The New Jerusalem-Part 2

RiverThis week we continued to study the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:9-22:5 and I couldn’t stop humming.

Let the river run.
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Do you remember these lyrics?  They were written by Carly Simon for the 1988 romantic comedy Working GirlLet the River Run perfectly captured the city of New York with its reference to the Hudson River and jungle beat.  The hymn-like theme song to this movie became my anthem at a time when I sported big hair, tweed suits and floppy bow ties.

Yes, I was one of those women in the eighties working hard to prove I could be equally as smart and equally as successful as a man.  There’s a line in the movie delivered by the villain (Sigourney Weaver) that cracks me up every time I hear it: Never burn bridges. Today’s junior prick is tomorrow’s senior partner.  I suppose it’s a good thing to find humor in a statement that is still, unfortunately, very relevant.

What made the movie so popular?  The average working woman could identify with the daily challenges experienced by the heroine (Melanie Griffith), specifically, raging sexism and a class system where the privileged had all the power.  In the end, she overcame her challenges, got the job, and moved in with the guy (Harrison Ford).

Sexism has come a long way since the eighties, but the class system is unfortunately alive and well.  It’s exciting for me that current presidential primary platforms are exposing the disproportional and sometimes unethical power practiced in our communities by the wealthy.  In the New Jerusalem, there is no class system; equality is the norm.

My first child was born the year Baby Boom was released, another of my favorite films during that time in my life. The movie depicted through comedy the very real dilemma faced by working mothers.  An Ivy League female yuppie (young urban professional) with a high-powered career and a six figure income experiences a spiritual breakthrough (referred to by some as a nervous breakdown) after inheriting a child.

It’s like a grown up fairy tale when in the end, the heroin (Diane Keaton) gets the job, the baby, the guy (Sam Shepard) and lives happily ever after.  I still cheer when she declines a multi-million dollar offer from her former employer by saying, “I think the rat race is gonna have to survive with one less rat.”

The theme song from Baby Boom often made me weep. Ever Changing Times was written by Burt Bacharach et al.  The soundtrack contained a cut performed by Siedah Garrett  and a few years later, Aretha Franklin released an album containing a soulful rendition as a duet with Michael McDonald.

These, are ever-changing times
Everything is going so much faster
It seems like I’m
Watching my life, and everything I do
Wondering if the dreams that I believed in
Still come true

Caught in between, it comes back to
You and me running out of time, I gotta find me a better understanding
Every day keeps forgetting what’s mine, I gotta find me a way, less-demanding
And we’re holding on so tight, together, all of our lives

As a working mother I was exhausted; there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to please everyone.  My support network of family and friends were lifesavers, literally, and my husband was awesome, but I was too often miserable.  It took me a long time to take a hard look and change things up.  Hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Now I see that I was driven to accumulate degrees and dollars and square footage for all the wrong reasons; I measured my worth by them.  More did not fulfill me.  Now that I am older and wiser, I have found gratitude to be the key to fulfillment.  There’s nothing wrong with any of the above mentioned things (education, wealth, stuff); it’s just that in my case, they were more important to me than being whole.  I sacrificed my spirit to feed my ego.

Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem as the Holy City, the bride, the wife of the Lamb (Jesus).  Again we see marriage imagery used to describe the relationship or union between God and God’s people (also referred to as the Church with a capital “C”).  The New Jerusalem is a place of unconditional love and peace; a place void of ego.

One will find in this chapter a very specific description of the Holy City with streets of gold.  It’s surrounded by a wall encrusted with jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, ruby, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, turquoise, jacinth and amethyst.  The wall has twelve pearly gates.  Now I know where all those jokes about Saint Peter monitoring the pearly gates come from.  The New Jerusalem is a place of comfort and safety.

The jewels seen by John have the kinds of metaphysical properties one would expect and are consistent with the adornments on the breastplates of the high priests in the Old Testament.  Love is in the Earth is a great reference to find specifics on each crystal and mineral in John’s vision.

It’s interesting that the city was described as cube shaped with a length, width and height of 12,000 stadia (1400 miles or 2,200 kilometers).   Sacred geometry and numerology enthusiasts have plenty to ponder here in the search for deeper meaning and alternative biblical translations.

On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:25-27

Revelation 22 goes on to describe the New Jerusalem as Eden restored by showing John the river of the water of life flowing through the city and the tree of life (Genesis) on each bank.  I envision this to look something like a banyan tree I once saw in Lahaina, Maui (Hawaii) with sixteen trunks and a circumference of one-quarter mile.  The tree in Maui, by the way, is miniscule when compared to the tree of life described by John.

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of all nations. Revelation 22:2

As magnificent as the tree of life sounds, it’s the river of the water of life, I think, that had me humming the Carly Simon song.  In my younger years, a New Jerusalem, or paradise, was a place where women could enjoy high-powered careers, equal pay for equal work, and flexible hours.  Maybe the river in her song is the Hudson, maybe it’s a metaphor for moving forward, but maybe her lyrics are deeper than that? Was my affinity to that song unlocking something deeper in me?

This question wouldn’t have been on my radar if I hadn’t read these verses in Revelation.  So many of our beliefs are influenced by others and keep us from our own awakenings.  I never imagined at the start of this study that Revelation would give me a new perspective when viewing a movie or listening to music.

Messages present themselves in the most unlikely places.  Keep your eyes and ears open; an open mind and heart may follow.

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One Response to The New Jerusalem-Part 2

  1. Diane McG says:

    Once again, a spiritually challenging and musically enjoyable educational moment. I am so pleasantly surprised to see you have not lost your musical experiences and talent. I still ha e a copy of your record!

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