The Forever Tree
Once, a long, long time ago, a little tree was growing in the forest. As the little tree grew taller and stronger, she began to notice the wide expanse of sky stretching far above her head. She noticed the white clouds scudding across the sky, as if on some great journey. She watched the birds wheeling overhead. The skies, the clouds, the birds in flight – they all seemed to speak of a land of forever. The more she grew, the more she noticed these forever things, and the more she longed to live forever herself.
One day, the forester happened to pass close by the little tree. He was a kindly old man, and he sensed that the little tree was not entirely happy. ‘What’s the matter, little tree?’ he asked. ‘What troubles your soul?’ The little tree hesitated, and then told the forester about the deep desire in the core of her being: ‘I would so much like to live forever.’ ‘Perhaps you shall,’ replied the forester. ‘Perhaps you shall.’
Some time passed, and once again the forester passed close by the little tree, now grown tall and strong. ‘Do you still want to live forever?’ he asked the tree. ‘Oh, I do, I do,’ the tree replied fervently. ‘I think I can help, but first you must give me your permission to cut you down.’ The tree was aghast: ‘I wanted to live forever. And now you say you are going to kill me?’ ‘I know,’ said the forester. ‘It sounds crazy. But if you can trust me, I promise you that your deepest desire will be fulfilled.’
After much hard thought, the tree gave her consent. The forester came with his sharp-bladed axe. The tree was felled. The sap of life streamed away and was lost in the forest floor. The tender wood was sliced into strips. The strips were planed and shaped and smothered in a suffocating layer of varnish. The tree screamed silently in her anguish, but there was no way back. She surrendered herself to the hands of the violin-maker, all dreams of foreverness vanished in a haze of pain.
For many years, the violin lay idle. Sometimes, she remembered better days, when she was growing in the woods. What a bad bargain it had been, surrendering herself to the forester’s axe. How could she have been so naive as to believe that this would enable her to live forever?
But the day came – the right and perfect moment – when the violin was gently lifted from her case and caressed once more by loving hands. She held her breath in disbelief. She quivered, as the bow tenderly crossed her breast. And the quivering turned into a pure sound that reminded her of how the wind had once rustled through her leaves, how the clouds had once scudded by on their way to forever, how the birds had wheeled overhead, shaping circled of eternity in the blue sky.
A pure sound. Pure notes. The music of Forever. ‘My wood has turned into music!’ the tree gasped, deep inside herself. ‘The forester spoke the truth.’
And the music resounded, from listening heart to listening heart, down through all the ages until at last, when all the listening hearts had made their own journey home, it rolled through the gates of eternity, where the little tree became a Forever Tree.
Story by Margaret Silf
• What are the desires deep down in the core of your being?
• How does the story make you feel?
• What is disturbing for you in the story?
• What is true for you in the story?
(Questions adapted from Megan McKenna)