A long time ago , a King had his Royal Forester plant a forest in the northeast province of his country. The trees would constantly chatter about the great and noble purposes that the King must certainly have for them. After all, they were planted by the Royal Forester, weren’t they?

There were three trees in the very center of the woods. One was a majestic Oak with bright leaves that would shine in the sunlight. The second was a tall Cedar whose limbs stretched high into the sky. But the last tree was so little, it was almost not worth mentioning at all. It was just a plain Birch tree, and the others would constantly make fun of it, not only for its size, but also for its small dreams.

The Oak would often boast, “Just look at me! My trunk is so straight and strong, and my wood is of such high quality that I’m positive the King will choose ME to be something special ! I could be the proud mast of a royal sailing vessel and travel around the world, or even a carved table for the King’s personal use. When you’ve got such wonderful roots as I do, there no limit to your possibilities!”

“Humph!!!” sniffed the Cedar. “ Some trees think that they’re the living end! I have news for you, my friend, when the King chooses the finest lumber to furnish the Royal Palace , my wood, not yours, will be used. You may be strong, but I’m fragrant. Why, I bet I’ll be made into something especially for the Princess Penelope. She’s the delight of her father’s heart. Of course, she’ll need a royal wardrobe lined with cedar wood for all her fine dresses. And my family has quite a royal history! So, what could be more fitting for one with my stature?”

“Well, at any rate, “ The Oak said, “we can be sure we’re special… But look at that pathetic little Birch tree over there. It’s too small for anything at all. Why, its’ barely a twig!”

The little Birch tree smiled sadly at its companions. “You both talk as if you planted yourselves here. You really shouldn’t boast, for the King’s Forester was very kind to choose us for the royal forest. I’m just a small Birch tree and I have no idea why he chose me. But if I ever could dare to hope to be anything special, I’d like my wood used for a new harp for the Princess. She loves to play, and it gives the King such joy to hear her sweet song. That’s what I’d like to do − sing with the Princess for the King!”

Of course, the two other trees thought this idea was very silly compared to their grand plans. They laughed at the poor Birch tree until its leaves drooped down in embarrassment. The trees would torment it with their laughter until the little Birch tree wanted to pull up its roots and run away.

Then one day, the sky suddenly grew dark. Large, rain-filled clouds gathered threateningly over the forest. It began to pour and the wind stabbed between the trees and hammered at them. Lightning flashed through the sky, and in a moment both the Oak tree and the Cedar tree were struck violently and fell crashing to the ground. The small Birch tree was supple enough to sway with the wind, and it was so short that the lightning didn’t come near it.

After the storm was over, the Oak tree and the Cedar tree were in splinters, good for nothing but firewood. The Forester had them carted away to the village where the peasants could take whatever they wished. And what of the little Birch tree? Its heart’s desire was fulfilled when the Royal Carpenter tenderly and lovingly seasoned the wood to become a harp-sounding board. The Royal Furniture Polisher rubbed the harp’s surface until it gleamed like sparkling gems. And the Royal Princess played lovely songs on the harp for her father. The little tree really did get a chance to sing for the King, although it didn’t feel worthy of the honor. Jesus said, “He who exalts himself shall be humbled,” But he who is humble, like the Birch tree, shall be exalted and have a place of honor in the King’s home.

− The End