One of the joys of parenting is the passing on of childhood gems to the next generation. This process often brings about deeper appreciation due to your now-adult perspective. For me, one such gem was The Tale of Three Trees as told by Angela Hunt, which was gifted to my son for his first birthday.
The tale begins with the hopes and aspirations of three young trees as they stand together growing on a mountaintop. After they are chopped down we see the unfolding of what they went on to be.
Though the first tree dreamt of being a treasure chest, it became a manger; though the second tree dreamt of being a strong sailing ship, it became a fishing boat; and though the third tree dreamt of becoming the tallest tree in the world, which would shoot up and point to God, it was cut up and left as beams in a lumberyard.
What comes next is a fulfilment of the three trees’ dreams, but not in the way they were expecting.
The manger cradles the baby Jesus, the fishing boat carried the sleeping Jesus and witnesses him calm the stormy sea, and the strong beams are used to hang the crucified Jesus, where he was ‘lifted up from the earth’ and drew all men to himself (John 12:32).
Prior to them reaching these points there was a time of waiting as there always is. ‘Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams’, Hunt writes. Upon first reading, this line struck me deeply.
You don’t have to be too old to realise the dreams of your youth aren’t always fulfilled, and those that are, are often only in part.
But something I try hard to believe and live by is the truth that by emptying myself to the will of God, I am not settling for a lesser plan but rather seeing my destiny fulfilled completely. As the 13th Century Franciscan poet, Jacopone da Todi, wrote:
The base of this highest of peaks is founded on nichilThe Lauds, Volume 10
Shaped nothingness, made one with the Lord
Whilst I hope to live this reality one day, I know the first key is acknowledging it in hindsight. Much like the third tree, which ‘knew God’s love had changed everything’ and that his plan ‘was better than being the tallest tree in the world.’
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