virgin islands scene

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
-- Robert Greenleaf


Wednesday, April 2, 1997

A Fable

Once upon a time, there was a man with a big family who desperately needed a big house. He didn’t have enough money to buy a big house, though. So his family lived wherever they could. They were always cold, and crowded and uncomfortable, and they longed for a big house.

The man heard one day that gold had been discovered, high up on a mountain. So he set off up the mountain with his pick axe, hoping to find enough gold to buy a big, warm house for his family.

On the first day, right in the middle of the narrow mountain trail stood a tree -- not a huge tree, yet big enough to block the path. So the man used his pick axe to cut down the tree. It rolled down the side of the mountain into a meadow far below. The man continued along the path to the area where gold had been discovered. All day long he chipped into the side of the mountain with his pick axe, yet he found no gold.

The next day, he was surprised to see that the tree had grown back, and was again blocking his path. So again he cut it down, and it rolled down the side of the mountain to the meadow far below. Again the man searched all day for gold, only to come back empty handed.

For six months this went on. Day after day, the tree would grow back. Day after day, the man would cut it down. And day after day, the man would return to his family empty handed.

Then one day, the man happened to glance down, and was astonished to see a big, beautiful new house in the middle of the meadow below. Surely this must be the new home of someone who has found the gold, he thought. Perhaps they’ll tell me where they found it. He ran excitedly down the mountain and knocked on the door of the house.

"What a beautiful house you have,” he said to the woman who answered the door. “Did you pay for it with the gold you found on the mountain?"

"Heavens no,” said the woman. “I am just a poor widow. I have no gold. But each day for the last six months, a freshly cut log has rolled down the mountain. My children and I simply gathered the logs together to build this big, beautiful house."

— Ralph Marston

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