Posted April 27, 2010:
The Tree That Could Not Speak

by Jude Fischer.

Once there was a tree in the forest. He was a very silent tree. The other trees whistled in the wind, whispered their secrets one to another, rustled their leaves in the excitement of each new day. But not this tree.

He remained silent from the day he first pushed his head above the ground. His parents waited with eagerness for his first sound, but it never came. As the other little trees chattered away, he alone remained silent.

"Why are you so quiet?" the other trees asked him over and over. In response he merely wept silently. He didn’t know why. He tried again and again to whistle, to whisper, to rustle with the wind, but nothing happened.

Sometimes his heart would be so full of what he wanted to share with the others, but when he tried, nothing came forth. For he was just a silent tree, no matter how he tried.

As he grew older, he became familiar with death. A few of the trees lived to a ripe old age, and when their energy was spent, they died peacefully. But not many. Most were taken young, cut down in the prime of their life, and used to serve man’s needs.

As Tree matured, he began to worry about that. He saw one after another of his peers go. And he was afraid. For what he longed for most of all in life was to speak, to pour out his heart to his fellow trees. Secretly he hoped beyond all hope that someday, somehow, this would happen.

He didn’t want to die before it did. He didn’t want to die before he had really lived, before he had found his voice. Yet day after day silence remained his companion.

Then one day the woodcutters appeared in the forest again. He saw some of his neighbors felled. Then one woodcutter approached him. He knew it was the end. He wept, bitterly disappointed. His dream would never be realized.

He submitted to the axe and was dragged out of the forest.

The next few days were very confusing. There was pain, lots of pain. He lost all his lovely leaves, and his once graceful form was utterly destroyed as he was cut this way and that. Then came the time when he was set aside in pieces for what seemed a long, long time.

Finally one day a young man picked him up gently and started working with him. Tree quivered with anticipation as he was cut, bent, shaped, glued. Sometimes it hurt, yet he sensed something good in the air, and he let the man do as he would with him.

And little by little he saw himself take another shape, not like the one he had as a tree, but a beautiful one nonetheless. He had never seen anything quite like it. What did the man call it? Yes, a violin; that was it.

The young man picked him up and started to play. Poor Tree wept with joy. For he was hearing his own voice for the first time, the voice he had given up ever hearing. He was speaking, he was singing; yes, he was pouring out his heart in song.

The young man walked with him back into the forest. And he sang to all the trees there. He sang and sang.

Once, alive in that same forest, he had been silent, but now that he was dead he sang songs. And one of the trees bent down and kissed him.

Adapted from Be Always Little, (1996), pp. 31-32, Madonna House Publications.


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