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About the Tree of Life Card

tree of life
This card was originally created as a Christmas card after the terrorist attacks in the fall of 2001. This is the essay I sent to my supporters along the card that December:

I am not a person who cries easily. But when I meditate on this text and its origins in Ezekiel 47 and Genesis 3, tears almost always come to my eyes.

The tree of Life is both a symbol of loss and one of hope in the Scriptures. Adam and Eve were barred from the tree after they rebelled in the original garden of eden. We live with the results of their choice every day. You don’t need me to tell you about misery: the newspapers and our lives are full of sorrows we have inherited and created. At Chrismas time the sadness is almost palpable. So many people suffer; so much is broken.

Still. the Scriptures are full of hope— and it is not the flimsy superficial kind we are used to. It’s not the kind of hope that says “we’re pulling for you— hope it all works out.” No, real Christian hope is solid. It is based on facts documented in the Scriptures: God has been working in our history since the beginning of time. God sent His only Son to fix what we have broken. God sends His Spirit into the lives of believers as a down payment until He is finished redeeming His creation. We know by evidence and by experience that He works in our lives and that He keeps His promises.

So when I read about the “the river of the water of life” in Revelation 22, I know what it’s talking about. This is the same river found in Ezekiel 47. In Ezekiel 47, the water is flowing in a stream from the temple (the dwelling place of God). As Ezekiel follows the stream, he finds that it keeps getting deeper. At first the stream comes up to his ankles, then his knees, then his hips, then it is over his head. Everywhere the stream flows, it brings life. It nourishes the trees and makes them fruitful, but in a special way. The leaves have the power to heal our wounds, not only our personal wounds, but the wounds of the nations, Even now.

The Scriptures reverberate with hope that one day we will see a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be peace at last. Because Jesus is the Lamb of God, we who look to Him will find that our lives are not meaningless. Everything we do matters. Our past will not be erased—it will be healed. We will live forever—not as broken people but as redeemed ones. We are promised that it will be better than anything we can imagine. This is Christian hope, and this is why I make art.