Supposedly the tree of life was a Baobab tree. At least that is what friends of mine said. Then they told me the stories. The Baobab has a special role in Africa. Elephants, monkeys and baboons depend on its fruit (the vitamin C content of one fruit is the equivalent of 4 oranges); bats pollinate them by crashing into the flowers while chasing insects; bush babies also spread the pollen; the pollen can be used as glue; the seeds are rich in protein, calcium, oil and phosphates – they can also be roasted and ground like coffee beans; young leaves have a high calcium content and can be used as spinach; the trunk is fibrous and can be woven into rope mats and paper; beer and tea can be made from the bark, but you need a strong constitution to drink either. Everything about this tree is beneficial to something or someone and we are still learning how the connections can be broken to everyone’s hurt. If elephants don’t show up at the right time and do certain things people will suffer later. If bush babies do’t do their thing at a certain time the elephants suffer. If the bats can’t do their thing the everyone suffers.
I think this is a baobab but I am not totally sure. One of the reasons is that it takes about 800 years for them to get good looking and at certain times of the year they look really bad. They are the kind of thing that you see in the world that make you feel small. The complexity and beauty of God’s creation is remarkable.
The complexity of creation is a good metaphor for our life together. We are interconnected in the body of Christ in such a way that we are meant cover one another’s deficiencies. When we are unwilling to do that our witness suffers. Luther explained the interconnected ness we all have in the Sacrament of the Altar and how we are changed into one another through love. He writes ….
See to it also that you make yourself a fellow of every man and by no means exclude any one in hatred or anger; for this sacrament of fellowship, love and unity cannot tolerate discord and dissension. You must let the infirmities and needs of others burden your heart, as though they were your own, and offer them your strength, as though it were their own, as Christ does for you in the sacrament. That is what we mean by being changed into one another through love, out of many particles becoming one bread and drink, giving up one’s own form and taking one that belongs to all.
That should be the form of our life together until that day we all get to see the original tree of life in an eternal life together.