The three cedar trees

By Paulo Coelho

My grandmother told the following story: three cedar trees sprouted in the once beautiful forests of Lebanon. As is known, cedar trees take a long time to grow, and these trees spent whole centuries contemplating life, death, nature and mankind.

They witnessed the arrival of an expedition from Israel, sent by Solomon, and later saw the earth covered with blood, during the wars with Syria. They saw Jezebel and the prophet Elijah, who were mortal enemies. They watched the invention of the alphabet, and enjoyed seeing the caravans passing, laden with colorful textiles.

One fine day, they decided to talk about the future.

– After all I have seen – said the first tree – I wish to be made into the throne of the most powerful king on earth.

– I’d like to be part of something that turns Evil to Good forever – commented the second.

– Myself, I’d like it if every time someone looked at me, they thought of God – replied the third.

More time passed, and some woodcutters came. The cedars were felled, and a ship carried them far away.

Each of those trees had a wish, but reality never asks what to do with dreams; the first was used to build a shelter for animals, and what was left over was used as a prop for bales of hay. The second tree was turned into a very simple tree, which was soon sold to a furniture tradesman. Since the timber from the third tree had no buyers as yet, it was cut up and stored in the warehouse of a large town.

They lamented woefully: "Our wood was so good, and no one found anything fine to use it for."

Some time passed and, one starry night, a couple with nowhere to stay, decided to spend the night in the stable which had been built from the first tree. The woman groaned, in the throes of labor, and gave birth, placing her son between the hay and the wood propping it up.

Just then, the first tree understood that his dream had come true: that this was the greatest king on Earth.

Years later, in a modest house, several men sat around the table which had been made from the second tree. Before they ate, one of them said a few words about the bread and wine before them.

And the second tree understood that, at that moment, it hadn’t just been supporting a goblet and a piece of bread, but the union between man and Divinity.

The next day, two pieces of the third tree were taken and assembled to form a cross. It was left to one side, until, hours later, a cruelly beaten man was brought in and nailed to the wood. Horrified, the cedar lamented the barbaric destiny life had left it.

Before three days had passed, however, the third tree understood its destiny: the man nailed there was now the Light which illuminated all around. The cross made from its wood was now no longer a symbol of torture, but became a sign of victory.

As always with dreams, the three cedar trees from Lebanon had fulfilled the destiny they desired – but not in the way they imagined.

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