Once upon a time, in a faraway magical land where only trees grew, there lived a tree called the thorn bush. The thorn bush was small and thorny, yet it had a special heart—one that was filled with love. Many trees did not like the thorn bush because it had no fruits or flowers like the other trees. So the thorn bush lived alone with no friends in a small house in the faraway magical tree land.
Then one day, the king of the tree land died. Everyone was sad because it was a week to the harvest festival and they now had no king to declare the festival open. That morning, the old wise trees decided to have a meeting.
“Our king, Sir Cedar of Lebanon, is dead!” the oak, the king’s right-hand man, said to the wise trees. Upon hearing the words of the oak tree, there was a fresh outburst of tears.
“He was a good king!” some trees lamented.
Other trees reasoned, “He had been sick and drying up for the past few months so it doesn’t come as a shock.”
After a brief emotional display, the wise oak continued, “Let’s take a few moments of silence to show our respect to the great king.”
All rose and bowed their heads in silence. After a few seconds, the oak added, “May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.”
“Amen!” everyone chorused.
“Well, out of this tragedy I’m afraid a new day must dawn. It is only a few days to the harvest and, as we all know, we must have our king open the festival by presenting his first fruit before the Creator of All.”
Without batting an eyelid, the oak continued, “We must choose a new king.” Gasps rippled through the group of wise trees.
“Shouldn’t we at least let the customary month of mourning end?” the berry tree asked.
“We don’t have that luxury because the harvest festival must be held in a week or it can’t be held at all. That’s what the Judge of All said,” the oak clarified.
“We must choose the new king today then, so he will have enough time to prepare for the harvest festival. Then afterwards King Cedar’s mourning month will begin. There must be no crying during the harvest festival,” the oak finished.
The inner council of trees gathered together to decide who would be the new king.
After a few minutes, they returned to the other trees with their decision.
“This is what we have decided,” the palm tree announced, turning to the olive. “You will be our king; your oil is pleasing as the oil for the altar of the Creator of All. You are fit to be our king.”
“What?! No, I can’t! I have an assignment to pour the oil from my fruits before the Creator of All. I can’t leave my priestly duties just to be a king, waving back and forth among the trees,” the olive tree said.
The trees were not too pleased with the olive’s response, so they deliberated again for a while and came up with another option.
“Fig, you be our king. Your fruits are sweet and would be acceptable as the king’s fruit.”
But the fig also complained, “No, I can’t. My fruit was made so everyone could eat it. It’s not for a king; it’s for the people. I love my job and I don’t want to be the king waving back and forth among the trees.”
After days of calling on all the highly qualified trees to be king and seeing that none was willing or available, the wise trees held another meeting.
“Let’s talk to the thorn bush,” one tree suggested.
“No, we can’t. He’s good for nothing and unfit to be king,” another tree countered.
“Besides, he is ugly and the only thing he has to offer is a branch full of thorns. That would do more harm than good,” said another.
“The thorny tree can’t be our king. It would be a slap in our faces. We had better remain without a king,” they concluded.
But after two more days, no other tree was willing or available for the job of king. The olive finally convened the last meeting. Seeing that they had no other choice, the wise trees finally decided to ask the thorn bush to be king. All along, the thorn bush had watched quietly from a distance as the old wise trees had talked to all the other trees. Sometimes they had come close to his home to talk to a neighboring tree but never did they approach him.
The thorn bush never really expected them to come but he hoped they would. He knew he could do the job well but the wise trees would never approve of him because he was all thorny and had no fruits or oil befitting a king. He was upset that they used his external features to judge his ability and prayed that he would one day have the opportunity to prove his worth.
His prayers were finally answered when the day before the festival, the wise trees still hadn’t found a tree that was willing to be the next king and the festival would have to be cancelled. They grudgingly came to the thorn bush’s house and banged loudly on his door.
“How may I help you?’ the thorn bush asked angrily as he opened the door.
“You will be our king!” the palm said in a commanding tone. For one brief moment, the thorn bush felt elated that he had finally been asked. Then it came to him in a flash that the only reason these lofty trees had asked him was because there was no one else to take up the position and they were desperate.
The thorn bush was angry at their deception and cruelty.
“Why have you finally come to me? Is it because all the other more qualified and dignified trees have turned down your offer? You never liked me or believed in me so now I turn down your offer too. I will not be king!” the thorn bush said before slamming the door in their faces and going back to sleep.
And for the first time in the magical tree land, the harvest festival was not held simply because the wise old trees looked down on the great thorn bush. How many times have you lost out on something really big because you overlooked a minor detail or looked down on someone, judging them based on the external? Let this be a lesson to you—the thorn bush next door may be the best king you’ll never have.
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