A CERTAIN hickory tree which shades our lawn has lately been the means of teaching so valuable a lesson that its story is here told for the benefit of others who, figuratively speaking, may have hickory trees on their own premises.
Each year when the arrival of spring causes the other trees to put forth their leaves, this one stands for weeks in gaunt and bare unloveliness. The sun may shine its brightest, the soft winds may blow, the warm summer showers may beat as they will, but there is no response; while all around is growing green and beautiful, it alone remains coldly aloof, taking no part and apparently wishing to have no share in the general awakening. Yet we are never concerned about it, for we know that after a while tiny buds will appear, which will swell and grow without unfolding until they stand all over its gnarled branches like stiff little Christmas candles. Then perhaps there comes a night of rain followed by a day of brilliant sunshine, and lo, a miracle is wrought! The Christmas candles soften and uncurl into baby leaves, which hang for a few days like feathery tassels, and then imperceptibly assume such shape and color that, almost before we are aware, our stubborn old hickory tree stands clothed in a garment of green which is a delight all the season long.
Once, as we were enjoying its luxuriant shade, the thought came, Why can we not be just as patient with our loved ones who are having their struggle in getting started, as we are with trees? People, as well as trees, have characteristics of their own, and is there any occasion to fret and worry because all mental processes are not alike? The violet pushes through the wet leaves at almost the first breath of springtime, while the rose requires weeks of care and vigilance on the part of the gardener before it reaches its full splendor. Yet who can say that one is more lovely than the other? Is the violet in any position to criticize the rose, or should the rose judge and condemn the violet? Each is simply unfolding after its own nature, and neither self-righteousness on the part of the violet, nor self-condemnation on the part of the rose, will facilitate the growth of either. Then shall we have less patience with our brother and our sister than we have with the grass of the field, "which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven"?
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