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Friday, August 24, 2007

About a year ago, I found myself in a hotel room in Jamaica, NY. It was not much bigger than a cracker box with one tiny window that peered out into the darkness. Our flight from NY back to Nashville had been cancelled and, instead of going home, I was required to catch another flight to Montana to meet my staff early the next morning. For reasons that are yet to be revealed to me, Jamaica appears to be a very popular place. Maybe confused travelers believe it to be the other Jamaica. Maybe some travelers desire to sleep in a place where the hotel clerk says, "Don't leave the hotel after dark." Whatever the case, we paid almost $200 for that cheap little room that night.

I got up early the next morning to be at the airport by six. Because the airline had managed to get my luggage to where I was supposed to be, I slept in my clothes and woke with my contacts sticking to my eyes. I stumbled from the cot and made my way to the lobby to meet our shuttle van. As I stood in the predawn setting of that parking lot, I was struck by the quiet and stillness of even that very large city. I've always been a morning person. I love watching the world come to life. And the New York metro area can be very entertaining. There was a "purity" about that sleeping giant as I watched taxis, garbage trucks, delivery vehicles and store owners moving about their various morning duties. I thought back to the safety warning of the night before. "You don't want to walk anywhere around here, mister. It's not safe."

As we continued to move rapidly (have you ever known a taxi driver to do otherwise?) towards JFK airport, my mind began to race with thoughts. I wonder if this is God's viewpoint of us? I wonder if, that very first morning after he created Adam, He sat back and watched His new creation with fascination? I wonder if He pondered the "purity" of that whole scene--one man, one garden, one God in intimate relationship? And I wonder if He, being the all-knowing One, looked ahead to what this world would become? Did He weep? Did He, before that first sin was ever committed, long for things the way they used to be? I wonder if, in His heart, He wanted to scream out to Adam and Eve, "Don't touch the fruit. Don't ruin this. Don't let this desire consume you. Things will never be the same if you do."

I remember thinking that morning how I wished the city could stay in its semi-conscious state. Maybe the Big Apple's call to become human and secular and self-centered and materialistic could be postponed for a day or even a few hours. It was so serene, so peaceful. Seems like the "apple" has been calling us ever since--to choose ourselves over others...over the Creator who desires relationship with us.

As I watched the sun peak its head between the buildings of the distant skyline, a siren broke the silence--a reminder that the "apple" had won...for now. But some day, according to what we read, the peace will return and the garden will be once more. More importantly, the intimacy we have never known with God but have desired with all our hearts will be ours. Till then, there are planes to catch, conversations to have, lives to live and moments to embrace. Welcome to Jamaica. Have a nice day!

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