Why the Tree of Life?

3.04.2007

Tree of Life

If you're reading this, you've made it over to our new blog address. :) Welcome!

Why the change? Well, first and foremost, there is an unschooling group here in town called Learning Without Limits, and I shamelessly stole their name because it is such a great name, and I was completely lacking in creativity when I started our blog (and I was too excited to wait until I found our own name). So, it has weighed heavily on my conscience ever since, and I have known for a long time that I wanted and needed to change the name, but nothing good has been coming to me. (And, if I'm honest, we do have 'limits'). :)

But finally tonight, as I was trying to go to sleep, I suddenly realized that the right name has been staring me in the face for months.

Why the Tree of Life, then? Because this image seems to encapsulate everything I have come to understand about God and Life and our place in it all; the very essence of why we are homeschooling.

Several months ago, during a local homeschooling support group meeting, one of the other moms mentioned hearing a story/meditation about the Garden of Eden that really spoke to her as a mother, particularly as a homeschooling mother. She has a more literal interpretation of the Bible, so I took away what really spoke to me from her story and left the rest.

The meditation runs like this: The Garden of Eden is everything that our life can be: Simple Abundance. And in this garden; in our life every day, there are two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life.

Every day, we make a choice between the two. God urges us to eat freely from the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is God, is Love, is Joy, Beauty, Truth, Compassion, Understanding... all that is of God. It is there for the asking. It is there for the taking. This tree is about Relationship; our relationship with God and meeting God in others and in all of creation.

The second tree is the strict dichotomy of Good and Evil; in other words, Legalism. Everyday, we can choose to hold fast to the Tree of Life, or we can choose the death and expulsion from the 'Garden' that comes from the letter of the law (Pharisee-ism, Puritanism, Fundamentalism) rather than the Life that comes from the Spirit. Legalism kills communities, and it kills individual spirits, and it produces hate; self-hatred and hatred of others. People lose their humanity and become blind to everything that is of real importance.

To take the metaphor further, Christ's message is the Tree of Life. His message frees us from spiritual death, from the results of choosing from the Tree of Knowledge. Christ's message restores our relationship with God. When we hold fast to the Tree of Life, we are holding fast to Joy and Contentment and Love, to our direct relationship with God. And every day, every moment, we have this choice: which tree will I hold fast to today?

I find it interesting as well that the Tree of Life seems to be pervasive as a spiritual/mythological symbol in many cultures and faiths. Of course, they do not all mean the same thing, but as an image, the Tree of Life is something that really speaks to the human spirit. You may have noticed that I added the Shaker version of the Tree of Life to our blog a while ago. There were so many 'Trees of Life' images to choose from: Hindu, Judaic, Medieval, Islamic, contemporary... But the Shaker version spoke to me the most perhaps because of the Shaker movement's distant roots in the Society of Friends.

So, what does this all have to do with homeschooling? It's about keeping my relationships in the forefront of my mind. These relationships (my children and my husband, primarily, but others as well) are what matter. These relationships are what is Eternal. Our hopes for our children are the hopes that all parents have for their children. I want to raise whole and good human beings in every sense, and the best way I know that I can go about this is to hold fast to our relationships, to look to Life and to allow that Life to work through me by daily asking God for my small portion of grace. This is the only way I will be able to see my children for who they actually are, and not simply how I think or 'Know' them to be. It will keep me from merely marking off some arbitrary checklist of tasks and instead enable me to present learning in a way that lives and breathes and is something to which my children can really connect. This is how I can meet their Real needs, respond to them with empathy and answer 'that of God within them'. It is what will help me to join Heaven with Earth, the Ideal with the Real.

So, that is the meaning behind the new name; something I find very powerful.

Anyway...

We will now return to our regularly scheduled program of pictures for the grandparents (and friends)... (and Enki stuff for the other Enki homeschoolers who read our blog). :)

4 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I came to your blog from the holistic family yahoo group. What a neat story about how you came up with your new name. I, too, aspire to focus on relationships with my children. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  2. Just today, Gem-Sprightly was asking about why there is "bad" in the world, and I was taken back to the Garden and the trees...and struggled with the story as it was told to me as a child. Thank you for this new outlook...and I am going to go back and explore the story more myself so that I can share it in a new light with my family.

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  3. Hi There --

    My husband and I are not quite Quakers, but we do attend meeting for worship pretty regularly here in Austin. We also have two little girls (ages 3 and 4) who I have fantasized about homeschooling since the first one was born. Now I am looking into what exactly this is going to entail and I found your blog in my search. So I thought I'd say hello.

    "Hello" :-)

    My web site is www.ann-marie.com

    -AM

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