Sunday, April 27, 2008

Paradise is...

...different things to different people.

As I was hiking in the Muir Woods on Friday, I overheard conversation among a pair of couples walking the trail. I recognized them as Jehovah's Witnesses right away. Having been raised in that arena, I'm fluent in the language (that language is a subject for another conversation some time).

The conversation centered around what they wanted in the New System. For Jehovah's Witnesses, the New System is the world as it will be after Armageddon, after Jehovah removes Satan's influence from the world for a thousand years so the earth and all its inhabitants can return to paradise and perfection. The comments were about what kind of homes they wanted, what kind of amenities. "I want a two or three story house with a window that opens onto a slide so I can just slide down into the lake right out of the bedroom window."

The thing is...we were in the middle of an old growth forest. It was clean, deep, quiet...the trees, some four or five stories tall, were graciously welcoming us into their homes. We'd just been graced with a doe and her fawn crossing our path; a birdsong symphony played in the background, and a gentle creek babbled merrily within earshot of most of the trail. We were already in paradise, and they didn't appear to recognize it.

Have we all become such expatriates that we don't recognize our native tounge? The world was speaking the language of paradise and people were talking about building a three-story house. Or maybe the constant focus on the future, the paradise to come, blinds people to the paradise that is.

It was a bit sad really. Maybe I'm making too much of it; they certainly seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves. But for me, caught up as I was in the rapture of ancient redwoods, blooming oxalis, and the humming energy of that beautiful place, there was no need for a new system. The old system was paradise enough for me.

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