I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in solitude near a lake. It was a peaceful, serene experience with nothing but my bible, my prayers, and my thoughts to keep me company. I had expected to spend a couple of hours just sitting and praying. I had a couple of different scriptures that I wanted to meditate on and also I just wanted to spend an extended time in prayer, both active and contemplative. I was looking forward to God meeting me there and for the message he would give me, however, I had no idea what I would experience.
After spending about 20-30 minutes in prayer my mind and attention were drawn to a couple of ducks. I’m not particularly familiar with ducks but these ducks appeared to be a mama duck and one of her children. The Mama duck, with chrystal white feathers, was leading her child in search of food. The child duck, a cross between brown and black feathers with a slightly disfigured webbed foot, followed closely behind. They were very familiar with the area and came waddling on up out of the water towards me. As they grew closer and closer I kept expecting them to turn and walk in a different direction, yet they came right up next to me and walked around the area where I was sitting. They didn’t bother me at all, except for the mama duck giving a soft tap with her beak twice to the bottom of my foot. Instead, we all sat there together, in harmony, as if it was quite natural for two ducks and a human to be sitting in silence meditating on their surroundings.
After a time the ducks decided they had been silent enough and they waddled away in search of more food. It was at this point when I noticed a squirrel who was climbing on a nearby trash can scavenging for food. The squirrel stopped, glanced at me for a time to make sure I posed no danger, and then went about in search of more food. The amazing part was not that a squirrel was searching for food, but that this squirrel was no more than ten feet from me and did not mind at all being in my presence. We had our moment when we looked at each other and decided everything was alright, and then we moved on in perfect harmony.
I decided my solitude was being broken so I got up for a short walk around the lake. I had not gone too far before I realized a deer was standing at the edge of the foliage. I almost missed it because it stood in silence. I kept walking, hoping not to scare the deer but intrigued by this beautiful creature. The deer watched me, with slight anticipation to discover my intentions, but after deciding I posed no threat went back to picking around in the weeds, probably hunting for food. I watched for awhile and then went on, having never quite had this experience with so many animals before.
And then the question hit me, I wonder if this was what it was like in Eden? I wonder if in the Garden and before sin, when Adam and Eve were simply just happy to be, I wonder if they lived in harmony with the animals? I wonder if there used to be a time when fear was not the defining characteristic, but it was one of humans and animals living together in peace? I wonder if that was the way God designed the world to be?
And I found myself longing for the day when sin was no more. I found myself longing for the day when death was destroyed and the earth was renewed. I found myself longing for the day when God’s Kingdom reigned completely and wholly, when humanity could return to their rightful place of serving and caring for God’s creation in a way that helped creation reach its full potential. I found myself wanting to return to Eden, to paradise, to God’s good creation. That time will come again, God has promised it. Evil and sin will be destroyed and all things will be new and good, just as they were always meant to be. May that day come quickly.