In Genesis 3:24 we read:
"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
The first thing I would like to do is point out a few distinctions. It reads "cherubims and a flaming sword" not "with" a flaming sword. This is important. It is also important to note that the flaming sword turns "every way."
Another important distinction to make is that it says "to keep the way of the tree of life" not "the way to the tree of life." Again, very important if we are going to understand this doctrine.
Lastly, let's make the distinction about the word "keep." This does not say "block," it says "keep." They are not placed to guard and block, but to guard and keep. They are the keepers of this doctrine that is the way of the tree of life. This, too, is vitally important in order to understanding this doctrine.
Let's talk about the cherubim. What are cherubim? Angels? What kind of angels? Their form is only described by Ezekiel in his vision in chapter 1. Other than that, we don't really know what they look like and I get the sense that in Ezekiel, the Cherubim having different faces, they are representative of their ability to take on different roles, depending on what they are needed to do. But it is clear that they are gate keepers, if you will. They are placed in all the places where specific permission is needed in order to enter in or to partake or to become part.
So these special mission angels protect and keep the way of the tree of life.
What is the way of the tree of life? It is the tree of...life. Life, meaning the summation of all of our experiences in existence. The tree of life is you, is me. In Hebrew, there is a layer of meaning in the letters that is called the sefirot - which in English literally means "the tree of life." This image shows you how it looks - and these overlay on the human body.
So if we see and understand that I, in my body, am the tree of life - this whole thing begins to shift. The cherubim and the flaming sword which turns every way are the key to understanding the tree of life as the body.
Imagine yourself a living tree. You have branches which grow and flourish. You have leaves that come and go. You occasionally need to be pruned in order to grow in the proper way that will be of most benefit and allow you to yield the most fruit.
Think of those leaves, each individual leaf, as an experience in your life. When the Atonement of Jesus Christ is used in it's proper way, these experiences are no longer good or bad, but are just experience. When we truly understand the power and purpose and very real, active, living, vibrant use of the Atonement of Christ, we shift from the tree of knowledge of good and evil to the tree of life. This way of seeing allows a person to truly grow. We learn to rejoice in the Atonement and in the perfecting power of Jesus Christ and the Grace with which He endows us.
All of your leaves on your tree are meant for one purpose - to nourish and strengthen the tree. All - every single one - of your life experiences in every moment of your life are meant to nourish and strengthen you.
Imagine a leaf on a tree. It is a very symbiotic relationship. The leaves use photosynthesis to nourish the tree. The tree brings nutrients and moisture to the leave. If you are this tree, and the leaves are your experiences in life, you will begin to shift and understand the symbiotic relationship you can and may have with each moment of your day.
When a leaf has finished its work, it dies. Most leaves easily fall to the ground and begin to decompose, providing the tree with the nutrients it needs for the years to come. When a leaf is particularly stubborn (i.e. we have a hard time letting go of an experience and do not wish to let life change) then the winds which come in the fall will encourage that leaf to let go and continue its true intended course. If we hold on to that leaf, it begins to decompose on the twig. Then the twig becomes infected and will begin to decompose - even though the tree is still sending nourishment to that area, even though the sun is still shining, the tree begins to die there. If it is not caught and remedied, eventually it can spread through the entire tree and the trunk, itself will die.
This begins to teach us and show us just how vital it is to let go of our experiences when it is time and to stop holding onto things which have passed their usefulness to our progression.
When we let the experiences go (even though we may feel we are losing something by letting it go) those leaves fall to the ground and decompose and nourish the tree in ways that could not have been known before. The very leaf I desired to hold onto and to keep has become the nutrients in my life from which I will have the strength to grow and produce many, many more leaves. Each leaf becomes the creator of hundreds of future leaves, when it is used in its proper way.
Do you see the beauty of the natural flow of things? We cling and we crave and we resist change. But those changes are the wind which allows us to let those leaves fall and go into the soil and nurture us in a more profound and deep and real way.
Now let's talk about the seasons of your tree. In the spring we have buds and blossoms - new ideas and new thoughts and new experiences coming forth. In the summer we begin to see those things grow - our experiences are beginning to set new patterns, new ways of thinking, new interactions with ourselves and others. Then in the fall of those experiences, we let the leaves go, we harvest the fruit, we enjoy the beauty of those experiences as we see all the brilliant colors and beauty those leaves have brought into our lives. In the winter is our quiet time. We ponder, we digest those experiences. The leaves decompose in our soil, allowing us to really take in all that the experiences have given to us. The leaves nurture us in a way nothing else can.
The fruit which stays on the ground in the fall becomes the promise of new life for the spring. These pieces of fruit which each house a truth-seed inside of them all become part of our beautiful, growing, flourishing, self-sustaining garden. They eventually become trees as well.
We go through this cycle in mini each day, with seasons of the year, and on a large scale throughout our lives. I love that each day has all four seasons in it. We wake up and our day begins with ideas and thoughts of what to do that day and how to go about doing it (spring). We get to work and accomplish (summer). Then in the evening we look back over our day and assess. We return and report to the Father how we did with the instructions we were given that morning. We enjoy the beauty of our day, prune back where needed, and settle in for rest (fall). Then we sleep. As we go to sleep we observe our tree of life, our body, and we thank it for the accomplishments of the day, for the lessons learned, for the truths received. We go to sleep with gratitude for the day and for our bodies in how well they have allowed us to do all we have done that day. We rest and our body takes in the nutrients both physically and spiritually, which we have given to it through our seasons that day (winter). And we prepare for the new spring.
Do you see the garden of your life in this? And all of it, all of the growing, living, vibrant truth within you is traced back to that original tree - to the tree of life. This is Isaiah's promise that Lebanon shall be a fruitful field and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest. Isn't it beautiful?! Do you see how much all truth is circumscribed into one great whole? It just makes my heart thrill. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, refer to my blogpost on Isaiah 29 - Part 2.)
Now it's your turn to discover. We know that the tree of life is the Love of God. So if ourselves and our bodies are also the tree of life, what correlation can we bring here? What is true here? A plus B must equal C. What is C? What does this say about me and about my body if it is also the Love of God?
I'm not going to share with you my answers which have come from pondering this. I really, truly, deeply hope you will share your thoughts. Please leave a comment or send me an email or whatever. But I would like your thoughts on what truths we can gain from adding these two truths together. There are many. And eventually I will also share what truths I've learned and am still learning. But I don't want to take away from myself the opportunity to see more from others' perspectives. So please do share. For real. It would mean so much.
In my next blog post, I'm going to talk about the cherubim and the flaming sword. Again, I'll do my best to give understanding of the natural man as quickly as possible, but this background really is essential in order to understand the significance and the true gift that our natural man is to each of us.