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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  1. This kind of is one of the most advantageous page which I have study till date on this amazing issue. Unquestionably broad yet still to the point not including just about any filler.

  2. angelika smirnow-krige says:

    Please read the ‘Ringing Cedars’ series of books by Vladimier Megre.
    Love and blue light.

  3. Ally says:

    I remember you published this a few years ago in some magazines. I myself read it in the French edition of Elle… A nice story, I’m thinking of dramatizing it at school with the kids. Happy Holidays!

  4. Dr.Rehana Kausar says:

    LOVE this story.It sort of touched me deep in my soul.Thanks you

  5. Ingmire says:

    This is another mystery…
    the faith to accept the 3 strong cedars as a parable for christian belief… Recycling Stoytelling for the ages…Earth Based as Native American…food for deeper thought.
    Cedars with ego…amusing!

  6. Hanan Diab says:

    Cedar is one of the most aromatic and resistant types of wood known. The variety known as the Cedar of Lebanon was of especially good quality, solid, not many knots, and of a deep rich reddish color. The trees themselves were of a rather unusual shape – quite wide with branches growing nearly straight out, and a nearly flat top (in contrast to, for example, the North American White or Black Cedar varieties which are seldom as tall and always narrower). They could sometimes reach a height of well over 100 feet (30 meters). Their very name came to symbolize strength and magnificence.
    Cedar wood was used in Jerusalem for various construction projects, including the king’s palace and the Temple itself (perhaps unfortunate there, when the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar conquered and burned much of the city – cedar, although very beautiful and aromatic, also burns very hot and fast due to the highly flammable resins in the wood).
    For a long time very plentiful, Cedars of Lebanon are now extremely rare. This magnificent tree will be making a big come-back one day however. God will be seeing to that.
    Cedar of Lebanon was important to various civilizations. The trees were used by the ancient Phoenicians for building trade and military ships, as well as houses and temples. The Egyptians used its resin for mummification, and its sawdust was found in the pharaoh’s tombs. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh designates the cedar groves of Lebanon as the dwelling of the gods to where Gilgamesh ventured. They once burned cedar in their ceremonies. Jewish priests were ordered by Moses to use the bark of the Lebanon Cedar in circumcision and treatment of leprosy. Isaiah used the Lebanon Cedar as a metaphor for the pride of the world[17] According to the Talmud, Jews once burned Lebanese cedar wood on the Mount of Olives to announce the new year. Kings far and near requested the wood for religious and civil constructs, the most famous of which are King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and David’s and Solomon’s Palaces. It was also used by Romans, Greeks, Persians, Assyrians and Babylonians.
    The Lebanon Cedar has always been the national emblem of Lebanon, and it is seen on the Lebanese Flag.

    Proud am Lebanese… My Beautiful Country … Beautiful people …

  7. THELMA says:

    Our thoughts, wishes and dreams, will eventually be fulfilled, materialized! This is the Law of creation. We have to be very careful and pay attention to every wish we express.
    A very touching story. Thank you Paulo Coelho.

  8. Barbara says:

    E’ una bellissima storia…grazie a tua nonna per avertela raccontata e grazie a te per averla condivisa con noi!

  9. mariangela says:

    O mais importante aconteceu : foi executada “A vontade de Deus”, e de um jeito ou de outro as tríªs árvores tiveram a felicidade de sentir o milagre. ….se tudo na vida fosse assim, independente do tempo, seria uma maravilha.
    Muito bonita essa história.
    Mari Raphael.

  10. Polter says:

    A mooving story… I need to pass this on to friends…

  11. Heart says:

    Ah. Sweetest story. Just keep believing in the triumph of failure.

  12. Alexandra says:

    Maybe the most beautyful story ever heard.Only,me protestant.Cross,not sure represent not torture.I like the story and I accept other opinion.

  13. Jules says:

    Very touching, Mr Coelho

    Thank you for sharing

  14. Maria says:

    gr8 story!!! have to tell mom this!!

  15. Kathleen says:

    OMG That was such a beautiful story. You obviously got your gift of storytelling from your grandmother.

    Apologies in advance if it is annoying that I always mention my dreams and ?visions here but one night I was in my 12 year old nephew’s room (it is where my computer is) and I saw above his bed on the wall a solid green Cedar Tree. I have never understood to this day what that meant, if anything, but its interesting to read stories about them.

    With love, Kathleen xxoo