What I see looking out that window, whatever the season, is paradise; or, I should explain, a reminder of paradise. A new book I just read talks about how terribly important images of paradise were to the Christians of the early nine or ten centuries. If you look at the catacombs and other early Christian art you don't find depictions of the Crucifixion, but rather of paradise. It was the Church's way of holding before us the reality of the Risen Christ and his original gift to humankind of peace and harmony, of a place rich with life-giving water, of abundance of the sweet fruits of the earth, a place of non-violence and peace and sabbath rest. The early Christians believed in that image and reality for the hope which it held out, even amidst and despite the sufferings, disjointedness, perplexities, and oppression that might have been part of the fabric of their immediate lives. Always there was hope; paradise was real; and God was to be blessed for that gift.
And so, as I look out the window onto the remnant of paradise that appears before me, I'm drawn to its heart, which is the Heart of Love itself. In Him I take joy in such magnificence as the bushes and growth and the tree before me, in the animals whose simplicity and peace challenge me in my "antsiness" to get side-tracked by distractions or to get on with my busy-ness, in the sheer miracle of life at work in all of them. I'm led to thankfulness to be part of this paradise and to the hope which it holds out.
Dorothy Day wrote, in 1961: "I was thinking, how as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy that goes with loving." (The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, Ed. Robert Ellsberg, Marquette University Press, 2008, p. 310) As I sit by my office window each day, unavoidably getting older, I thank God for this little paradise outside helps me understand a bit better what Dorothy Day might have been talking about.