The Edge of Paradise

I have this book, Barking to the Choir, by Boyle, and it was a gift at Christmas from someone I regard quite highly, but do not tell often enough perhaps. It is a remarkable book from a remarkable daughter.

Page 75, last paragraph:


I took a picture so I wouldn’t have to retype it, or find it online and copy/paste, but time-wise it is a wash since I clicked, cropped, filtered, and dragged anyway. I am glad I did.

I was just gonna write about a few things from my first day and evening of vacation (yesterday) that I thought were significant and paradise-like, until I dragged this photo from my desktop onto this page.

I am glad, because as I observe the placement and the readability, I also notice the light. That slight bend in page 75 as I held the book in one hand and my phone in the other causes the light (from right to left like you’re reading Hebrew) to begin as neutral, and then fall at an angle into shadow and then grow brighter and brighter until it slides off the page. Look at the corner where the word “Paradise” is.

Because of the Light, there is no discernible line, no boundary between picture and page. Nothing, really, separates paradise from all the rest. And it is all because of the Light . . .

And that would be a fine conclusion to a nice post. It is short, makes a profound point, and is at once self-effacing and bold. But it is not true, really.

A day can change the course of a life. I know that, and knew it about this day.

A life can change the course of a day. I knew that, and I know it more fully now.

And, a page can change the course of a post. I did not know that until a few minutes ago.

And, not only this page has changed the course of this [being revised in real time right now] post, but a page from that life is changing it as well [changed it outside real time, but in true time, by beginning to change it before I began writing it, and is changing it as I write].

Here is what has happened:

It is now almost six hours later than when I concluded that nice post up there. I came back to do a final edit before making it public in all its intended glory, and I discovered something. I am typing right now in edit mode and the background for this text is white, so that the excerpt from page 75 does indeed appear to fade into eternity or whatever, right there at “Paradise.” Nice.

But then I clicked on a white Preview button to see how it will look to you, as you are reading it at this very moment, and the background is not at all “pure” white. It is parchment-like because that is the intended design of, and I like it that way. But that means you don’t see the entire point, even in metaphor. It makes no sense whatsoever, what I am saying, because of the background, the added color and depth that are there.

So, let’s fix that. Let us   s  t  r  e  t  c  h   the metaphor and say that if it were not for the faded parchment of our background stories, written on repeatedly, re-written, changed, erased, begun again, used and re-used, even a little messy at times, there would be no boundary, nothing to separate our pages from that Paradise. But, there is, even with the re-writing, a kind of separation because it has been brought to light and exposed by the Light. Okay, that concludes that. And the point is made, revised, and made anew. Good.

But, where in the heck have I been for almost six hours? At a Franciscan Spiritual Center. I have been there in community, having this very special day—a day that was changed as I reflected last night about what to do, say, and think today—changed further by a life. My life has already been changed by a day, and now my day by a life, and that is why I was interested in the Center at all.

You see, I have some good practices, spiritual practices, that have become habits (puns intended? None), but I have them from books, and brain, a little brawn, and because of beauty. But, they need to be done in community, and that is where the vocabulary begins to have meaning. Like Christmas, Easter, Daphnis et Chloé, and so much more, it is taking time for me to learn—and I have barely, barely learned, I know—the meaning of it all.

And it took a day like today, actually it took this specific day, to break through to me, to the real me that I desire to become so that prayer and contemplation, and so very much more than the much more that is even more, can begin to have depth. To have real meaning. And that page 75 up there, and all the pages, mean more already than they did at the beginning of this day.

So, that is what I did today (went to act like a Franciscan) being led there by a series of events during a week of vacation, a vacation which was scheduled months ago before the time at the Center was even conceived by its planners . . .

And it has only just begun. While there, I was the first to sign up for three retreats over the next eighteen months or so, and I have no idea how it can all happen. With my schedule, and the way that the day-to-day is unfolding, I truly have no idea how. But how? is a question that is fading like parchment into the background, so that Paradise will indeed be found, never having actually been lost at all, because it has always been.

For now, we are on the edge of it, however.

We are on The Edge of Paradise.

I cannot let this all go without shouting a very personal thank you for making this particular day so special. I am very grateful for the goodness that has come into my life (and others’ lives) because of today. How could it be better? Thank you to Ben and to Jerry for Free Cone Day, 10 April 2018;)

From a mere peasant, at the feet of Royalty



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