Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what
they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked
up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered
with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful
treasure chest in the world!"
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on
it's way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and
carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!"
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men
and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain
top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me,
they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest
tree in the world."
Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew
tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first
woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is
perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be
made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" The first tree said.
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is
strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the
second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the
second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her
way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the
woodcutter looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered.
With a swoop of his shining ax the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a
carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for
animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure.
She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.
The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but
no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree
was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and
too weak to sail to an ocean, or even river; instead she was taken to a
The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong
beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall
tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point
"Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their
dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young
woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a
cradle for him." Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and
smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. "This manger is
beautiful." She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding
the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old
fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly
sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The
little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many
passengers safely through with the wind and the rain. The tired man
awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped
as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was
carrying the king of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beam was
Yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an
angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands
to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun
rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that
God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And
Every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was
better than being the tallest tree in the world.
So next time you feel down because you didn't get what you want, just
sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to
--- The Tale of Three Trees -(A traditional Folktale) Retold by Angela Elwell Hunt
--- Sent in by Laura Kirkley --- Texas
She says: "For generations the tale of three trees has been handed down from
parents to children, retold in churches at Christmas and Easter, and even set
to music and sung. As is often true of folktales, its originator is
unknown, to this person, I am deeply grateful."