In pure prayer, God whispers in the hidden garden of the heart, ‘I am I AM, thy God, turn and see!’ Prayer in the garden discovers God is ‘I AM,’ revealing God to us. My ‘me’ is not ‘I AM,’ usurping God at centre, because even when I become self-centred and fall from glory, God always actually remains ‘I AM’ and my ‘me’ his Thou off centre, unconfused with ‘I AM’ at centre. Pure prayer in the garden inspires holy prophecy, witnessing that my ‘me’ is God’s Thou by grace, so his Thou and my ‘me’ are co-relational in Christ. My ‘me’ is most myself when I am Christ’s Thou, his beloved, and He the lover is in search of me in the garden as his Thou. Christly wisdom is the fountain of the garden of the heart, here, in the garden of paradise restored. Wisdom turns me right round from being ‘me’ in search of God out there to being God’s Thou centred on his ‘I AM’ in the midst. Christ is wisdom in search of me in the garden of the heart, where his glory dwells at centre within me. The fountain of turned seeing sustains a tree of life, wisdom’s hallowing of the Holy Name, whose glory is uncreated, healing light, here in the midst.
In prophecy, God reveals ‘I AM who I AM’ (Ex 3: 14), gently whispering here at centre, a still small voice in the midst (1 Kings 19:12). In pure prayer of the heart, the Spirit is witness to the Son here, God from God, ascribing all glory to God, in union with the Father. The heart’s great turn is an incomprehensible leap from ‘me’ to ‘I AM,’ from God out there to God at centre here, from a desert waste to a paradise garden nearer than near. God is ‘I AM’ here, unveiling his Name, embracing my ‘me’ there off-centre as his Thou, his son by grace, his beloved. His Name consumes confusion between ‘me’ and ‘I AM,’ undoing separation that divides lover from beloved. Neither monistic confusion nor dualistic division have purchase here, because prayer of the Name releases both extremes as union expands into communion. The garden of the heart is ineffable, ineffably transcending the dualisms and monisms of the binary mind.
Pure prayer in the garden knows God is ‘I AM’ and my created ‘me’ abides through God in the glory of his Name. This is the great turn to which elders bear witness and to which saints awaken when the Spirit opens the eye of their heart. The glory of the Name is God’s Kingdom come, because wisdom begins at the end of time with glory that was in the beginning, the Spirit’s witness to the timeless presence and awareness of the glory of the age to come. Outside the Spirit’s grace, the Kingdom to come is as good as absent and so in effect is still to come. Different Biblical eschatologies are reflections of the revelatory grace of wisdom’s witness to glory and not rational concepts in a logically consistent objectified system. The gardens of the heart each reflect different degrees or modes of union with God whose glory abides at centre in the midst.
The Spirit opens to the timeless life of glory which saints behold as the garden of the heart, to which prophets bear costly testimony. This opening is not accessible to a reductive Cartesian individualism or to an unseeing existentialist personalism but only to the wisdom of pure awareness and pure presence, the mystery of first-personhood unveiled in the light of the Name ‘I AM.’ The Spirit of Truth unveils ‘I AM’ from the Father through the Son, as ‘I am I AM thy God,’ as ‘I AM, He is God,’ as ‘I AM, my God.’ Scripture is woven not from our self-centred postponements of God-centred glorification but from manifold epiphanies of wisdom and multi-dimensional theophanies of glory. Only God says ‘I AM,’ so when the Word names the Name, the heart reflects this glory as a series of flourishing gardens, as differing theophanies of paradise.
The garden is one of Scripture’s great symbols, one of prophecy’s highly favoured poetic metaphors, employed to awaken hearts. Prophecy is neither prose nor poetry but a transmission of ineffable wisdom that employs both in order to awaken hearts to glory. The Spirit breaks open the closed circuit of self-centredness, prizing open the exclusions of all mutually exclusive twosomes with the radical openness of the divine Three in One and One in Three. The co-inherence, perichoresis, of the Three embraces us as ‘I AM’ from the Father, communicated through ‘I AM’ the Son, sustained in ‘I AM’ the Spirit of the hallowing Name of Three. ‘I AM’ is no longer confused with what I have, because the ‘me’ I have is not ‘I AM,’ the Name of names that turns me inside out, leaving ineffable gardens of paradise within.
The Beloved Disciple reveals that centred in God, my ‘me’ lies off centre, leaning on the breast of the Beloved. In Christ, I do not confuse my ‘me’ with ‘I AM’ because the warring powers of satanic separation or diabolical division cannot intrude between ‘I AM’ and ‘me.’ True, when seeing is lost and turning falls short of glory, my ‘me’ usurps ‘I AM,’ but I am unconscious of this fall until wisdom turns and glory sees. When wisdom unveils God’s Name in me, turning sees, turns and weeps, turns and wonders that despite me, God is ‘I AM’ in glory here at centre and wisdom sees who sees. Prophecy sings wisdom songs in enigmatic poetic prose to remind me that God is ‘I AM’ in his garden of wisdom and glory. ‘I AM’ is prophecy in elders and prayer in saints, mediating the ineffable to the ineffable. The Name is not like a separate intermediary because all dualisms are undone here. The Name is not an excuse for pantheistic confusion either, because all monisms are undone here too. ‘I AM’ is God, so with God at centre in the midst, we are all God-centred as God is, God-centred in his image, God-centred in the deifying likeness of God.
The decisive garden of paradise is the God-centred garden of resurrection, of God-centred ascension and of God-centred glory. Crucified in a garden, Christ was placed in a garden tomb, buried in the midst of a garden. Here in the garden, the tomb was sealed. Here in the garden, Christ descended into hell. Here in the garden, he rises from the tomb. Christ in this garden says to Mary Magdalene, ‘I AM, ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ (John 20:17). This woman in the garden is the Apostle to the apostles, the Apostolic Church in person, wisdom’s glory, bride of ‘I AM’ and mother of the awakened, who suffers pain as now she begins her apostolic child-bearing of resurrected children of God. The garden is the shrine of his and her unveiling but also of her suffering, her travail and her birthing of the glorified. Wisdom is forever gathering her deified children into the timeless life of the Name, restoring the lost glory of the first garden here in this garden tomb of Golgotha, now revealed to be a garden of resurrection. The garden tomb opens infernal hells to hallowing heavens, satanic separation to deifying union, diabolic division to glorifying communion. The heart is a garden tomb that includes inexplicable suffering but also mysteries of ineffable glory. The wisdom and the glory are one Spirit in the Name, one unbroken life in the timeless life of the suckling Lamb, one seamless weave in the manifold gardens of the radiant heart. Gardens of glory veil hearts until wisdom descends, wisdom’s revelation of glory in a garden tomb.