Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The Pioneer Woman recently posted about Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. She loves the book, and about 98% of the people who commented said that they cry like a baby when they read it. Having great sentimental value, most people cherish the simple story.

I, on the other hand, have a hard time with it. It makes me profoundly sad. I'm not sure if I am sadder for the tree who gives until she is a stump and gets nothing in return or for the boy who never learns to give. Perhaps, I don't really understand it's meaning. Is the tree God? Is the tree a mom? Does is speak to the selfishness of humanity or of unconditional love? Or is it a completely dysfunctional relationship?

Maybe it's because it can be interpreted in so many ways, that it is a "good" piece of literature. Maybe we can learn from it depending on where we are in our own personal journeys. I really have no idea... that's why I asked my friends on Facebook.

I really liked the interpretation Steve gave...

"A metaphor and allegory of two kinds of people, those who take, and those who give. Those who seek only to please themselves wind up bitter, alone, and coming back to those who give. Those who give are portrayed as having a seemingly endless wealth of creativity and imagination, while those who take merely consume, consume and consume. Peace!"

Even if I gave and gave until I was only a little stump at the end of my life, I think I'd still rather do that than be a lonely, bitter consumer.

Erma Bombeck once said,
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".

I like that.

And I am left with a question... How do you teach children to be more like the tree than the old man?

4 comments:

Denise said...

i heard once that shel silverstein wrote that book after he became a christian.

the book is one of my favorites. it also makes me sad. for me the truth is i am the boy (like it or not), and God is always the tree. in every situation he will always be the tree.

he likes being the tree. i could never be, But sacrifice is what he does.

Court said...

This is one of my favorite books from growing up. My Dad's Mom always read this to me, she died when I was in the 6th grade but we were super close. I have an old copy of this that she signed to me. I think Jesus is like the tree and we are like the Boy...dif is that Jesus does not grow tired of giving to us, His love is never ending. Also, as parents we give to our children and we can grow tired and weary like the stump...but when we seek God He renews us and gives us what we need to serve our "needy" families:) That's my thoughts:)

Court said...

And to answer your question...we teach our children by letting them feel how good it feels to give, praising them when they choose to share or give. And when they don't feel like giving we share with them how we are loved by a loving/giving God. Definately think this is a lesson that matures as we mature, when more is required of us.

Linda Z said...

Thank you for your thoughts... they give me more to think about! :)

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