Fundamental to the Genesis narrative are ‘two’ trees: the tree of life that was barred to the first couple after that initial fall (hence immortality of the soul has a major uphill battle ever since to get any traction from then on, and never makes it into biblical theology – phew for that!) and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the eventual ‘tree’ that Jesus is nailed to (‘they do not know what they are doing’). However, due to the generoisty of God they were allowed to eat of all the trees of the garden except that one that was off-limits.
Fast-forward and keep on going to the end of the story and we come to Rev. 22:2
On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ξύλον ζωῆς ποιοῦν καρποὺς δώδεκα, κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον – yes a little bit of strange letters… but more than strange letters… ‘a tree of life’ (no definite article, though it might be implied, for the moment let me suggest ‘a’) maybe one tree on both sides, maybe two trees, maybe a tree here and there and over there all around the river… really hard to envision and to translate, but I like the idea that all trees have become a / the tree of life… now where would that go?
Trees – God’s gracious creation – that which appeals to the eye and gives good fruit (trees being the first explicit reference to ‘aesthetic’ goodness); trees that represent people (‘I see people as trees’)… maybe trees then representing all that is good in creation, all that is mutually beneficial relationally, when connected with becomes a source of LIFE, true life for one and all.
There might have been two trees by way of contrast in the Garden, but the purpose of eating of all the trees was that in so doing life would be received and enhanced from any tree that was eaten from.
The New Jerusalem does not destroy creation, but brings it all to a new level. Maybe there are only trees of life in the NJ. And Paul says when we are in Christ already there is new creation. Every tree that was good to look at and had fruit that was healthy was to be eaten. In Christ transforms everything. The ordinary becomes sacred. The future is now; no need to look for the sacred, find a tree, and the tree that looks good to the eyes that see ‘new creation’ will become a source of and an enhancement of life.