Thursday, June 14, 2012

Heaven at Paradise

My best friend came in from out of town today. She lives on the East side of the state, and I live in the Middle, so we're no longer able to see each other as much as we'd like.

When she got to my house, we ate some breakfast and decided that we needed to do something grand! I remembered our vow to one day break into an old abandoned prison in Nashville and explore it, but we thought that might be an adventure to be planned further in advance.

We knew it was hot outside, so I suggested swimming. Where? Paradise, baby! It's a modest sized place off of a back road just outside of town where you can fix camp fires and haul in coolers and tables up on the flat top of the cliff. Then, if you climb down to the edge of the cliff you can jump off and make a twelve-foot drop into the creek where it's about fifteen feet deep.

We put on our bathing suits and took off in her convertible. Top down. Music turned up. Sunshine on our skin.

We found the hidden little dirt parking area at the entrance to Paradise and hiked down the dirt trail to the open area where the cliff was. We couldn't wait to jump in, but wanted to relax a bit first. We lit a fire made from whatever twigs and plants we could find, and got to feeling pretty good.

We soon found Heaven. Climb down the left side of the boulder, hold onto the tree there and swing around, jump down to the rock platform underneath, and look behind you.

There is a rock wall. It's covered in slick green moss, with some scattered wild mushrooms jutting directly out from the side. That was our village. We lived there. We knew its caves and its crevices. It was home. We stood there like slaves, hands against the wall, backs exposed. I looked above where I was standing and saw another great rock wall, but it was more like the Great Wall of China, or the walls around Jerusalem. Then we looked up above the city and saw God's Temple. It was the underside of a huge oak tree, where the root system was exposed above the rock. So many little vines, almost like the veins that run throughout our human bodies. Spider webs, ant angels that floated about doing God's work; so many living creatures, beautiful. And the sun shone down through the tree leaves and penetrated our black pupils so that we saw the Light of Heaven as we looked upon it.

After a long conversation and ample observation of our surroundings, we climbed back up the cliff and sat on its edge, looking into the water. It was murky, but we could just make out some of the small fish that swam just below the surface. There was a large black ant crawling near me so I flicked him into the water. We looked over the edge and just as we did a little trout fish jumped up and snatched him. We were both astonished and thoroughly impressed.

Heaven's boat soon drifted our way. We looked down, like two emperors scouting out their next kingdom. We didn't want to be taken away on the boat. It was a ferry for the souls who have gone before us, we concluded. So instead, my friend said, "Let's bomb it!" We hunted for small stones and launched them into the water. I hit it once, she didn't. We took it to mean I was going to Hell for hitting Heaven's boat, and she would be punished for instigating the attack.

It was a good day. She and I always make great memories together. We left Paradise that day having found Heaven in a root system, and having never jumped into the water. So much for swimming.

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