Blood flows freely through the Garden. Death lurks around every corner. Unsuspecting visitors are greeted by a large red sign depicting Skull and Crossbones with animated swords slashing out from all sides. "Warning" lights blink - "Enter at your own risk! COMBAT ZONE!"
I gasp audibly as I cover my mouth with my hand and gaze at the devistation in front of me.
"Well, what did you expect?" my mustached guide says in broken english, "a garden party?"
Well, actually I did. I came here to visit the site of the Garden of Eden. But instead I say...
"According to biblical scholars and archeologists, the Garden of Eden was once located here in Iraq. Since Qurna, Iraq, is the only place where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers meet - it has to be somewhere in or around this vicinity."
The Guide shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and made a big U-Turn. "Sorry, maam, I no risk my life to hunt your garden. My car, it not paid for yet, it hit maybe big bomb and go 'Poof'! No, not me! Sorry."
Okay, so I didn't get to see the land that God had chosen to plant his first and original garden in, but that didn't deter me from Garden hopping; next stop would be west to another sacred garden spot - the Garden of Gethsemane just outside of Jerusalem.
There I am greeted by the same sign, "WARNING, War Zone. Travel at your own risk!", only this time no flashing swords and blinking lights. How was I to know an Israel and Lebanon war was coming?
Where did I ever get the notion that Gardens are usually places of peace, quietude, and serenity anyway? Was this all just a dream or had I been reading too many "House and Garden" magazines?
Gardens are supposed to be places of beauty with paths winding through scented flowers, ferns, and plush greenery. Shades of red and pink roses blending into a background of sculptured bushes and ornamental plants; a botanical masterpiece of artistic design that rests the mind, eases the nerves, and delights the eye.
Once Upon A Time... both Eden and Gethsemane had all these scenic qualities; But today blood flows freely and death lurks unsuspectedly around each corner, waiting, stalking, ready to blow you to bits and silence you forever!
"Why would anyone want to visit these two gardens anyway?" Well, they're both important to me because...
It all began when sin entered heaven, then filtered down to planet Earth, via satan, and into the Garden of Eden where Man was tempted, sinned, and was given the death decree. He must die.
But God, who so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son...
Jesus, carrying the weight of all the sins of the world on his shoulders, slowly made His way up to the Mount of Olives, knelt down beneath an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane and in the hushed silence of a broad and full moon shining down from a cloudless sky, prayed to His Father to give Him strength to follow through with His commitment to save Man ...
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Then on Calvary's cross He cried..."It is Finished." The Plan of Salvation was accomplished. Jesus took MY sins to the cross and died in MY stead! The Plan of Salvation was completed.
What better reason could there be to want to visit these two sacred gardens - two places that held my destiny, where decisions were being made of whether I would live or die; whether I would be granted Eternal Life or get what I deserved...the death penalty.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13 KJV)
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