The Trees of Life

Mar 9, 2017 | Field Notes

I am sitting quietly looking out my window while listening to a beautiful collection of classical songs performed by The Trinity Choir under the direction of Daniel Taylor. Called ‘The Tree of Life’ it is an apt CD to be listening to on this cool, overcast March day as I ponder the tree in my front yard. This tree, a honey locust, was planted, in partnership with the City, in February 2016 in honour of my father who died at the end of October in 2015. The tree is about 15 feet high now and still quite scraggly. But, there are plenty of buds beginning to sprout in response to the warming and lengthening of our days here on the West Coast. We intentionally planted this tree in a spot where it would grow and provide shade during our increasingly warm summer days.

Each day, when I leave the house, I stop and contemplate this honey locust. While doing so I remember my father, the life he lived and the live he gave. I consider how I am still connected with him, and he with me. Indeed, much of who I am is due to the influence of my father, as well as my mother, and the life I live is connected to the life they gave to me. The symbiosis so often found in intergenerational relationships can easily be applied to the spiritual life. Indeed, as we exist and become fully who we are meant to be through our relationships with others so it is that we exist and grow in the spiritual life with the aid of others.

I think that this is one of the truths carried by the Christian story of creation. In the Garden of Eden God planted the tree of life, which was different from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life stood along with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden. (Genesis2: 9). We could interpret this to mean that life is different from and equal to the knowledge of right and wrong. The consciousness of good and evil is part of the human condition as is the desire for life which grounds the human quest for wholeness symbolized by the Garden of Eden. Indeed, it is by focusing on life that we find the way back to the Garden.

As I walk in our world today I see many examples of people focusing on life in many different ways and planting trees of life around them. Of course it is necessary to study the trees of knowledge as well for that is part of being human. Yet, I can only study the trees of knowledge for so long. Eventually, I must contemplate the trees of life. More than this I must, with others, plant trees of life wherever and whenever I can and there are lots of places in our world in need of trees of life. For today I think I’ll go outside and ponder the tree that stands in the gentle rain now falling from the heavens.

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