The “Tree of Life” is the final quilt in my series of the seven gifts God gives to the faithful in the Book of Revelation. Jesus says:”To him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of Paradise.” (Rev 2:7).
The tree of life design appears in all cultures and ages; you will find it in Asian and Indian art, Persian carpets, in ancient Egyptian tombs, etc. It symbolises life, fertility, immortality (in that the seed has to die in the ground for the tree to grow). Its branches look like the arteries and veins in the human body, the life blood. The pattern is also the same as the delta of a big river, so the river of life and the tree of life are closely related, the one needs the other. In ancient Egypt, the date palm design symbolised royal power.
In Christianity, the tree of life appears in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Revelation. In Genesis 2:9, it says: “The Tree of Life was in the midst of the garden (of Eden), and also the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” After the Fall, when Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which they were not ready for yet, they had to be turned out of the Garden of Eden, in case they ate from the Tree of Life too, and became immortal. An angel was placed with a flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Gen 3:24).
Well, the whole history of mankind and redemption later, we find the Tree of Life again in the Book of Revelation, beside the River of Life: “with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2).
It is comforting to know that the faithful won’t be forbidden to eat its fruit for ever. It is one of the gifts given to those who overcome and persevere to the end. Also very comforting to know that its leaves will heal the nations, instead of them fighting and hating each other…. The whole situation of the Garden of Eden has been restored, and mankind back in its rightful place, but all on a bigger, more worldwide scale than in the beginning.
I feel a huge sense of relief and thanksgiving when I read this passage. Everything is going to be all right, in the end, after all.
In my quilt of the tree of life, I have used twelve different coloured silks, for the twelve different kinds of fruit. I wanted the design to be simple but striking, and also lively, appealing and colourful, drawing you to it across the room. I wanted it to have the joyfulness of running out into our garden through an orchard, with a deep blue sky and a rising-up sun, like I used to do as a child.
Well, that is the last of my “Rev Sev” quilts, and here is a photo of them all together, as shown at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square at my solo exhibition there.