As I awoke, I heard a voice. “In the beginning, God created the tree of life.”
My guide took me to a garden, green and blooming, with four rivers running through it. And at the center, the tree of life stood tall, giving life to all of creation. A man and a woman tilled the soil, ate of its fruit, and were satisfied.
“But it came to pass,” he explained, “that man and woman ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When sin entered the world, so did death.” And I saw an angel drive the man and the woman out of the garden. With a flaming sword, flashing back and forth, the angel blocked the way to the tree of life.
Banished from the garden, the man worked the ground. But no longer did it produce fruit. Up sprang thorns, thistles, and the desire to rule. Work became toil. Splinters caused pain. A curse frustrated man’s best efforts to once again eat from the tree of life. Labor left him with an incomplete longing.
Wood gave way to bronze, iron and stone. “And men,” my guide explained, “sought to build their own city, forged in iron, as a hedge against death, a man-made source of life.”
Then I saw men from every tribe, tongue and nation build a tower, rising to heaven. It was a monument to Self. And suddenly I saw it crash to the ground, its workers babbling in confusion.
The curse worked its way from cement to cities, from single projects to civilizations. I looked onto the world, and I wept.
“What can be done?” I cried out. “Is there no way home?”
And then he said, “The ancient storytellers have seen far into the future. And they see another tree. Listen to their words.”
I lifted my head. My guide said, “I have seen the throne of God. And flowing from the throne down the great street of the city is a river, clear as crystal. And behold, bursting through the city street is the tree of life. It yields fruit forevermore, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of nations.”
“Let me sit in its shade,” I said. He replied, “You cannot. You must see one more tree.”
And he took me to a small, dusty carpenter’s shop. At the center was a man, humble yet fierce, crafting a table for his mother. “Why have you taken me here?” I asked as I saw the unfinished table surface.
He simply replied, “Behold, the man.”
As I turned around, I felt a cool rush of darkness sweep over me. I saw a crowd, spitting, mocking the carpenter. As he lay on the ground, a soldier threw a beam on him, rough hewn, splintered. The solider forced the man to carry the harsh beam up the hill, as clouds overtook the sky.
They pierced his hands and feet, and hung him to the wood, the object of his work. “Why?” I cried out. “His eyes are good. Why?” And my guide simply said, “Cursed is the man who hangs on a tree.”
“Must I watch?” I begged. “There is only one way back to the tree of life,” He replied. “And it is through this tree of death.”
And then there was silence.
“Look,” he said. I saw another garden. The sun was rising. And the carpenter’s tomb was empty. And two angels, clothed in light, said to me, “There is no death here. He is alive. He is alive! Now go and do his work.”
“What work shall I do?” I asked. Suddenly, I saw the city, but now light was streaming over the mountains onto its spires. And I saw the carpenter’s work before me, now complete.
I received no answer to my question. He only said, “Come, follow me.”
“Sir, one more question,” I asked. “When may I eat once more of the tree of life?”
And he replied simply with a promise. “For like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”
He finally whispered into my ear, “Behold, I make all things new.”
The above pictures were taken at the new offices of Denver Institute for Faith & Work at 600 Grant St., Suite 722, home of the 5280 Fellowship. The furniture was made by Josh Mabe, owner of Twenty1Five, a reclaimed wood furniture business based in Monument, Colorado ([email protected]).