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The Tree Planter

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalms 133:1 ESV

Once upon a time, in a land far away, was a beautiful valley. Lush vegetation covered its gentle slopes, and the stream that ran through it sang a happy song. But alas, all was not well in the valley, for it had no trees. As a result, a general air of sadness rested in the sweetflag blossoms and an unspoken gloom caused butterfly wings to droop. Birds came to feast on the seeds of the wildflowers, but none stayed to build nests and raise their young. Travelers stopped to drink from the brook, but none built homes for lack of shade. And then, one day, the Tree Planter arrived. As he sat on a rock overlooking the green valley he began to weep. I shall fill this valley with trees, he thought. Picking up his satchel of seeds, he carefully planted trees of many different varieties throughout the valley. Having completed his task, the Tree Planter smiled and continued on his journey.

Weeks turned into months, as the tiny seedlings began to sprout and grow. Within a few short years, all the trees of the valley were strong with limbs and leaves that reached toward heaven. In these early days, each tree embraced the beauty of their fellow sapling, reveling in the diversity they shared. The apple tree considered the pear tree a thing of wonder, fascinated by the shape of its light green fruit. The young oak thought that the bark of the birch was exquisite, often commenting on its color and texture. The maple loved the massive green leaves of the sycamore. The sycamore, in turn, enjoyed the sweet fragrance of the sap that ran down the trunk of the maple. They all celebrated each other’s uniqueness.

And then, one day, a swarm of locusts flew into the valley. Boring into the bark of the trees, they laid their eggs and then flew off to infect other groves. Unnoticed, the eggs hatched and began to poison each tree with a disease call Prejudice. Before too long the trees of the valley began to change. No longer did they value their fellow trees. Where once they rejoiced in their diversity, now those same differences irritated them. In fact, they began to envy and despise one another. The apple tree gossiped about the pear tree, commenting on how ridiculous the shape of its fruit was. The towering oak looked down on the smaller elm, pointing out, for all how would listen, how much taller it was than the elm. The maple became annoyed at the sycamore’s huge crusty leaves. Animosity spread like a canker throughout the grove, and as a result, the trees began to die.

And then one day, the Tree-Planter return to see how his grove of trees fared. Cresting the hill, he could not believe his eyes. All the trees he had planted had turned away from one another and were dying. He began to weep. Do they not understand that their beauty is in their diversity, thought the Tree-Planter? If I had planted the grove with all the same tree, how boring and ugly the valley would have been. And yet, look at it now. It is dying before my eyes. My trees have forgotten they all were planted by the same hand and that their beauty was in the unique design I had given them.

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