God is Waiting for you in the Garden
- Hi, Everyone
I had a dream the other night that revealed the inner meaning of the
Book of Genesis to me. I have written it up as a chapter in my book
Daughter of the Blessed, but thought I would send it on to you just to
prove to you that I am still alive. Marina has been with us now for a
year and has just turned 7. What a fabulous kid, if I do say so myself.
She has forgotten most of her Russian and is reading and writing at
first grade level. She loves gymnastics and is a little clothes horse.
She has a closet that looks like a Ymelda Marcos shoe fantasy. Mary Kay
and I have bought a house, originally built in 1889, that needs a whole
lot of renovation. Its in a great school district and is close to my
sister and her family, about four doors down, so we are going to have an
extended family enclave.
My love to you all,
Happy New Year!
There are two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree
of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What are these mysterious trees? Are
they just props for the story line or do they have a significant
meaning? The God who creates the heavens and the earth, the sun, moon,
and stars, the grass and the flowers, and everything that creeps upon
the earth, ultimately creates a beautiful garden. A garden is a place of
burgeoning life. Every plant and flower, every beast and bird, has its
own power of growth and its own natural form. A garden is also a place
of order and design so that the burgeoning power of growth is controlled
and expresses itself in beauty. The power of growth is represented by
the Tree of Life and the natural beauty of order and design is
represented by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Ordinarily we
think of Good and Evil as defined by the commands of morality such as:
“Thou shalt not kill.” But the context here is a broader one that
reveals the inner meaning of morality. God creates the world in six days
and at the end of each day he looks at his creation and calls it Good.
On the sixth day, when his work is done, he calls it very Good. What is
Good then is the beauty of the created order. What is Evil is the
ugliness of the primal chaos from which God creates the natural world.
The commands of morality are designed to put us in harmony with the
intrinsic beauty of the created order.
Human beings are aware of the power of life within. We feel it in our
breath. We feel it in our bodies. We feel it welling up as excitement,
sexuality, and love. We are also acutely aware of the beauty of creation
and the sacred wonder of existence. These are the Two Trees, but the
feelings conflict. Life wants to go its own way, compelled to express
itself in ecstatic immediacy. It does not want to be controlled by the
harmonious beauty of a greater order. It is the work of our conscious
selves to create the beautiful garden by combining the power of the life
within us with our perception of the sacred beauty of the created order
The story of the Garden of Eden is the story of childhood and
childhood’s end. Naked and unaware Adam and Eve live like children in
the garden. They do not have to do any work. They are fed and protected
in a place of safety. Like children leaning language, they give names to
everything around them. But children grow up. They become aware of what
they want for themselves. They rebel against the rules that give peace
and protection. They eat from the forbidden Tree. They learn how to
lie–instead of taking responsibility Adam blames his disobedience on Eve
and Eve blames hers on the Serpent. They become aware of sexuality. They
grow up enough to move out of the house and begin working for a living.
They marry and have children of their own.
The problem with human beings is that they forget the sacred beauty of
the divine order and live for themselves. Cain kills Abel in a fit of
rage. The Tower of Babel is raised as a monument to human pride. The
inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah lose themselves in soulless sexuality.
Esau is so oblivious he sells his birthright for a bowl of soup. Laban
tries to cheat Jacob out of the price of his labor. Consumed with envy
Joseph’s brothers steal his coat and throw him into a pit. Hesitating to
kill him they sell him into slavery instead.
What God wants are people who can choose the overarching sacred beauty
of the good, rather than the immediate power and the emotional chaos of
what is evil. This good is the intrinsic beauty of the created order.
When Noah survives the chaos of the great flood, he has with him male
and female pairs of all the animals of the earth, everything that has
the breath of life in it. He has cherished all living beings and has
preserved them so that they may increase and multiply, filling the earth
again with the grandeur of the divine order. Likewise we should cherish
the web of life and bridle ourselves so that we do not destroy it
through greed for our own life.
The spiritual masters who wrote the Book of Genesis believed that God
wants to create another garden, this time a garden of grown-ups who can
worship God and his creation in the fullness of their hearts, choosing
of their own free will the goodness of created beauty over the ugliness
of selfish emotion. He chose Abraham to father the nation of those who
worship the one God and gave him the fertile land of Canaan to be their
home. The God who preserves this new garden in the Promised Land is the
God of Life. Be fruitful and multiply is his divine wish. His sign is
the severed foreskin, which shows that his worshipers recognize that the
power of generation belongs to God. The fruitfulness of the land, the
beauty of the earth, and the blessings of children are the gifts of God.
When they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is
the Tree of the Knowledge of Ordered Beauty and Chaotic Ugliness, Adam
and Eve became aware that they were naked. They realized the power of
their sexuality. When it is used with sacred awareness, it is a way of
participating in the beauty of God’s creation. When it is used with
selfish awareness, it is a way of participating in the ugliness of a
The stories of the patriarchs show us the qualities that God wants in
those who will people his new garden.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, when God
commanded it. Even this horrible demand did not shake his faith in the
goodness of his God. We are all at risk for the loss of the things that
are nearest and dearest to us–our children, our spouse, our friends, our
health, our money, our pride. The spiritual adult can maintain a sense
of the beauty of creation in spite of encountering the horrors of
When God tells Abraham that he is going down to Sodom and Gomorrah to
destroy those cities and all their inhabitants, Abraham is overcome with
compassion for his fellow humans, even though they are his enemies. He
works up his courage and actually confronts God. Starting from 50 good
people, he argues God down to saying that he will not destroy the cities
if there are even 10 good people there. Abraham does not ask God to save
these good people by removing them from the coming destruction. He uses
them in an attempt to save all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The
spiritual adult has compassion, even for his enemies, and has the
courage to confront power in pursuit of justice and mercy.
Jacob, Isaac’s son, dreams of a ladder between heaven and earth with
angels ascending and descending on it. When he awakens, he says to
himself, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. How
awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and
this is the gate of heaven.” (Gen ) The spiritual adult is aware not
only of the sacredness of the transcendent God in heaven but of the
sacredness of the earth as well. The two are not separated but are part
of the same whole.
In order to escape the anger of his brother Esau, Jacob goes to live
with his mother’s brother Laban. There he falls in love with Laban’s
daughter Rachel. He works for Laban for seven years in order to provide
a bride price for Rachel, but Laban fools him into marrying his oldest
daughter Leah instead. He has to work for another seven years to marry
Rachel. He continues to work for Laban but Laban tries to cheat him out
of his wages. Exercising his ingenuity Jacob defeats Laban’s schemes and
“...grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, maidservants and
menservants, and camels and asses.” (Gen 30:43) The spiritual adult
persists in the face of injustice, working continually toward fullness
Taking all his wives, children, servants, and flocks Jacob returns to
his own country, but is in mortal fear when he learns that his brother
Esau is riding out to meet him with 400 men. Sending all of his
household ahead he decides to spend the night alone. God appears to him
in the form of a man and wrestles with him through the night. At
daybreak the man wounds Jacob by putting his thigh out of joint, but
Jacob still won’t let him go. He says, “I will not let you go unless you
bless me.” After the blessing, when the man has departed, Jacob says, “I
have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” When Esau
arrives with his 400 men, he runs to meet Jacob, embraces him, kisses
him, and they both weep. The spiritual adult, even in times of terror,
wrestles with his sense of the sacred, holds fast to it, and will not
let it go. It may wound him, but he will not release it until it blesses
Jacob’s son Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, is taken
south and is sold to the Egyptian official Potiphar. He prospers there
and becomes the trusted overseer of all of Potiphar’s estates. Because
he is young and handsome, Potiphar’s wife falls for him and begs him to
have an affair with her. He says that Potipahr trusts him and has been
good to him, how can he betray that trust? Day after day she implores
him to sleep with her. One day, when they are alone, she catches him by
his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” but he leaves his garment in her
hand and flees out of the house. Using the garment as evidence, she
accuses him of trying to rape her, and he is thrown into prison. The
spiritual adult honors the obligations of trust, in spite of temptations
to pleasure and the possibility of personal danger.
In prison Joseph interprets dreams for two of Pharaoh’s officials who
are serving time with him. His predictions come true and when Pharaoh
hears of it, he summons Joseph to interpret a dream of his own. In his
dream seven sleek and fat cows come up out of the Nile and feed on the
reed grass. They are followed by seven gaunt and thin cows that come up
from the river. The gaunt and thin cows eat up the sleek and fat cows.
Joseph interprets the dream to mean that there will be seven years of
plenty in the land of Egypt followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh
recognizes the truth of what is said and appoints Joseph to prepare
Egypt for the coming famine by storing up grain during the years of
plenty. When the famine comes it is world wide; it affects Canaan, too.
Starving, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. When Joseph
reveals himself to his brothers, he says, “I am your brother, Joseph,
whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with
yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to
preserve life.” The spiritual adult is forgiving to others and sees
disaster as part of a divine pattern opening to future goodness.
Here then is the portrait of the spiritual adult painted by the masters
who wrote the Book of Genesis: She can maintain a sense of the beauty of
creation in spite of encountering the horrors of everyday life such as
the loss of a child, a spouse, a friend, health, money, or personal
pride. She is forgiving to others and sees disaster as part of a divine
pattern opening to future goodness. She is aware not only of the
sacredness of the transcendent God in heaven but of the sacredness of
the earth as well. The two are not separated but are part of the same
whole. Even in times of terror, she wrestles with her sense of the
sacred, holds fast to it, and will not let it go. It may wound her, but
she will not release it until it blesses her life. She honors the
obligations of trust, in spite of temptations to pleasure and the
possibility of personal danger. She has compassion, even for her
enemies, and has the courage to confront power in pursuit of justice and
mercy. She persists in the face of injustice, working continually toward
fullness of life.
Holding fast to a sense of the sacred is a key part of the life of a
spiritual adult. Judaism as a religion developed rules covering every
facet of existence in order to remind one to recollect God. Life is
dominated by the 613 commandments of the law, so that it is lived as a
constant dialogue with the will of God.
This strategy can lead to immersion in the divine but it can also cause
painful problems. The might of the nation is a blessing from God;
national disaster is a punishment from God. Likewise, on a personal
level, health is a blessing, sickness is a punishment from God.
Prosperity is a blessing, but poverty comes from sin. The answer to
every disaster is to follow the rules more strictly. Only the perfectly
obedient can be close to God. Since most people cannot be perfectly
obedient, most people feel alienated from God. The focus of life shifts
to rules rather than the religious experience behind the rules. A life
lived by the rules is frequently not an adult life of free choice based
on personal values, but the perpetuation of a child’s life under
To be completed – What Jesus did to solve these problems.
There are other secrets about the Garden of Eden. After the disobedience
of Adam and Eve God expels them from the Garden. Saying, “...now lest he
put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live
forever,” he guards the way to the tree of life by placing cherubim and
a flaming sword in the east of the Garden. But the Garden is not sealed
forever. Jesus offers us eternal life, the fruit of the tree of life.
The last chapter of the last book of the Bible reads, “Then he showed me
the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the
throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the
city; also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve
kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the
tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2) Eden has become
the New Jerusalem, the city of God, come down from heaven. The river
that flowed from Eden (Gen 2:10) has become the river of the water of
life that flows from the throne of God. The two trees in the midst of
the Garden are now each a tree of life, standing one on each side of the
river of life.
To be completed – The Way of the Angel. To pass by the cherubim and the
flaming sword, become an angel yourself, not a human being. Jesus and
the ancient Jewish Merkabah mysticism.