“There once was a tree with branches spreading up the sky. When it would flower, butterflies of all shapes, colors and sizes would come and dance around it. When it bore fruit, birds from faraway lands would come to it. The branches were outstretched arms in the wind, it all looked so beautiful. And a small boy used to come and play under it every day, and the big tree fell in love with the boy. Its branches were high but it bent them and bowed them down so that he could pluck its flowers and pick its fruits. So the playful child comes and the tree bows its branches. When the child plucked flowers the tree felt immensely pleased and its entire being filled with the joy of love. And the boy grew. Sometimes he slept on the tree’s lap, sometimes he ate its fruits and sometimes he wore a crown of the tree’s flowers and acted like a jungle king. To see the boy wearing a crown of flowers and dancing around filled the tree with happiness. It nodded in love, it sang in the breeze. The boy grew even more. He begun to climb the tree to swing on its branches. The tree felt very happy when the boy sat on its branches. But with the passage of time the burden of other duties came to the boy. Ambitions came in so the boy did not come regularly. Still, the tree would wait for him to come. It called from its soul: “Come, come. I am waiting for you.”, as love is an awaiting. But the boy did not come. And the tree felt sad, because love has only one sadness: when it cannot share; love is sad when it cannot give.
The boy grew even more and the days of its coming to the tree became even fewer. One day, as he was passing by, the tree whispered: “Come. I am waiting for you every day…” And the boy answered: “What do you have that I should come to you? What do you have to offer that should make me come to you? I can come only if there is something you can give me.” The tree said: “Will you only come if I give you something? I can give you all I have!” The boy said: “I want to be rich. I need money.” The tree thought deeply and said: “Do one thing. Pick all my fruits and sell them. You can get money this way.” The boy brightened. He climbed up and picked all the fruits of the tree, even the unripe ones were shaken down. The branches broke, leaves fell off. But the tree felt very happy, overjoyed. Getting broken did not diminish the tree’s love. And the boy left without even looking back. But the tree did not take note of that. It had received joy when the boy accepted the offering of its love: to pick and sell the fruits. The boy did not return for a long time. Now he had money and he was busy trying to make more money from that money. He had forgotten all about the tree.
Years passed. The tree was sad. It yearned for the boy’s return like a mother whose breasts are filled with milk but whose child is lost. Her whole being craves her child, longs to find her child so he can lighten her. Such was the inner cry of that tree. After many years, now as an adult, the boy came to the tree. The tree said: “Come to me, come and embrace me!” But the man said: “Stop that nonsense. That was a childhood thing.” The tree still invited him: “Come, swing on my branches. Come dance with me.” The man replied: “Stop all this useless talk! I want to build a house. Are you able to give me a house?” The tree exclaimed: “I live without a house… We do not live in houses… But you can do one thing, you can cut and take away my branches – then you will be able to build a house.” Without wasting any time, the man brought an axe and cut all the branches from the tree. Now the tree was nothing more but a bare trunk. But it was happy. Love is happy even if its limbs are severed for the loved one. Love is giving, love is ever ready to share.
The man built his house and the days passed into years. The trunk waited and waited. It wanted to call out for him, but it had neither branches nor leaves to give it a voice. And still its soul resounded with one call only: “Come. Come, my beloved. Come.”
A long time passed and the man became old. Once, as he was passing by, he stood by the tree. The tree asked: “What else can I do for you? I’d be happy to give you whatever you need.” The old man said: “What can you do for me? I want to go to distant lands to earn more money. I need a boat, to travel.” Happily, the tree said: “Cut my trunk and make a boat from it. I would be veey happy to become your boat and help you go to faraway lands. But please remember to take care for yourself. And come back. I will always be waiting for your return.” The man brought a saw, cut down the trunk, made a boat and sailed away. Now the tree was a small stump.
And after a long time the boy came back again. The tree said: “I am sorry, boy, but I have nothing left to give you… My apples are gone.” “My teeth are too weak for apples”, said the man. “My branches are gone”, said the tree, “now you cannot swing on them…” “I am too old to swing on branches,” replied the man. “My trunk is gone, you cannot climb it…” “I am too tired to climb.” “I am sorry…”, sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry….” “I don’t need very much now,” said the old man. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.” “Well,” said the tree, straightening itself up as much as it could, well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting! Come, boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” So the man did. And the tree was very happy.”
(“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein)