We've Got to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden
I watch contentedly from my bay window as the brown-eyed
Jersey cow munches lazily on red-top clover planted last
year. Her form is framed by green, rolling hills as clouds
move swiftly across the blue skies, casting dark shadows
against the hillside. The contrast of the light and darker
greens in this beautiful setting holds my eye, as I reflect
on the many blessings and promises of this good life.
I can almost imagine the sound of the fire
crackling and glowing behind me in the fireplace that will
be done by the cool fall weather. We had worked many hours
to acquire the dry, seasoned wood from our thirty-five acre
wood-lot. It will burn brightly in the fieldstone fireplace
our friends are helping us build - stones hand-picked from
one of our lower fields we had labored to prepare for seed.
Our home is made of logs my husband cut and hauled from the
woods with two of our fine draft horses. The house is large
and airy, with much light from windows receiving the southern
exposure. Though unfinished, it is truly the dream house
we had always hoped for. We borrowed only a small amount
of money to build our home and spent countless hours working
on it, laboring long days to make it strong and lasting,
a testimony to our determination, the fruit of a dream realized.
We have peace and security and are growing each day to be
more self-sufficient from a world we don’t care to
It came slowly at first, this feeling of everything not
being totally right. True, we seemed to be on our way back
to the garden, didn’t we? A fine home, good marriage,
beautiful land and healthy children. We had escaped the
establishment, we thought, yet we knew deep down inside
we did not have real peace in our hearts. Our tranquillity
was only external and it was becoming clear to us, ever
so gradually, that we had no lasting serenity in our souls.
The fulfillment of our dream hadn’t brought us to
a place of contentment. Our happiness was only superficial;
it had no depth. There was still an empty place deep in
our beings that longed for something we weren’t sure
we could find. We knew there were questions we had since
our youth that remained unanswered. Escaping into the hills
of Maine to become as self-sufficient as possible hadn’t
brought relief to the problems we saw in ourselves or in
the world. Even though beautiful and serene, the forests
and fields could give no answers. We had tried so hard to
not be like our parents and the establishment, but we were
beginning to realize we had the same foundational problems,
only disguised or altered by an alternative lifestyle.
Ever since I could remember I had always sought to know
what my purpose in life was. As a young child I would sit
by the ocean and wonder about God and his creation. As a
youth growing up in the ’60s, in frustration I had
demanded to know, “What is reality?” I questioned
why we were on the earth. Was it to help usher in an age
of peace? How? Where was God and why was He so distant?
My friends and I were rude in our quest for an answer, and
rebelled against anything that merely wafted of authority.
Never having taken Christianity seriously, I searched for
answers in every avenue of Eastern philosophies. But no
matter how long I sat in my dark, incense-filled room and
meditated, the feeling of peace quickly wore off and I emerged
the same disgruntled teenager. I wanted to be a kind person.
My selfishness and quick temper bothered my conscience and
I hated the way I treated my parents and friends. I hated
the way they treated me. Worthlessness hung over me like
a dark cloud. How could anything be different?
I threw myself into the peace movement and labored selflessly
day and night. Is this what I was created to do with my
life? Could we bring about a new society? Maybe everyone
would just wake up one morning with the same song in their
heart and say, “Hey, this is crazy! Let’s stop
making war and start loving each other!” I thought
maybe this was reality. We just needed enough positive vibes
to get it rolling.
Years passed. Though disillusioned, I never stopped looking
for the answer and my spiritual roots. I tried higher education.
Maybe there my mind and soul could be enlightened and I
could discover who I was and what it was we were all supposed
to be doing here. I was enlightened all right. My rebellion
reached new heights and college succeeded in almost smothering
my already-stifled conscience. I had a few morals, a few
absolutes in my life that I had tenaciously hung on to,
but my liberal education finished them off. The few basic
truths my parents had taught me were cast to the wind. Higher
education gave me no answers, but only more questions. It
taught me to question everything, even long-established
good things, and to reason away my screaming conscience.
Taking on my professors’ philosophies and those of
the authors I read, I felt like a small boat tossed about
a very confused sea. I was told everything could be reality,
things I thought were bad were really good and anything
I believed was real. Somehow the little common sense I possessed
told me that was ridiculous, and the meaning of life eluded
me more than ever.
I tried working within the system as a teacher, but eventually
dropped out. I saw so many needs in the children, but was
powerless to really help them. I could try to love them,
but between the parents undoing what confidence I tried
to instill, the bureaucracy working against meeting their
real needs, and my own insecurities and uncertainties, I
didn’t have much hope of having an impact on their
little lives. What answers could I give them?
Alternating between searching for reality and trying to
avoid it through drugs and alcohol, my husband and I decided
to begin a new life homesteading. For eight or nine years
we gave all our energy to our farm, lumbering business,
animals and children. We tried to forget the problems in
society and the problems we knew were still in us. But having
children really gave us a different perspective on life
and further exposed ways in us we knew had to change. What
answers about life would we give them?
We worked harder, trying to disguise the frustration of
knowing there was nothing we could do about anything. A
nagging conscience was causing our dream to lose its zeal.
I fought the thought that the purpose of life was only to
work the land, grow old and some day be buried under the
old apple tree... compost to the earth. There had to be
more to life than this meaningless death! Many times late
at night, when the children were all sleeping, I would stand
at the edge of the hill gazing at the dark night and cry.
Sometimes I would lie in the grass and sob. All the frustration
of my youth would surface as I cried out, “What was
I created for? Why can’t I be happy?” I raised
my hands toward the star-filled heavens and screamed, “God,
if you’re there, speak to me.”
God, in His mercy, did hear me. Over the next few months
my husband and I both came to believe there was a God and
that He sent His son to the earth to forgive us and give
us a good conscience. Was this my answer, the truth I sought?
Unfortunately, our excitement soon turned to disappointment
as we couldn’t find the church that matched the description
of believers we read about in the New Testament. Christianity
seemed as plagued with division, strife, and greed as the
non-believers or the establishment. We wanted so much to
fit in and be happy like all the smiling Christians we saw
in church on Sunday. Little did we know that many of them
were as miserable as we were, but had concluded that this
was the best life had to offer, and after all, they were
heaven-bound. It seemed to us that the goal of Christianity
was to get people saved so they could go to heaven. (Was
everybody else going to hell?) But what about in the meantime?
Weren’t his people supposed to be his disciples, doing
his will here on earth as in heaven, being a demonstration
of God’s love?
Somehow the reality of God’s love and forgiveness
escaped me. I tried to muster up good feelings and repeat
Bible verses over and over, but I was still left at my kitchen
sink, overlooking my lovely woods, with tears streaming
down my face. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I
feel God’s love? I thought I had reached the end of
the line. If this wasn’t what life was all about,
there was no hope. So many people of my generation had gone
back to church looking for their spiritual roots. Were the
others like us, looking to fulfill a deep desire to be right
with God? But why did so many tolerate the disunity and
compromise we saw? How could they close their eyes to the
closets full of shoes some had while others had none? There
had to be a way to be obedient to what we read in the Bible.
We believed God had something greater in mind than for His
people to be saved for heaven but left to live their own
independent, purposeless lives here on earth. Even though
we met many sincere believers, the farce of Christian brotherhood
was as unreal as some of the New Age philosophies.
In 1979, we met a group of people who had the quality of
life we were seeking. They had peace — the peace we had
always desired and sought but never obtained. They were
a community of people who had a good conscience, loving
and being obedient to the One who created them. They had
the answer and had found the reason for their existence.
We were skeptical at first. We were of the generation who
had experienced free-love communes and the Jesus movement,
but we kept coming back to visit. With all of their human
failings we saw that they were a people who were actually
living the life of what we had read in the Scriptures. Their
life together was a living proof that there is a God who
desires a people to represent his loving character on the
face of the earth. Their unity was living proof that God
did send his son, whom we know as Yahshua,* to save us from
our selfish motives and desires. Finally we could believe
it because we saw a demonstration — proof of the life we
had longed for. Yahshua is the one who can change man’s
heart! He is the one we must receive to have this new life!
After much thoughtful consideration and many conversations,
my husband and I decided to leave our dream in order to
join our lives with these people. We decided our hope needed
to be in the Messiah and in being a people who were demonstrating
his life on the earth.
We understand that the God of heaven is re-gathering His
people, the twelve tribes of Israel which have been scattered
throughout the world for a long, long time. It is clear
to us that God’s people were intended to be a social
people. We were never intended to live independently and
separate from one another. He has had one intention since
He first created us, and he is lovingly and earnestly trying
to win our hearts. He is the God of love, peace, and justice.
It was never His intention that the earth would become so
corrupt or that our hearts would be so distant from His.
He is determined that the earth will be restored to the
garden-like state it knew when man first was created. He
desires a people who will love Him more than their own lives.
It is life for a life — we give up ours and He will give
us his. This is the only way back to the garden.
He can’t bring restoration to the earth apart from
a people who care, a people willing to have their hearts
changed, a people willing to admit their need for forgiveness.
Leaving our farm and home was one of the most difficult
things we had ever done. But finding our Creator, our Father,
and in Him love, purpose, peace, forgiveness, and a good
conscience made it all worthwhile. We found the answer.
We now know why and for whom we were created. My husband,
children, friends, and I are now a part of the most active,
passionate, and radical demonstration for justice and peace
on the face of the earth. Our Creator’s desire is
to raise up communities of people all over the world, living
together in unity, dwelling in peace, and loving their God
with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and their
neighbor as themselves.
There is something in all of us to grope for God. We were
created in His image, so instinctively we sense our need
for Him. Living together as we do is hard sometimes because
we are selfish and have been trained to be independent,
but the hope of there being a new earth ał with no more
pain, sorrow, war, or hunger — gives us vision to press
on. We are being set free to love. Whoever truly desires
to see justice established, whoever desires to live for
His created purpose, whoever desires a new heart will be
a part of this new earth. There is no other way back to
Our hope is to find others who are seeking a spiritual foundation.
If you are one who is searching (whether you are an established
middle-class baby-boomer, a New Age devotee living off the
land, a dissatisfied Christian, or a teenager unsure of
what to do with your life), and you can’t bear to
compromise what you truly desire in your heart, please come
and see us! Our God is so good and He rewards those who