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The Beauty of the Useless Tree

Written by Wallace Huey

Beauty of the Useless Tree

Dedicated to Kate O’Loughlin on the occasion of her 28th birthday
for all those young people who feel society has no place for them.

Once upon a time, many centuries ago, in the ancient kingdom of Dalriada in the northeast of Ireland, grew a magnificent forest. This forest had trees of every kind. Mahogany and cherry trees that had wonderful grain and beech and oak trees with copious amounts of strong heavy timber. And one single tree of a unique kind that grew deep in the forest. This tree was the most beautiful.

Then one day the men came up the valley from the local villages in search of timber. These men had big plans and ideas and needed resources to meet these plans. First they cut down the mahogany and cherry trees and carried them down the valley to the village. “These will make beautiful furniture,” the men told one another. Then they cut down the oak and beech trees and carried them down to the village. “These will make wonderful roofs for our houses,” they all said.

Before long every tree in the forest had been cut down and carried away for some purpose or other. All except one. The most beautiful tree that grew, almost unnoticed, deep in the forest. The men all gathered around this tree and thought of cutting it down as well. Then the leader of the men said, “This tree is useless. Its branches are not suitable to be made into a roof or for furniture, so let’s leave it.”

At first the tree was hurt because it did not want to think of itself as useless. However it was left by the people of the village to grow in its own way. And as the years came and went, the tree grew to be ever more unique and beautiful. Gradually it grew into the most beautiful tree the villagers had ever seen. The children from the village used to run up the hill to play by climbing its trunk and by having picnics under the shade of its sheltering branches.

When the leader of the men in the village walked up the hill with his wife many years later, to look for his daughter, he found her playing with her friends around the beautiful solitary tree. “How foolish I was,” he declared to his wife, “I was convinced this tree was useless and yet by leaving it alone, it has grown into the most beautiful and precious tree on the hillside.”

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