THE USELESS TREE

A carpenter and his apprentice were walking together through a large forest. And when they came across a tall, huge, gnarled, old, beautiful oak tree, the carpenter asked his apprentice: “Do you know why this tree is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful?” The apprentice looked at his master and said: “No…why?”

“Well,” the carpenter said, “because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is useless it could grow so tall and so beautiful that you can sit in its shade and relax.”

Source: Henri NouwenOut of Solitude
(Ave Maria Press, 1974, 2004), pages 26-27

CONSIDER THIS

The world says, “If you are not making good use of your time, you are useless.” Jesus says: “Come spend some useless time with me.” If we think about prayer in terms of its usefulness to us—what prayer will do for us, what spiritual benefits we will gain, what insights we will gain, what divine presence we may feel—God cannot easily speak to us. But if we can detach ourselves from the idea of the usefulness of prayer and the results of prayer, we become free to “waste” a precious hour with God in prayer. Gradually, we may find, our “useless” time will transform us, and everything around us will be different.

Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things. Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God.

From Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit (pages 17, 18).

 

 

LIVING FULLY IN THE MOMENT

One day, while walking through the wilderness, a man  encountered a vicious tiger. He ran for his life, and the tiger gave chase.

The man came to the edge of a cliff, and the tiger was almost upon him. Having no choice, he held on to a vine with both hands and climbed down.

Halfway down the cliff, the man looked up and saw the tiger at the top, baring its fangs. He looked down and saw another tiger at the bottom, waiting for his arrival and roaring at him. He was caught between the two.

Two rats, one white and one black, showed up on the vine above him. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about, they started gnawing on the vine.

He knew that as the rats kept gnawing, they would reach a point when the vine would no longer be able to support his weight. It would break and he would fall. He tried to shoo the rats away, but they kept coming back.

At that moment, he noticed a strawberry growing on the face of the cliff, not far away from him. It looked plump and ripe. Holding onto the vine with one hand and reaching out with the other, he plucked it.

With a tiger above, another below, and two rats continuing to gnaw on his vine, the man tasted the strawberry and found it absolutely delicious.

Source | Derek LinThe Tao of Daily Life. Pages 10-11

PONDER AND CONSIDER

This delightful story, which for many may be unreal, pure nonsense and bordering on the absurd, is in fact and simply about living in the moment. Despite his perilous situation, the man chose not to let unrealized dangers paralyze him. He was able to seize the moment and savor it.

  • Are adversity, crisis and potential dangers robbing you of the precious gift of life?
  • Do you allow adversity, crisis and potential dangers to paralyze you and block you from living every single moment as best and as fully as possible?