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God is Waiting for you in the Garden

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  • Daniel N. Washburn
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2008
      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!

      Dan

      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
      without.

      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
      fragmented reality.

      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
      everyday existence.

      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
      of life.

      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
      his life.

      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
      parental authority.

      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.
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