The Broken Tree

R.B. Moller

Copyright © 2022 R.B. Moller

High on a hill nestled between a tall fence and a rock wall grew a young oak tree. Shielded from the wind, the Master Gardener gave the small tree the ideal conditions to grow. He secured a straight iron rod to the sapling’s trunk and tended it with great care. Sunlight and water were a plenty, every care provided…

The young tree wanted nothing more than to grow. Because of this grand desire, he stretched towards the sky, reaching with all his might towards the beckoning sun. When the rains came, he drove his roots in deep, soaking in the life-giving nourishment.

And so… he grew. He grew and grew. Until the tree’s young branches sagged under their own weight.

Others admired the young tree—his new beauty and growth. “What a beautiful tree, what wonderful growth,” they said. The tree loved this praise, his fresh leaves, and increased stature. Everything felt good, everything felt right.

One day the Gardener came and saw the young trees sagging branches. Concern filled his eyes. As the Master neared with clippers intent to trim. The small sapling drew back its branches, shaking them at the Gardener and his shears. Pausing, the Master placed his hand on the tree’s trunk as a lone tear rolled down his cheek. The Gardener nodded and turned, walking away with heavy steps.

The tree didn’t understand why the Gardener was sad nor why he would want to trim his beautiful branches. After all… was he not becoming taller and more beautiful?

Why would he think to cut me down? The tree wondered.

As time passed, the young oak compared himself to the other young trees in the garden. All were beautiful, but none as tall and magnificent as himself.

Why are they not growing like me? The tree questioned. Have we not all the same light and water?

One day, high on the hill, the gardener brought a new tree into the garden. It was young and small, having no leaves, with only bare roots and a few branches.

What a poor ugly tree, the oak thought. It cannot even grow a leaf—poor tree… poor branches.

The master planted the new tree with the same love and care shown to all the trees in the garden, yet this tree was in the wind while the young oak grew protected and safe in the garden.

The oak watched this new arrival with despise. “Why will it not grow? Look at me. I am magnificent and beautiful. I reach towards the sun.”

More time passed and the poor sick tree still had no leaves…

Why will he not reach? The beautiful tree thought.

All the while, the gardener continued watering and caring for the outcast tree. Still, no leaves—still no branches…

Then one night the Gardener came and cut off many of the sickly little tree’s branches, thinned out its buds and stripped it down to a few—bare—branches.

The beautiful oak sapling watched with dismay. Does the Master not know that this poor tree has everything it needs? Why is He cutting off what little it has? Look at me, I am growing and I need no trimming.

An older tree nearby scoffed. “You talk about your growth, but your branches are sagging. They cannot even support their own weight. You’re growing too fast, yet you will not let the Master prune.”

The young oak tree was angry.

What does he know? Does not that old tree understand? Why do I need to be pruned when I am growing so well? The oak sapling thought. I have plenty of time before winter to shed my leaves. What difference does it make that my branches sag? I will enjoy the Sun and the beauty of Spring, the tree thought as it let go of the rod supporting its trunk. Now I will grow free, nothing will hold me down.

Then one night the air became frigid, so cold it snowed. The young oak tree shivered under its bite as the snow and ice collected on its new growth and full branches. Unable to support the weight—the tree bowed to the earth. Under the brittleness of the ice, its small trunk snapped, as the oak’s top half and all its beautiful branches fell to the ground.

The next morning the Gardener came, his eyes filled with sorrow. He shook his head and sighed, placing his hand lovingly on the fallen tree laying upon the ground. With saw in hand, he cut off the brokenness of the remaining trunk, leaving nothing but a stick protruding from the ground.

The tree anguished. “Where are all my leaves and beautiful branches? I was tall. I was strong. I was magnificent. Now—I am nothing…”

Over time, the young sapling noticed the small sick tree on the hill once more. It had sprouted beautiful leaves and new branches. The oak tree wanted to hide. “I am no longer a tree but a worthless stick,” he scolded himself. “Why did I grow beyond my ability to stand? Why did I let go of the metal rod supporting my trunk? It alone would have saved me.”

Yet still—the Gardener kept watering and caring for the broken tree. “Why does he care for me?” The tree questioned. “I am not beautiful. I am no longer a tree.”

 The oak watched and as time passed and the once small sickly tree high on the hill flourished into a beautiful apple tree with green leaves and branches laden with fruit. Yet, despite its beauty and grandeur, the tree allowed the Gardener to prune.

The broken oak admired this tree, and its willingness to submit to the Gardener’s blade. “Why does he let the Gardener trim his branches? Is he not grateful to keep them when they have taken so long to grow?” He questioned.

With time and nourishment from its roots and the strength of the Sun and water, the young oak sprouted new branches. As these new branches grew, the Gardener came. This time, the young oak did not shrink from his clippers as he had once done, allowing the Master to trim his new growth. Though the broken tree did not understand why, he trusted the Gardener to help him become the beautiful tree he once was.

Time passed, and years came and went. The oak grew—and he grew, becoming much stronger and beautiful than before, again reaching towards the warmth and light of the sun. The oak basked in the sunlight’s warmth, fluttering his leaves in the gentle breeze high above the rock wall and fence that had once shielding him from the wind.

He reached his strong, tall branches towards the Gardener—and with gratitude sighed as the Master carefully trimmed.

Copyright © 2022 R.B. Moller

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