Paradise is the place of poets and artists. Paradise is the place that is at once lost and found. It is the Tahiti of a Gauguin painting.
The sensuous kiss.
Forest Landscape II
It is the verdant swaying trees in a painting by Emily Carr. It is Eden with its tree of life. The island surrounded by the rhythmic sea. It is an afternoon nap full of singing cicadas.
Paradise is so present, so here and now. It is worldly and physical. No one rules it-it just is. At the same time it is mystical, magical an otherworldly place. When we cannot find it, we can imagine it. We can use our lived experiences to create paradise. We can fantasize and dream.
Thomas Moore in his book “The Soul of Sex” talks about the sexual gaze in terms of fantasizing and dreaming. The sexual gaze he says, is numinous and he challenges us “to look penetratingly and amply for a perception of the world that lies within and beyond the obvious.” He goes on to say, “Through the body we are seeing something of the soul and therefore the mystery of life itself.” Finally, he sums up sex as “the very base of our identity and at the core of our need to escape loneliness and discover joy.”
We gaze into the garden of delights and find joy! The Garden of Eden found in Genesis 2 and the Song of Songs gives us a peek into the lushness of Paradise as seen through the eyes of love. Eugene Peterson in his introduction to the Song of Songs tells us “We read Genesis and learn that this is the created pattern of joy and mutuality. We read the Song and see the goal and ideal toward which we all press for fulfillment.” The song “is a prism in which all the love of God in all the world, and all the responses of those who love and whom God loves, gathers and then separates into individual colors.”
The Song of Songs speaks to us of the bliss we feel as young lovers joining in a lasting bond. The delight each takes in the other is pure. However, they are not alone; they live in a community as a couple and as individuals and celebrate their love with others.
“Wake up, North Wind, get moving South Wind! Breathe on my garden, fill the air with spice fragrance. Oh, let my lover enter his garden! Yes, let him eat the fine ripe fruits.
The other replies,
“I went to my garden, dear friend, best lover! Breathed the sweet fragrance. I ate the fruit and honey, I drank the nectar and wine. Celebrate with me, friends! Raise your glasses – “To life! To love!”
This song is the description of Paradise that I would give to any couple about to be married.
“Sex serves the spiritual life by taking us away from the purely temporal plane for a momentary taste of eternity” Sex permits us the freedom to be ourselves or to experiment being who we want to be. It unites us with our partner in a whirling spinning dance. The culmination of this dance may lead to orgasm with its flashing sparks of white light bursting from our center like the sparks of creation, which then subsides, into a floating world of sound, touch and smell. Our sense of time flattens, concerns and preoccupations dissolve and we find ourselves in a land of bliss; an Eden of innocence, if only for a moment.
We yearn for these moments because they are rare. These undefined glimpses of a reality that have no beginning, no end. They open us up to new possibilities. These desires seep into our everyday lives. They can emerge in healthy creative loving life ways or unhealthy destructive teardown life ways.
Tahitian Women Bathing
The humorous story “Growing Wild” pokes fun at our sexual desires from the perspective of time. It is a story of a man who proud of his body, buries all but his penis in the sand at the beach, in order to have “the perfect tan”. Two “old ladies” strolling down the beach come upon the exposed penis. One “old lady” claims, “There is no justice in the world!” “What do you mean?” asks the other.” The first says, “Look at that..When I was 20-I was curious about it. When I was 30-I enjoyed it. When I was 40-I asked for it. When I was 50-I paid for it. When I was 60-I prayed for it. When I was 70- I forgot about it. And now that I’m 80, the damn things are growing wild, and I’m too old to squat.” The ability to make fun and make light of your life is a gift that opens doors to new worlds. The story is rich in meaning addressing not only the stages we go through in life but offers a way to heal when you come to the end of your life and ones dreams may be unattained. Humor aids us as we let go of the things that trouble us.
All this and more propel us into another realm.
A realm of sensuous swaying rhythm, humor and joy that radiate paradise into eternity…
 Moore, Thomas. The Soul of Sex. (New York: Harper Perennial, 1998), 93.
 Peterson, Eugene H. “Song of Songs.” In The Message: The Wisdom Books, by Eugene H. Peterson, 375-390. (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1996). 376.
 Song of Songs 4:16 – 5:1 (Peterson 1996)
 Moore, Thomas. The Soul of Sex. (New York: Harper Perennial, 1998), 143.
 Mimeograph, Public domain. “Growing Wild.” In Honey,Hush! An Anthology of African American Women’s Humor, by Daryl Cumber Dance, 129. (New York: W.W.Norton and Company, 1998), 129.
Paul Gauguin, Apatarao, Painting, 1893 (Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.)
Emily Carr, Forest Landscape II, Oil on Paper, 1939. (University of California, San Diego)
Amedeo Modigiliani, Reclining Nude, Oil on Canvas, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Omegacen Polleri, Nasa Images
Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Women Bathing, Oil on Canvas, 1892 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)