I have built this blog on the metaphor of the two special trees planted in the Garden of Eden: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and The Tree of Life. I have said that neither was forbidden, rather that both were intended for us. We ate from the first and became aware of our potential for good and evil – the choice between connection and separation. We can make the choice of moving on to the second.
Since childhood I have loved C.S. Lewis’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia. Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of reading some of them to my granddaughter. A nine-year-old sometimes teenager, she has, to my delight, fallen for them almost as surely as I did when they were given to me fifty years ago. My parents – Mom’s idea, pretty sure – had this habit of giving us a book at our birthday and another at Christmas. Judging by the gift date inscribed in The Magician’s Nephew, book six in this seven book series, I likely received these in a period from the age of ten to thirteen.
The Magician’s Nephew, the creation story of Narnia, is really a prequel to the series. As such, it contains its version of how evil came into the world, including a role for a magical mystical garden.
What I find interesting about Lewis’s garden is that there is only one tree. The tree and its fruit hold great power. The garden is surrounded by a high, though easily scaled earthen berm, with beautiful closed gates. On the gates there is an inscription that reads:
Come in by the gold gates or not at all,
Take of my fruit for others or forbear.
For those who steal or those who climb my wall
Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.
The gates of the garden open with a touch for the person whose thought is for kindness, for compassion, for healing, for relationship, and the fruit of the garden yields exactly their heart’s desire, with accompanying deep satisfaction.
For the person whose thought is only selfish pleasure, gain and power, the gates may not open, but entry is not prevented, nor is taking of the fruit. And again it yields exactly what it was created to yield – the heart’s desire – selfish pleasure, gain and power, with the accompanying, ultimately gnawing, isolation and despair of disconnection.
The Trees are in reality one. They are the tree of prana, the source of all that enlivens us. They are the great I AM, AUM, Creator/Spirit/Mind/Source, eternal and always accessible. And the garden never goes away. It is not a one-trip salad bar. We go back over and over. Often times we go over the wall to snatch for ourselves, fearful that there is not enough, fearful that our pleasure is wrong, wanting more than our share, chasing the desire that leads to pain and isolation.
We do not change the tree. We do not make it other than it is. We simply choose our entry, our approach, which shapes our encounter and our experience. Thief, possessor, abuser? Guest, steward, partner? We choose, individually, corporately, in each moment and each breath.
The garden, the tree, is not the world of our action. It is the source of our being. We cannot make or break the source. But we can make or break its creative or destructive expression in our bodies, our minds, our relationships, our society and our world.
We are offered, and feed daily upon, the fruit of the Tree of Life. And every time we eat it, we experience, we express its life force as the fulfillment of our heart’s desire.
How much, how often, must we fill ourselves with the knowledge of good and evil – with our urge to personal and isolated “will,” for solely personal satisfaction, protection and satiation – before we learn to enter every day the golden gates of “willingness,” to trust in the satisfaction of enough, to relax in being part of rather than possessor of, to give and to receive rather than to force and to grab.
The call of the prophets and avatars has always been simple and the same. Choose life. The difference between the trees, friends, is really only the difference of how we enter the garden. Do we come through the gate with a willing heart, or over the wall with a willful heart? Either way, we leave filled. We leave fueled to build the world of our heart’s desire.
© Two Trees in the Garden. Use what is useful. Please quote the source.