John Milton’s, “Paradise Lost” ends with the words:
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Milton is describing Adam and Eve leaving Eden after The Fall. They go out together into a world that has been afflicted with illness, viruses, pain, disease, war and death.
It occurred to me that we may have similar thoughts as we begin to lift restrictions. It isn’t Eden that we are leaving – we were never in Eden. Only two people lived in Eden. But the way people are talking about getting back to normal you would almost think we had left paradise in March 2020.
But imagine what it was like for Adam & Eve: God had evicted them! They had known his daily presence with no distractions: no Netflix; no InterNet; no Mobile phones. They are the most common ways people survived the lockdowns, but not Adam & Eve. They spent time with God. And now! Now they were going out into the unknown. God had told Adam there would be thorns and thistles (and he had no idea what God was talking about, but they didn’t sound good). Eve was going to be blamed for everything from Patriarchal Dominance to Feminism- whatever that means!
It was an unknown world that they were going into. They only had the animal skins that God had provided for them. They were covered with the sacrifice that God had offered to himself as He killed those animals to provide those skins.
Who knows what we will find as we go out into this (hopefully) Post-COVID-19 World. But by the time we get back out there it should be Easter, (or just after,) the time when we remember that God provided a sacrifice, of himself, to himself, to cover us in this weird and wonderful world.
Milton talks about Adam & Eve making their solitary way through the world, guided by Providence. That is the state we find ourselves in – guided by Providence, but sometimes feeling alone. Milton wrote a sequel: ‘Paradise Regained”, which ends with Jesus taking Adam’s ‘chosen sons’ “Home to his mother’s house private returned”. It’s a good complete ending – no chance of making it a trilogy! We are between the times – Eden to the New Jerusalem. We each write our own story, but we know that if we are guided by Jesus, if we are ‘Adam’s chosen sons’, then as solitary as we may feel we will know that we are never truly alone, whatever we find outside of Eden.