From the desk of Pastor Eric Hauan
To the Family of St. Mark’s,
I recently did a devotion in the sanctuary for our preschool children concerning the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. I read the children a book that I had not read in a long time, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this particular book. The book is titled The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It is an older book actually written in 1964, but it has
this simple, tragic, and beautiful story of a relationship between a boy and a tree.
The story starts out with emphasizing how much this tree loved a little boy. It loved the little boy so much that it simply found joy and happiness in giving what it could for the sake of the little boy. The tree gave its leaves for the boy to play in. The boy would climb on its trunk, swing from its branches, eat its apples, and play all sort of games with the tree. When the boy was tired he would rest in its shade. The boy loved the tree and the tree loved the boy!
Now as a reader you are getting all caught up in this lovely and cute little relationship the tree and the boy have together. The tree gives of itself for the sake of the relationship with the little boy solely out of love, and the boy loves the tree for that very reason. It is at this point that the story starts to pass through time much more quickly, as you see the boy growing as time goes by.
The boy begins to mature and pretty soon he has a girlfriend and other things occupying his time, and the tree is left alone waiting for the boy to come back. When the boy did come back it wasn’t out of love or concern for the tree. The boy came back because he needed things that he hoped the tree could give him. The boy said, “I need money,” so the tree gave him all of her apples to sell. The boy said, “I need a house for my wife and children,” so the tree gave the boy all her branches to build a house. The boy said, “I need a boat to go far away from here,” so the tree gave up her trunk to build a boat.
Now as I was reading this story a couple of things went through my mind. The first thing is that kid who became a man is an ungrateful punk who doesn’t appreciate how truly giving the tree is. The second is that the tree’s sole purpose in life is to give and keep giving out of love, even in spite of the love not being reciprocated back. The story ends with the boy as an old man who simply just needed a stump the rest on, because that was all he could do. The tree was still happy to give what it could for boy, and the story ends with them together.
I think the reason I love this story even more today than when I was a child is that I think parenting gives us glimpse of what this tree experiences. I was not nearly as thankful to my own parents growing up as I am now, simply because I am a parent. As a parent you give much more than you receive, as your parents did for you. It is the beautiful expression of unconditional love, even if that is for children who can sometimes be selfish, ungrateful, and preoccupied only with themselves.
Multiply that understanding by how our Father and His Son can at times consider us. If we could catalog the wonderful moments of our lives, every moment, and every experience…what have we done to ever deserve any of it? Sometimes life doesn’t go as we expect. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we get distracted with our lives in comparison to others. Sometimes we lose sight of what a truly Giving God we have.
You want the True Giving Tree, then look no further than the cross. This Thanksgiving truly consider all the blessings you have alone in this life. Consider all the blessings you have experienced throughout your life. Consider that on top of all the blessings given to you by God, that He still gave His Son for you. Our God gives even in spite of our ability to be ungrateful children. Maybe seeing our lives through the giving and loving nature of God will shed some light on how thankful we all should be?
Yours in Christ,