Paradise at the Palace

Where is this calm and tranquil beauty spot? It is in Central London and just a few hundred yards from one of the most famous thoroughfares in the world- the Mall. This is part of the gardens of Buckingham Palace, surrounded on all sides by high walls from the busy roads, urban grime and thronging crowds. It is a walled oasis, a veritable paradise. It is the largest private garden in the capital and boasts 325 wild-plant species, 30 types of breeding bird and over 1,000 trees, including 85 different species of oak. A poor palace offers its occupant no opportunity to walk among trees and a lake, no matter how close it must be to a government’s heart.

Paradise comes from Greek parádeisos (παράδεισος), from Proto-Iranian parādaiĵah- "walled enclosure”. A haven, an escape, a safe space from which the bustles and hustles of urban living may be fled. In Revelation 2:7, the Lord Jesus declares

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’ (NKJV)

Heaven is an escape from the tedium, toil or turbulence of this life. Yet tokens of it we now enjoy- in our fellowship, our service, our prayer life. It is a place to which we are heading, and in which we are already, in part, to be found. Though we trudge among the grimy streets and tracks of this fallen world, we are heading to a palace whose lush gardens are Eden itself.