I think this story is so beautiful. The older I get, the more I love it.
A long time ago, three little trees stood on a mountaintop. They dreamed of what they wanted to be when they grew up. The first little tree gazed at the night sky, full of stars above him, and said “Someday, I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered in gold, and filled with beautiful stones and precious gems. I want to be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!” The second little tree looked out from the mountaintop, and saw a little stream winding its way to the ocean. “I want to be a strong sailing ship,” he said. “I want to travel to great places, sail over mighty waters, and carry powerful kings. I want to be the strongest ship in the world!” The third little tree looked at the valley below, full of busy people living busy lives. She took a deep breath, and thought. “I don’t want to leave this mountaintop at all. I want to grow so big and tall, that when people stop and look up at me, they will raise their eyes to Heaven and think of God. I want to be the tallest tree in the world!”
Years passed. Rains came, the sun shone, and the trees grew very tall and strong. One day, three woodcutters climbed up the mountain, looking for some wood.
The first woodcutter looked at the first tree. “This tree is beautiful,” he said. “It is perfect for me.” With a mighty swoop of his axe, the first tree fell. “Now I shall become a beautiful treasure chest,” he thought, hope and joy blossoming in his chest. “I will hold incredible 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 axe, the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters,” he thought, hope and joy blossoming in his chest. “I will be a ship fit for incredible kings!”
The third tree’s heart sank when the last woodcutter looked at her. She stood straight and tall, and pointed bravely to Heaven. The woodcutter didn’t even look up, however. “Any tree will be fine for me,” he muttered. And with a swoop of his axe, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when he was brought to a carpenter’s shop. The carpenter wasn’t thinking about treasure chests, however. His work-worn hands crafted the tree into a feed box for farm animals. The once beautiful tree was neither covered in gold or filled with treasure. Instead, he was coated in sawdust, filled with hay for hungry animals, and placed in a stable. The second tree smiled when the woodcutter brought him to a shipyard. However, no mighty and powerful sailing ships were being made that day. The workers hammered and sawed the tree into a simple fishing boat. Because he was too small and too weak to sail on oceans or even a river, the little tree was taken out on a lake all day. Every day, he brought in nets upon nets of dead, smelly fish. The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into long strong beams, and laid her in a lumberyard. “What happened? All I ever wanted was to stay on that mountaintop and point to God,” the once tall tree thought.
Years went by, and the trees nearly forgot their dreams.
But on one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed a newborn baby in the feed box. Her husband whispered, “I wish I could make a cradle for him.” The mother smiled and squeezed his hand. “This manger is perfect,” she said, as golden sunlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. And suddenly, the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in all the world.
One evening, years later, a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. As the sec0nd tree quietly sailed out onto the lake, the traveler soon fell asleep. Soon, a thundering and ferocious storm sprung up. The little tree shuddered, and became afraid. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely to shore through the wind, waves, and rain. The sleeping traveler awakened, stretching out his hand as he stood up. “Peace,” he said, and the storm stopped as quickly as it had started. And suddenly, the second tree knew he was carrying the most incredible king, the King of Heaven and earth.
Years later, on a Friday morning, the third tree was startled as her beams were pulled from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was pulled through a angry and jeering crowd. She shuddered as soldiers nailed a man’s hands into her beams. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, as the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything.
It had made the first tree beautiful.
It had made the second tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
Ciao for now,
Happy Holidays! Xx
*Story re-wrote in my own words, based on the traditional folktales, re-written by Angela Elwell Hunt