At the top of the hill, in a patch of grass where the warm sun would shine from rise to set, the Maker moved amongst the fibers of the earth, tilling the dirt to the perfect depth to place my infant seed. While the other fauna were showered in water drops, my Maker poured love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control over my leaves. These essences pushed me through the soil towards the heavens. And as I inched closer to the sky, my arms opened wide in worship of my Maker’s presence.
The warm rays of the sun, that grand skyward star, nourished my leaves, but they never satiated my roots the way the Maker’s truths did as He walked by. You have a purpose, His steps said. You are fearfully made, was the lingering feeling caught on the winds that passed by Him and over me. Oh, what a beautiful life I lived, existing as I was intended to be: A green stamp of his intentional majesty.
But on that day, my morning was not spent meditating on His glory. No, that day I felt the opposite of the Maker crawling about my branches. With cold, slow precision, something moved freely about my leaves. You are a pawn, this nauseating voice said aloud. You are my weapon, it whispered as its claws dug into my bark. If the sun was warmth, if the Maker was purpose, this creature was cold. It was darkness. It felt small and yet its presence seemed to block out the sky.
There, locked into my skin, it lingered about for what seemed like eternity. Suddenly, I felt it. A pluck. A part of me had been taken. For what purpose I don’t know, but it was not taken by the Maker because He had no need. I was never intended to feed Him or any other creation. As He had told me, I was to be an example of His goodness manifest, a symbol of nature when creation lives out its intended purpose. I was not to be eaten from, or enjoyed, or judged, or replanted.
I was the collection of knowledge, and while I remembered the nourishing truths that sunk through the yards of soil down to my roots to help me grow tall and mighty, more words arose–words I had never heard, never said, but somehow knew. They echoed after the others. Love. SELFISHNESS. Joy. DEPRESSION. Peace. DISCORD. Patience. AGITATION. Kindness. MALICE. Goodness. WICKEDNESS. Faithfulness. INFIDELITY. Self-Control. CHAOS. Someone, or something, had stolen more than my fruit, they had stolen my sanity. The Maker’s words blurred together with these…whose words were these? And why did they make me feel starved? Distant? Empty?
The claws of darkness dug deeper into my flesh. What…what was this? I thought, This horrible feeling…like I didn’t know what I was. I no longer knew how to grow fruit, to reach for the sun, to expand my roots, how to feel my Maker. My branches went numb. They began to shrivel. My roots suffocated and began to shrink. The dirt, once my lungs, had collapsed. I was suffocating. My leaves began to lose their emerald green color, turning into brown strips that I felt, one by one, let go of me and fall.
But it wasn’t just my old guardian, the dirt inflicting pain. Now the sun, it hurt. My skin crisped as its rays bared down on my now naked body. I was thirsty. So, so thirsty. Where was enough water to quench my roots? To fill my branches? To return the royal shine to my leaves?
I began to lose consciousness. Disoriented, I tried to call my Maker, but I couldn’t. Then He came, rolling like thunder, and ripped the creature from my bark. I do not know who he was speaking to, but I heard a word I didn’t know–death.
My being dwindled more and more by the second, until I felt my roots cease their search for nourishment. They didn’t move. They stayed still as their grip on the earth slipped. The air rushed against my flesh as I fell on my side. My branches snapped to pieces and I layed in agony against something else cold and dark, but it was not the creature from before. No, I could smell the earth. I had crashed into the ground. It was so harsh and lifeless. All that was happening, it was unnatural, all wrong. It was not supposed to be like this. I was not supposed to be like this.
The Maker. Where was He? Why wasn't he with me? Did I not matter to Him? Was I no longer of worth without my fruit?
No, my little sapling, He said gently.
His fingers reached through my shattered branches and scorched bark, pulling me from what I could now see was a shell. My shell. Safe in His hands, my roots began to spread around His wide palms and I felt connected to Him again. I was me. I was a tree meant to be loved and bear good fruit.
Finally, I could speak. “Maker, what happened?”
My beloved Adam and Eve have chosen death, He said.
“What is death?” I asked.
The tainting of holiness. The exchange of truth for lies. The undoing of the way things were meant to be.
“Have I…have I experienced this death?” I asked.
The Maker shook His head. You are different, little sapling. You were planted from my creativity. The humans, they were crafted of my image. You were intended to reflect my intentions, my love of purpose. They were intended to share in practicing my purpose, but instead they exchanged mine for their own. Now, death is what they received from their exchange and they are no longer allowed in our Garden.
“Can…can I return to the Garden?”
The Maker cupped His hands around me. His love was deeper in this moment. Deeper and fuller than I had ever felt. My little sapling, who you were intended to be, can no longer live in the Garden or on the earth. For now, it has a different ruler, one who hates who you are and what you were meant to be.
I began to tremble. “If I can’t go back to the earth, then where can I go? Is there any place for me? Where can I be what you fully intended?”
The Maker smiled. You will join me in the heavenly places, where death has no power and the ruler of the earth will never shroud your heart.
And so, we began to ascend and I could see. Every mile, every league, every dimension we passed through. In a blink we arrived in a place even more beautiful than the land before. The air was filled with love. The waters were pure and peaceful. The ground was colorful and whole.
Just as He had on the day of my birth, the Maker began to plant me in the new land and I returned to my fullness. As the Maker sat with me while I grew, I thought about those creatures, the humans.
“This land is so beautiful. Will the other creations, the humans…will they ever find their way here?”
The Maker smiled and ruffled my leaves. Some will, yes. Others will again choose death.
“And how will they make it here?”
I will walk the path, a new voice said.
Another joined us, one who felt like the Maker in presence but appeared like a creature I had never seen.
There will be a day where I will live among the humans and show them the way back to what was supposed to be.
“But how?” I asked. “What can you do to defeat something so vile?”
Love, The Voice and the Maker said in unison.
At the time I didn’t understand, until the Voice one day disappeared, and for many days and nights he was gone. A few moments the Maker let me see him on the earth–under a blinding star, on a mountain , crossing a sea–and the last time we saw him, all of heaven wept as we heard his deafening cry split eternity in two.
Then, he returned. But this time, he was not alone. As he stepped into the Maker’s land, our eternal plain erupted with celebration as humans of all kinds, just as he and the Maker had promised, joined us.
The ones smaller than the Voice especially loved coming to me. On days like today, as they climb through my branches, I feel their love, their joy, their peace, their patience, their kindness, their goodness, their faithfulness, and their self-control. Their constant celebration brings me back to the days of my youth. I don’t miss the Garden because here, day or night, playing or sleeping, we share in the Holy presence of the Maker. Our hands and branches raised high, we never cease praising Him in His home where we are what He always intended us to be.