Once upon a time three little trees planted on a mountain top were dreaming of what they wanted to become when they grew up.
The first tree looked up at the stars and dreamed of being made into a beautiful chest, covered with gold and embellished with jewels; its task would be to contain precious gems. The second tree looked at the river below flowing out to the sea, and dreamed of being made into a strong sailing ship which would cross the oceans carrying important passengers. The third tree looked down at the village, bustling with people leading busy lives with no time for God. It didn’t want to be made into anything. It dreamed only of growing tall on the mountaintop, pointing people towards heaven.
One day a wood cutter came to the three trees, carrying his axe. The first tree was pleased when it was cut down and taken to a carpenter’s workshop. But instead of being crafted into a treasure chest, it was roughly constructed into a feeding trough for animals, covered with dirt and filled with straw. The second tree was delighted when it was taken to a boatyard. But instead of being made into an ocean ship, it became a small fishing boat, docked on a lake. The third tree was sad when it was cut down. All it wanted was to grow tall and point people to God. It was devastated when it was roughly split into beams, chopped into planks, and dumped in a corner of the wood yard. Time passed, and the three trees forgot all about their dreams.
One day, on a golden, starlight night, a young couple came into the stable containing the feeding trough made from the first tree, and said, “This manger will be perfect for our new-born baby.” And the first tree realized it was holding the greatest treasure of all times.
Years later a tired traveler and his friends got into the fishing boat made from the second tree, and when the wind blew and the waves broke over the boat, the traveler stood up and commanded the storm, “Quiet, be still!” and it became perfectly calm. The second tree realized it was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
Finally, one Friday morning, someone came along and picked up the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of the hill. But on Sunday morning, when the Lord rose from the dead, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible because Jesus had been crucified on it.
We all have plans and dreams, but often our lives do not seem to be going the way we would like them to go. It can be very helpful to immerse ourselves in nature and listen to what God has to say to us through his creatures: the wind, the trees, the streams, the birds... In such moments it is possible to understand, just like I did during that trip into the Euganean Hills, that God has something better prepared for us. Our plans might not come to fruition the way we had planned them, but God’s plans will always lead to success if we have the intuition to follow them, for then we will be “like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).