The Artistic Expression Series is a gallery of artists who are using their work to engage the culture as well as worship God.
I was inspired to write this story after hearing as an adult, all the things my own father did for me, without my knowledge. I was told about the pain a parent feels as a child grows up. I was, of course, oblivious, but now that I have children of my own, I have come to appreciate all the tears and sweat that my father put in to raising me.
I wanted to thank God through the creative abilities He has blessed me with, and I thought it would be special to put this into the form of a bedtime story for children.
My own kids will hear this story now that it is written, but my guess is that most of the readers of The Borough are not younger than 10, and might feel that a bedtime story is not worth the read.
However, I truly hope you’ll find value in it as you consider your own relationship with your parents and how you relate to your children (if you have any).
And if you had a childhood like mine with a loving father, be sure to thank God for it. And if not, look at the different aspects of the metaphor of the big tree and little tree as your own relationship with our Father God.
The Tree in the Meadow
By Nate Morsches
Once upon a time, there lived a tree in a bright, sunny meadow. His bark was strong, and his branches could stand upright against heavy storms. God blessed him with a lot fruit which grew every harvest season and all the animals would come around and eat from the large bounty of apples which fell to the ground.
“Come and eat, my friends,” he would say, “Come and enjoy my shade. Play in my branches. Make your nests up there, too.”
And the animals loved to be with their good friend, the big tree.
One day, a deer was enjoying the sweet apples, and a seed fell from his mouth. It fell onto the ground and was pushed into the soil when the deer walked past, accidentally stepping on it.
It was a very rainy season, so the seed was able to take plenty of water and nutrients from the soil. It germinated through another seed nearby. After it had snowed and snowed, and then stopped snowing, the seed sprouted a tiny little stalk with a tiny little leaf.
And on a very special day, as the big tree looked out over the land, the sun shone so brightly and put one golden ray on the tiny stalk with the tiny leaf.
And when the big tree noticed the sprout, he was so happy. Finally, there was one which would grow up to be just like him. One whose fruit would also take care of the animals long after the big tree was gone.
“You are my most prized possession – one who comes from my own seeds. I will love you forever. I will take care of you. I will help you grow big and strong and show you how to do good to all the animals around. You will be a pillar in this meadow, a great tree on whom everyone can rely for food and shelter.”
So when it rained, the big tree would cup his branches and leaves so that more water would fall on to the sprout. When it was sunny, the big tree would move his branches out of the way so more light could get to the sprout. When the snow came, the big tree would drop his branches on to the ground so that they would block the wind from knocking over the sprout.
And the sprout grew and grew, until one day, the big tree noticed that the sprout wasn’t a sprout anymore. He was a sapling.
“Who are you?” asked the sapling on a cool, brisk morning.
“Oh, little tree. I am the one who loves you and cares for you. I am the big tree. You come from my own seed. I am the one who will show you how to care for this meadow.”
“But why must I care for this meadow? It sounds very difficult. And the animals did not do anything to deserve my help,” spoke the little tree.
And the big tree answered, “Yes, it is hard, but without you and me, these animals would not have food or shelter. They would die without our help.”
But the big tree continued to guide water and sunlight to the sapling until it grew even bigger. It was now 6 feet tall.
“Big tree, why don’t I grow any fruit like you do?” asked the little tree.
“You must be patient. These things take time. You must grow and mature, and your fruit will come. You will get taller and your branches will extend and you will finally be able to care for this meadow.”
“But I want fruit right now. And I do not want those animals to steal it from me.”
“Little tree, please understand. When your fruit comes, you will have more than enough. There will be so many apples that they will fall from your branches no matter how hard you hold on to them. And when they fall, they do you no good if they are not used as food for the animals.”
And the little tree leaned away from the big tree.
But the big tree continued to care for the little tree. The little tree grew and grew. Now his buds started budding. And finally, the little tree felt the tug of a small apple growing from one of his branches.
“Big tree, look over here! I finally have my fruit.”
The big tree said, “That is very good, little tree. Now we can begin caring for the meadow together.”
But the little tree said, “I do not want to share my fruit or my shade or my branches. And I do not want anymore help from you either.”
“But little tree, don’t you understand? You haven’t needed my help for a very long time. You can care for yourself. I only give you water and sunlight now because I love to give you good things.”
“But our roots are intertwined. If you pull them out of the ground, you will destroy many of my roots, too. And if you leave, I will not get to share my life with you. I am so proud of you, little tree, and I love you very much. But if you must go, then you must go.”
And then the little tree leaned away from big tree. And he kept leaning, and leaning. And he pulled his roots right out of the ground.
The big tree gave out a loud groan of pain and the little tree walked away from the meadow.
Big tree said to himself, “I fear that my little tree, the one I love the most, will never return to me, and I will always be here hoping that he is safe.”
Little tree had never seen what was outside of the meadow, but it turned out to be a very dry, and very hot land. It did not rain for days and days and weeks and weeks.
And little tree became very tired and thirsty. His branches were no longer strong and smooth, but they had become brittle and flaky. And when he tried to put his roots into the ground, they would not break through the hard, dusty soil.
His small apple did not grow, but it turned brown and fell to the ground. His buds all broke off, and no more fruit grew from his tree.
He wandered this hot, dry land for a long time. There were no other trees in this land to keep him company.
The animals here were very different from the animals he knew in the meadow. Here, they had spiny scales and sharp teeth. And they laughed at him and said, “Look at that silly tree. He doesn’t know how to put his roots in the ground or how to grow fruit.”
Little tree did not like this hot, dry land. He did not like the animals here. He missed the animals from his home. He missed the meadow.
And he missed the big tree.
He said to himself, “I still have so much to learn from the big tree. He took care of me when I was a sprout and a sapling. He encouraged me to grow strong and to bear fruit. But I did not listen, and I did not remember all the good he gave me.”
He started to run back home to the meadow as fast as he could.
When he arrived he saw that the big tree was in very poor shape. One side of him did not have any leaves or fruit, because his roots were damaged when the little tree ripped them away. And the rest of the big tree was covered with small white dots, because he had caught a disease which made him sick.
“Little tree, is that you I hear?” asked the big tree, “I can no longer see because I am old and sick.”
“Yes, it’s me, big tree. I am so sorry I left. I will put my roots back into the ground and I will take care of you.”
But the big tree said very sadly, “It is too late, little tree, I am dying.”
Then the little tree put his roots back into the ground where they used to be, and his branches started to become strong again.
The little tree leaned toward the big tree.
When it rained, the little tree would cup his branches and leaves so that more water would fall on to the big tree. When it was sunny, the little tree would move his branches out of the way so more light could get to the big tree.
The little tree knew that the snow was coming soon, and he was going to drop his branches on to the ground so that they would block the wind from harming big tree.
But one day, before the snow came, big tree spoke to little tree: “Little tree, you are my most prized possession. You came from my own seed. I will love you forever. But I have become more and more sick. These white dots cover my whole body. I will not be here much longer, and I wanted to tell you that I am so glad you returned. Thank you for caring for me in my last days.”
And little tree replied: “No, big tree, thank you for caring for me when I was a sprout and a sapling. I will grow big and strong and do good to all the animals around. I will be a pillar in this meadow, a great tree on whom everyone can rely for food and shelter. I will do these things because you have shown me how. And as you have loved me, I will also love you forever.”
And then the big tree died.
One day, the little tree noticed a small apple growing from one of his branches. And the next day, two more were growing. And more and more until finally, all of his branches were filled with apples. So many apples grew that they began to fall to the ground.
The little tree noticed that a deer, a squirrel, and a raccoon had walked up to see what all the commotion was.
Then the little tree said with great pride, “Come and eat, my friends. Come and enjoy my shade. Play in my branches. Make your nests up there, too.”
And they did. And the little tree, who wasn’t so little anymore, continued to take care of all the animals in the meadow for a very long time.
Until at last, a golden ray of sun shone down and revealed to him something which had begun growing from the ground: a sprout, with a tiny little stalk and a tiny little leaf.
Also published on Medium.