The Giving Tree

Sheldon Silverstein wrote a beautiful children’s picture book, The Giving Tree. It is the story of love between a boy and his friend, the tree. It is both a reminder and lesson for great leaders in the joy, value and richness of selfless giving and the “giving” and “taking’ nature of life. Here is a brief summary.

In his childhood the boy spent much time with the tree gathering leaves, eating apples, sleeping it its shade. The boy loved the tree. As the boy grew older, he spent less time with the tree. His needs changed. He wanted money which the tree couldn’t give him. The tree offered her apples to bring to the city and sell. The boy gathered them and sold them and the tree was happy. The boy went away for a long time and came back saying that he wanted to get married and build a house. The tree offered him her branches. The boy took them away. And the tree was left without branches. But the tree was happy.

There was, again, a long time that the boy did not return. The boy came back and the tree was very happy. Come and play, said the tree. The boy said: “I am too old and sad to play… life is not fun. I want a boat that will take me far away from here.”  The tree said she did not have a boat, but offered her trunk that he might build a boat. The boy did, and the tree was happy. Years later the boy returned, an old man, and the tree said: I am sorry boy but I have nothing left to give you. My apples are gone, my branches are gone, even my trunk is gone. I have nothing left to give as I am an old stump with nothing left to give you. And the tree offered the boy a stump on which to rest. And the boy did, and the tree was happy.

The story’s beautiful theme of selfless giving is exquisitely intertwined with the joy of happiness which results from the love and caring of the giving tree. We can find also that the happiness of this love and caring is also the source of a selfless giving. It is a joyous, beautiful and inextricable complementing of both. Denzel Washington tells us: “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” May we also remember the gentle counsel of Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” May you give it away with happiness, caring and love that lights and enlivens the lives of those you touch and serve.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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1 Response to The Giving Tree

  1. Joshua Furer says:

    Wow! Reading that enlightened my morning. I just came back from a week long service trip with my youth group. We go to soup kitchens, food pantries, and we help aid Catholic parishes and schools who cannot afford to have a sufficient staff. This passage reminded me about the theme, “The Ripple Effect”. Imagine that you are at a still pond. If you attempted to throw the biggest rock you can pick up, after a lot of time and effort, you would create a large ripple that would shake the water around it. However, if you took time in finding the perfect pebble and skipped it accordingly, the small ripples would affect a larger amount of the pond than the large rock did. Throughout my experience in my youth group, I have seen many people who tried throwing that large rock, be it raising a bunch of money for a specific site or trying to fix an entire situation with the odds against them. Many of them don’t even get to throw the large rock. It’s the people who care about the little things such as holding a door for somebody, or picking up a wallet when somebody across the street dropped it who make big differences. A lot of times, we cannot even see the small ripples that we create. When you simply invite a friend to come along with you on a service trip, that friend will also hold a door for somebody or invite his or her friends, creating many small ripples by passing on the favor. Being a child of God, we are all called to help one another. Through looking for the opportunity to help, be them random, spontaneously kind deeds or large favors, passing on the favor goes a long way unseen.

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