I always liked this story; I don’t know who actually wrote it because I heard versions of it that had to have been written long before Tom Waits was born, which is the one I'm going to tell. It’s a little different than his but, I think he’s the one who takes credit for it these days, so give credit where credit is due if it’s Mr. Waits. Ours came from a book of fables. It was called the fable of the Joshua tree back in my day and I always loved it. Now that I'm older I realize Joshua trees don't grow where logging trees are that I know of..but "never my mind", like Sydney used to say when she was little. It goes like this.
Long, long ago, in a dense forest there were thousands of tall, and beautifully perfect trees. They were so proud of themselves; after all, they were God’s chosen ones, that was obvious. They were straight and stretched towards the heavens with open arms and closed spirits.
Among them here and there, were a few ugly trees compared to the magesty of the perfect trees. The Joshua trees branches were twisted and gnarled. The roots were sticking out of the ground on some, and the limbs were uneven and bent. All the beautiful trees made fun of these ugly trees.
“Are you hunchbacks?” “You’re so ugly you couldn’t get a job at a haunted house”! Oh, the teasing never stopped. The laughter coming from above made the ugly trees feel sad and useless. But, they never said much, what good would it do? They quietly believed God had a purpose for their lives too. But the ugly trees did spend more time than they should have(nobody's perfect) wishing they were as beautiful as the other trees, and asking why God let this happen to them? They asked, "what good am I, I can never provide shade to the travelers, or even nests for the birds in my crooked, prickly, twisted branches". Nobody needed them it seemed!
Woodcutters came to the forest one day, driving their huge logging trucks. That site was pretty much any trees worst nightmare! After looking over both the straight and crooked trees, surprisingly, the boss logger shouted out, "Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest." Another woodcutter shouted back, “The tall trees are really some beauties boss, you’re right… we gotta have ‘em.” Chop, chop, chop went the woodcutter’s axes and one by one the tall trees started to fall. “None of us is going to be spared,” screamed one of the beautiful trees! Soon that tree too was brought to ground by the woodcutter’s axe. There was an eerie silence in the forest now.
The woodcutters turned all the straight trees into lumber that day. They became things like toothpicks and toilet paper. And the crooked trees are still there, growing stronger and stranger, and more twisted every day.
The moral to the story was that God has a plan for all of us, no matter what we look like or how things seem at the moment. We should always be gracious and kind and accept all people while we wait for the big picture to unfold..
A couple of summers ago, Lori Moore and I drove through the Joshua trees on our way to San Diego and I thought of this fable. I thought I have to remember to tell that one to the kids! Guess you’re all "the kids" today.