STORY ABOUT THE OAK TREE
The Oak and the Man
Once there was an oak tree in a village that as old as old can be. No one knew just how old it was, and the elders of the village said that it had seemed just as old back when they were children. Everyone in the village loved the oak tree, and there were many stories about it, and superstitions too. They said that if anyone argued or called names near the oak tree, that person would get sick. If you threw litter on the ground near the oak, before long you would hear some bad news. And if anyone were to break off a branch, they said, death would find him all too soon. There were happy superstitions too: young people in love would meet under the oak tree, so that their love would grow; future mothers would come and visit the tree in the hopes of becoming stronger; and later they would bring their newborn children to the tree, so that they would grow up healthy. The villagers even brought sick people to touch the trunk of the oak, so that some of its strength would be passed along to them. Sometimes the oak really did help. More often things turned out well just because that's what the people really wanted. Still, they all had a great respect for the old oak tree.
One day a new owner moved into the house next to the oak tree. He didn't know anything about the tree and decided to cut it down as soon as he was good and settled in his new home.
"Every time I look out the window I can't see a thing except for that old tree. It's blocking all my sunlight."
It's not so easy to chop down an oak tree, and the man needed help. He went around to all his neighbors and asked if anyone would lend him a hand. Of course, nobody would even think of it – in fact, they did their best to talk him out of it and warn him away with their stories. But all their warnings went in one ear and out the other, for he was determined to carry out his plan.
"Very well, then, if you don't want to help, I'll take care of it all by myself."
The night before the man was planning to cut down the tree he had a dream. In his dream he saw lightning flash in the dark sky, heard the wind roaring like a hurricane, and the old oak was creaking in all its limbs and boughs as if it were having a conversation with the storm.
"My time has come, friend, I've had enough. There's no good left in the world. It was a kind man who lived here before - he and his wife would talk to me and admire my beauty. I never had any reason to be sad. Never in all my life have I had to live through such a tempest. There was always a human heart to fill me with warmth and kindness. But now my strength is gone, for I no longer feel a human heart beside me. I am lonely, yes my friend: I am dying."
There was a sharp, sudden crack and the oak lurched to one side. The gusts of wind were so strong that even the house was shaking.
The man inside was terrified.
"Good Lord, if that great tree falls on my house, there'll be nothing left of me or the house!"
And without even dressing he ran outside, crying, "Don't fall, hold on, my good friend! You are still strong, you won't die yet! See, the wind is already calming down, hold on!"
He ran right up to the tree and hugged it, throwing his arms around it as far as he could, as if he himself could hold it up against the storm...
Every limb of the tree was whipping and cracking in the wind. For an instant the trunk bent and swayed so violently that even the earth around its base shuddered. Just at that moment the man woke up...
The very first thing he did was to run to the window. The oak was standing calmly in the morning sunshine as if nothing had happened. His heart filled with relief.
"May God be with you, good oak! Live well, for you are truly good!"
From then on the man and the oak were the best of friends.
Questions and tasks on the story:
Do you think that if the man had not had his dream he would have cut down the oak?
Write a story about the friendship between the man and the oak tree.
How should a person act if he wants to be friends with a tree? Would you like to be friends with a tree?
Game: "My Friend the Tree"
Choose a tree not too far from your class. For a few days, visit the tree regularly, tell it what you are doing, ask it how it is doing, what it talks about together with the wind or the clouds, the sun or the birds. If you like you can hug your tree, or pet it. Try to remember what it smells like and other things about it. At the end of the week tell your friends about your friend the tree, without saying which one it is, and see if they can guess.
Picture: "The Tree of Life"
Draw yourself in the form of a tree, whose roots are the purpose of your life; whose trunk and branches are what you think about yourself; whose leaves, buds and flowers are your dreams and the things you are learning; and whose fruits are your dreams and hopes come true.
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