There are days here at HLAC where I will tell you a story and attempt to convey an important lesson or biblical truth.
This is not one of those days.
If you’ve been following along for more than a few months, you are well aware that I am NOT a fan of Shel Silverstein’s book The Giving Tree. The following is not an attempt to address what I feel is a warped and self-serving view of God. It’s just me being snarky…
Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree…very much. And the tree was happy.
But time went by. And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play,” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money, I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money, but don’t be fooled into believing that money will make you happy, or that it’s okay to simply take from one who provides for you without any sense of gratitude. Because while I give you these apples as a gift, how you use this gift will speak volumes to me and the rest of the world about your character. And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was hopeful.
But the boy stayed away for a long time…and the tree was disappointed. And then one day the boy came back and the tree was happy to see him and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm. I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
“I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house. What did you do with the money you made from selling the apples? Did you squander that money away on yourself? Did you do anything with that money to help anyone else?…I will take your silence to mean that you did much of the former and none of the latter. Had you given freely to someone else as I have given freely to you, I was prepared to offer my branches to you in order that you might build a house for yourself. But clearly, you have learned nothing about gratitude and are still the selfish little boy that I knew so many years ago. So sorry – you’re on your own.” And the boy was not happy, but the tree had had enough.
And the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree said, “Come, Boy. Come and play.”
I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that can take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“CAN I GIVE YOU A BOAT?!? What have you been doing for the past 60 years? Have you spent your life as a human parasite living off the generosity of others while offering nothing in return? And finally, at the end of your miserable existence when everyone else has refused you, you have the audacity to come here and ask me for a boat? A boat my ASS!”
And the boy hung his head. After all of those years he realized how he had wasted his entire life trying to make himself happy. Thinking the world revolved around him. And he realized what a complete tool he had been. And he hugged the tree and thanked her for all she had done for him. This time he was truly grateful and truly remorseful. And he asked if she would be so kind as to allow him to be buried underneath her so that he could be close to the only one that had ever loved him.
And then he died.