Monday, February 25, 2013

The Parable of the Tree

So, I haven't written in a while - I apologize. I'm writing now because I feel like I need to share something with the world, and what it is is this:

"Now, Sarah," you may ask, "Why the random picture of a tree?" I will explain, but let me tell you a story first.

There was a seed, planted in decent soil. It was a fair distance away from other plants, but still a part of the surroundings. It tried its very best to push through the soil to reach the sun. It was hard work! The seed was little, and the ground was thick and literally all-consuming. It often felt discouraged in the darkness. It saw the roots of other plants around it and thought "They are so much better than I am. They are strong. They made it. I wish I could be them. I will never see the sun." Still, everyday it soaked up the water that came trickling through the dirt, and kept pushing. "Why am I planted here?! This is the worst soil. It is hard and clay-like. There are roots everywhere that will choke me out, and I could get eaten by an animal! This is the worst place ever." The water kept coming and the seed kept growing.

One day, the seed finally broke the surface. It felt the warmth of the sun and the cool air blowing by. It had made it! "I did it! Wow, this is amazing! I wish I could've been planted over there, though. Then I could see the river better. That stinks." It kept growing from the water that came sprinkling down from above.

When it was a sapling, it experienced a heavy rainstorm. There was thunder that rattled its tender branches and the rain beat down on its little leaves. The little tree bent in the wind. It felt its roots being pulled against the ground. The sapling thought "Why is this happening to me?! This is so unfair. I am young still - I can't handle this. I shouldn't have to go through this." Eventually the storm subsided, and the sapling shuddered at how close its roots were to the surface. It knew it would take some time to recover from the trauma of the storm. The next morning, however, it found that dirt was mounded up around its base where its roots were weakest. "That's awesome! It must have blown there during the night. I'm so lucky."

A few years later, the sapling had become a young tree. It had a stronger trunk and many branches. It was proud of its height and sturdiness. Suddenly, it noticed a sharp pain coming from one of its branches. It was shocked to discover that the branch had been completely removed! "What is this?! I am perfectly healthy! I shouldn't be feeling this! This is painful! I don't like it! It needs to stop - NOW." Yet, it felt it again. A third time. A fourth. It resented the chopping of branches deeply.

Many years later, it had experienced many rainstorms, blizzards, and prunings. It had seen more beautiful plants than itself grow up around it. There were trees taller than it, and trees stronger than it. It saw plants struggle and die. It had been a home and shelter to countless birds and squirrels. It had seen its fruit be eaten by grateful animals, and also seen it sitting on the ground, going unappreciated. It had grown into what it was created to be.

One morning, an old man with kind eyes approached the tree. The tree noticed this man for the first time. "Hello, my friend," he said with a twinkle in his kind eyes. "Friend? Who is this man?" The old man sighed. "Don't you know me? I've known you a very long time. I planted you exactly where I knew you would do best. I cared for you. When you were struggling to sprout, I watered you. When you were tossed about by rain, I protected you. When you were growing, I pruned you to help you grow stronger. I've guided you on your journey from seed to tree. You have never been alone." The tree listened, stunned. "You are still that seed, but you have become something new. You are a tree - strong and beautiful. You serve others, as you were grown to do. You give, not only demand. You give even when others do not think they need it. I am proud of you and the tree you have grown to be." The gardener patted the trunk of the tree and whispered "I brought you to your potential with my sweat here in the garden. I worked very hard to support you when you needed me. You are very special to me." He stood in silence for a moment before turning and walking back toward his home. The tree looked back on its existence and realized all the times it had felt the hands of the gardener during its most difficult times. It was all true - the gardener had crafted it.

Now, I tell that story because I have been thinking recently about my own life. I have had trials and tests. I have been discouraged, stuck, called names, rejected, alone, and have torn myself down. Still, the hands of the Master Gardener have always been there, guiding, supporting, changing me. I have been pruned - weaknesses have been removed, fears and doubts have been silenced. It wasn't fun or easy, but it has happened. Sometimes, my burdens have been lifted, and other times I have been strengthened so I can bare them better. I have been blessed. I want to express my gratitude for that. I am far from perfect, but I have changed and grown. I hope I will be able to continue to grow into the woman that I am meant to be - a person that makes the Master proud.