Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

the tree of life...for the healing of the nations, Rev 22:2, lino print, by Tobias Mayer, 2023

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2

The story of humankind's relationship with God begins with the planting of a garden in the early days of creation. The garden contains trees to provide not just food for our bodies, but also for our minds, and for life itself.1 The tree of life in the midst of the garden is representative of our core relationship with God, the central nervous system from which emanates and radiates all activity, behaviours, ideas, choices and celebrations. We return to the tree of life in this, the final chapter of Revelation, the final book of the Bible.

Whereas the Old Testament is essentially the story of humankind repeatedly falling away from God, and the New Testament the story of our attempts to return, the book of Revelation takes us full circle to the beginning of the whole story, reconnecting our born-again selves with God's original intent. The garden that God planted for us is a garden of abundance. It has everything we need, and although we may have forgotten the garden, and over time lost much of the gift, with the promise of a new heaven and a new earth we are offered the opportunity to receive it all again, to begin anew, and to heal—to heal ourselves, our communities, our own nation, and ultimately all the nations of the world, not as separate entities but as the entirety of God's people.

On what are the twelve manner of fruits that the tree of life bears we can but speculate. Just as the garden God planted was to feed more than our bodies, so the fruits of the tree of life are likely to be food for our minds, our emotions, our relationships, our spirits, our very souls. Perhaps these fruits are our innate resources, such as the rational mind, the imagination, the dreaming brain, our ability to pattern match, to build rapport, to observe ourselves, reflect, introspect, improve.2 The Garden has everything we need. It is our God-given gift, and if we open our eyes to it, open our hearts, we will see as clear as crystal and from wherever we are in life, right now, as individuals and as communities, we can begin the healing of the nations.

1 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. — Genesis 2:9
2 This list of innate resources is inspired by the work of Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell and their creation of the 'human givens' approach to mental health and wellbeing. Read What are the human givens? to learn more about this approach.