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Welcome to paradise!

From the July 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal

"Welcome to paradise," the pilot announced. For many passengers on our flight this was indeed going to be a vacation in paradise. White sand beaches, blue ocean, sunny skies, air permeated with the tantalizing fragrance of exotic flowers! Who wouldn't consider this paradise? Yet among the cheers on the plane I heard my son's voice. "This is not paradise, this is home," he said. He was returning after an exciting vacation spent in an entirely different part of the country. Now his daily routine of school, homework, and study awaited him. Paradise, obviously, meant something different to him.

What is paradise? We all probably have our own description. To some of us paradise may mean a sunny tropical island, while to others it may look more like the snow-covered mountains of the Alps or the colorful cliffs of the Grand Canyon. What is pleasing to one may not be enjoyable to another. Paradise, then, could not be a specific physical environment. It must be a state of thought.

Centuries ago a young man named Jacob found paradise in a very unlikely situation. The Bible tells us that by deceiving his father, Jacob cheated his older brother, Esau, out of his birthright. See Gen., chap. 27 . Understandably, Esau was furious. He had been deprived of his father's blessing. He was so enraged that he intended to kill his brother. Jacob's mother, who had masterminded the scheme, sent her younger son away until such time as Esau would calm down and no longer pose a threat to Jacob. So Jacob set out for a distant country to stay with his uncle. Imagine how he must have felt as he prepared to settle down for a night alone with the burden of a guilty conscience, separated from all that he knew and loved. Neither Jacob's state of mind nor his physical location could have been described as paradise!

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