One way to view the opening scenes of creation in The Tree of Life could be to acknowledge the natural world’s indifference to humanity. A loss of a child occurs and the parents cry out to God for why this pain has entered their lives. God responds by showing them how small they are compared to everything that has come before. The immensity of creation swallows all happiness and sadness, making all things pointless.
On the other hand, this same immensity provides the proper context with which to view everything that happens within the universe. Perhaps the pain that occurs has some mysterious purpose that is inconceivable–much like the creation of all things and the progression of life. We should not become upset or bitter when we encounter sadness because the world screams at us with beauty and splendor, hinting at some unknown glory that we are blinded from in our current state. Hence the saying: “Someday we’ll fall down and we’ll weep and we’ll understand it all. All things.” It reminds me of what Paul says in I Corinthians 13: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
This would be a good time to introduce another important sentence repeated overtly and covertly throughout the film. It is said by the mother (played by Jessica Chastain). “There are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace.”
Depending on which way you lean–toward nature or toward grace–will determine whether you see the creator as loving or indifferent. This is what I’ll focus on in part 3.