings:
What is love? 'Tis not hereafter.
Present mirth hath present laughter.
What’s to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty.