The Branding Tree

givingtree3…a very special tree. This tree wasn’t like other trees since no one knew this tree from any other. Stuck in the deep forest in a sea of other similar, often superior trees, this tree was sad and alone. Undifferentiated and positioned ever so poorly in the dead center of the growing forest, the tree had little reason for hope.

And yet hope it had. On the increasingly rare occasions when people visited the forest, the tree put on a brave face and, digging its roots deep as Mother Earth would allow, stood up straight, strong and true as it possibly could. Other trees laughed at the tree as they stood tall without effort but tree cared not. The tree just dug in deeper and deeper and stood taller and taller even as people sat under the shade of other trees and chose their fruit to snack on.

Years before, a little boy had wandered, scared and alone, into the heart of the forest under the light of a full moon. Tears streamed down his scared face but all the other trees turned away for this boy had nothing to offer. He needed no shade or nourishment; what he needed was no forest could provide. But tree, feeling a connection to this poor boy, offered the base of its very normal trunk as a resting place. Though initially cautious, the boy gladly accepted the offer and soon fell asleep, nestled in tree’s warm embrace. The next morning, when a hunting party came across the boy,  the awakened boy seemed reluctant to leave. The tree would never forget that look.

And still tree worked hard. Day after day, tree soaked up sunlight and rain alike, never ceasing to better itself. Tree whispered after every bird that flew near, reached out for squirrels with branches extended and never missed an opportunity to grow its name. Over time, tree began to grow a reputation within the forest for its generous giving and hospitality. The tree grew happy, especially as the other trees tried to mimic what tree did but the intentions were transparent and tree grew even more beloved as it continued to build its name.

Like any good tree, tree knew its value lay not just with what it could offer but with the friendly, good-natured service it provided. And more importantly, even as tree’s branches grew heavy with the activity of many animals and its fruit began to diminish, tree remained happy. The tree knew it belonged to the forest and that by acting accordingly, that it would be happy as long as it added to its environment.

Years later, when tree was in the last stages of its life, tree heard a young girl whistling in the forest. The whistle grew louder as the girl approached and, after standing at the base of tree, she yelled “is this it?” From a short distance away came the quick reply, “I think so.” A man then appeared and, to the delight of tree, it was the young boy from years ago. The man looked at tree and, grinning, told his daughter that this was the place.

As the man sat down with his daughter at the base of aging tree, tree couldn’t help but feel content. The tree knew that many other trees were more comfortable to sit under and were easier to get to but the man hadn’t wanted any tree. The man wanted a tree he trusted. A tree that made him feel secure and happy. A tree that he could share with his daughter. The tree had never been happier…

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