At Eden’s Gate

“This is crazy! I’m going to be late! I’m almost there.  The snow is blinding! It wasn’t this bad when I started.  Shall I turn back? What if I go off a bridge?  Will they think it’s suicide?  LORD know I’ve thought of it at times.  I wonder if people who suicide are really damned?  ‛Keep the steering wheel steady, don’t go too slow.  Someone may hit you from behind.’ I can’t see!  Where’s the edge of the pavement?  Why didn’t I stay home?  It doesn’t make much sense to risk your life to go to a counseling appointment!  But I didn’t cancel 24 hours ahead.  I didn’t think it would be this bad.  ‛You have to keep your word, even to your hurt.’ Ican’t see to turn back.  I have to go on!…
    “Well, the now let up and I’m here, a half-hour late, and I’ve had it”
    After weighing his inner thoughts in the counseling session, he decided it’s “OK” under certain circumstances to go back on his work, to be mre flexible, less rigid in his expectations of himself.  Though stressful, the lesson learned provided another stepping stone toward peace and inner harmony.
    You may have heard “I’ve met the enemy, and it’s me.” Many stressors come from conflicting inner attitudes which, for some, at times, becomes disabling.
    As a student nurse in 1952, I learned that one-half of all hospital beds were for persons with mental illness.  At that time little help was available.  I vowed to do what I could to make a difference.
    As time went on I became a busy mother and homemaker.  I forgot all about that vow.  From 1965 through the mid-seventies, with emotional problems of my own, I turned to self-help material to supplement professional care.  In 1976 I returned to nursing as a graduate student.  In the 1980ies, as a mental health nurse and instructor of nursing students, I took the opportunity to study and put into practice the “how to” of helping people learn to help themselves in personal growth, helping myself in the process.
    I want to share with you what I have gained from working with patients, families, and professionals, as well as my personal experiences with my own spiritual and emotional growth.  I am blending composite situations with fiction in order to provide anonymity for all contributors.
    At Eden’s gate you stand.  As you examine these stepping stones on the path of well-being, and the lilies along the way, you have my best wishes in making your own path stable and sure, and in assisting your loved ones or clients in their own personal path of growth.
    Additionally, I hope to prevent some of the painful pitfalls of mental health problems.  My heartfelt desire is, if you are having emotional problems, that you will use them as opportunities for your own personal growth into well-being and wholeness.
    Please feel free to pick and choose the sections of this work that are important to YOU. There is no particular order in which this must be read.  I do suggest that you continue with this material and then read Lilies of the Valley.  From there move to the sections that interest you most.
    Feel free to stop and use the index and appendices at any point.  Do not feel that you must read hurriedly or in any particular period of time.  God is able to lead you to what you need most at any point in time.  Feel free to put it aside for awhile take a rest, or think about it, talk to someone about it, and come back to that or to another part.  I he you will want to read it all.
    I often use the word ‛we’ to indicate common thoughts and feelings amon those who have had or are having, some particular trails, problems, successes, or religious experiences.  You may or may not have the same idea, feeling, or behavior.  Your situation and your feelings may not fit the situation described.  If the statement does not fit you, think nothing more about it.  If it bothers you, talk with some.
  Please take a moment to think about what “Eden” means to you?  A place of peace, happiness, security, harmony, perfection?  A place remembered in cultural history and mythology with a variety of names, such as paradise or nirvana?  Perhaps, a place referred to in modern American jargon as “back to the womb”?  A place where the weary are refreshed and encouraged?  A place of Law and Order, where events are predictable and justice is done?  A place where education effectively identifies good and evil?  Where people are warned of the dangers here and “out there”?  Or, possibly, a condition of open communication with God and others? 
    Perhaps, Eden is the “Presence of God.”
    Regardless of how we define Eden, there is an aura of desire to experience Eden in our present life, if possible, as much and as often as possible.  Thus the appeal of terms such as: The New Order, The New Age, and The New World.
    You cannot enter Eden if you blame others for all your trials.  You are responsible for becoming what you are purposed to be.  Each of us has an individual path, but we have much in common with others.  The gate is open to the garden of God’s Presence.

    God’s hidden wisdom (and) secret purpose, framed from the very beginning, (is) to bring us to our full glory.
    I Corinthians 2:7 New English Bible (NEB)
    Raise a shout for the Lord, all the earth;
    Worship the Lord in gladness;
    Come into his presence with shouts of joy…
    Enter his gates with praise,
    His courts with acclamation
    Psalms 100: 1,3 Tanakh
Happy are those whom you discipline,
    O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, to give (us) tranquility in time of misfortune, for the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his very own;
If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence, When I thought, ‛My foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul…
Let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!…
O that today you would listen to his voice!
Excerpts from David’s Ps. 94 and 95, NRSV and Tanakh.


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