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Posts tagged paradise

from The Fragrance of God (2006), by Vivian Guroian :: via Speaking of Faith, thanks Emily!

When Adam gardened, he imitated his Maker in a purely recreative act of cultivation and care. He did not need to subdue the earth in order for it to yield fruit. Rather, the plants were Adam’s palette, and the earth was his canvas. There was nothing but delight in the Garden, for Eden itself means “garden of delight.” When I dug my garden in Culpeper, I was preparing a canvas. And when I arranged the flowering plants and shrubs on the freshly turned ground, I saw already the pink peony blossoms with their heads turned down toward the blue iris, and the white phlox standing straight beside the slouching crimson bee balm. I breathed in the sweet honeysuckle and the citrus-scented bergamot.

I have said on occasion that I think gardening is nearer to godliness than theology. (By “theology” I mean the kind of formal written discourse that my special guild of academic theologians does, not the praise of God and communion with divine life that ought to inspire theology at its core.) True gardeners are both iconographers and theologians insofar as these activities are the fruit of prayer “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, NKJV). Likewise, true gardeners never cease to garden, not even in their sleep, because gardening is not just something they do. It is how they live.

from Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, p.6, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, translated by David Jacobson, 1992

The one thing that pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, saffron, and a whole series of other spices had in common was their non-European origin. They all came from the Far East. India and the Moluccas were the chief region for spices. But that’s only a prosaic description of their geographic origin. For the people of the Middle Ages, spices were emissaries from a fabled world. Pepper, they imagined, grew, rather like a bamboo forest, on a plain near Paradise. Ginger and cinnamon were hauled in by Egyptian fishermen casting nets into the floodwaters of the Nile, which in turn had carried them straight from Paradise. The aroma of spices was believed to be a breath wafted from Paradise over the human world.