My mom emailed me a question this morning. She found an article in the Saint John paper about a world traveler from Hampton who has visited Africa, Europe, Central America and the South Pacific in search of life's greatest adventures and somewhere to call paradise. "Where is your paradise?" my mom wanted to know.
An excellent question, M.U. My paradise might be a desolate expanse of land in the Scottish Highlands. Green nothingness as far as the eye can see. Maybe a shop or two and a cafe or cozy pub in case you fancy a good tucker or some company. Walking distance from a beach that few other people know exists, where you can go to watch the waves crashing in on summer nights when the sun doesn't set.
It would be beautiful and relaxing. But for all eternity? Even in this paradise, there are things I would miss. I'd miss the North American trees - the brilliant reds and yellows of maple leaves in fall, the sound of the wind and cicadas in late summer and the sight of pines heavy with snow.
So maybe my paradise is a small clearing deep in the forest of Northern Ontario. There's a cabin with a fireplace for cold winter nights and a hammock in a spot of sunshine for summer afternoons. A lake, freezing in summer and frozen in winter, is visible through the trees. Plenty of woodland trails, chipmunks, wild blueberries.
But the ultimate introvert needs company sometimes too. Way out in the wilderness on my own, I might get lonely (or, more likely, my overactive imagination might get the better of me). Friends and family could live nearby, but many of the people I know wouldn't thrive so far from civilization and imagining them there seems a bit artificial, in a way.
So maybe my paradise is someplace, sometime when everyone is where they should be and everyone is together. Maybe it's those couple hours after Christmas Eve service when all five Bishops are together in the living room. The fire is blazing, the tree is lit and Christmas carols are playing in the background. Christmas cookies are on the coffee table, and maybe a carrot that someone added for a joke, as a reminder of the old days when we used to leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. I might pine for adventure after a bit, but that's what Christmas Eve is about, isn't it? Anticipation of great things to come and pleasure, for once, in the task of waiting.
Could I exist in that moment for all eternity? Probably.
Am I going to be super excited (in 19 days) when I'm once again on Canadian soil and, for the first time in two years, the whole Bishop family is under one roof?
You bet your pants.