Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him.

"I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship," he said. "I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. "I shall hold wonderful treasure."

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God."

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox. I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful" she said.

And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awaken. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.

And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth!

One Friday morning the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything.

He had made the first tree beautiful.

He had made the second tree strong.

And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. And that was far better than being the tallest tree in the world


Faith in Writing said...


~Trina~ said...

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I've used it in ministry talks and have read it at Christmas and at Easter for years. My adult sons would always look at each other as I read because they knew exactly where I'd tear up. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Tracy, this is stunning! Thanks so much for sharing it today. :-)

Laurie Ann said...

I love this story, Tracy! Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

The first time I heard this story was at my youngest son's graduation. I was boo-hooing already, but when I heard the valedictorian recite this story, I really had tears flowing! Thank you for reminding me of this sweet memory...

Tricia said...

That is so beautiful, thanks so much for sharing!


Just a little something from Judy said...

Last Easter my sister-in-law gave that book to me. It was the first time I had heard of the book and the story blessed my heart. What a precious story for me to read to my grandchildren. Thank you for sharing it, Tracy.

Joyfulsheep said...

Thanks for sharing this. I have loved this story ever since I first heard it.

LisaShaw said...

I wish I could sit down at the table and chat with you as you share. I love you dearly.

LynnSC said...

Oh Tracy... this is one of my favorite books!! Thanks so much for bringing it back to mind. I will have to drag that book out and share it with my children again.

Hope you are doing well!!

Marsha said...

This is one of my FAVORITE books! I'm planning on reading it this Sunday to the children in Kid's Time.

Thank you for sharing it here.

Have a blessed weekend.

Kristi said...

Oh, I remember this one! Thank you so much for sharing it. Easter blessings to you!