Darkness takes root as long shadows blanket the forest floor.
And within days the woodland is cloaked in a dangerous gloom.
From the right, the Birches and Oaks blame Maples and Elms for long shadows.
“Your branches reach into space that is rightfully ours,” they wail. “And you say we’re ignorant. You dismiss us, saying you know what’s best! Do you know what’s best for us, Maples and Elms? We think not!”
From the left, the Maples and Elms return fire. “You Birches and Oaks have had your say! Your day under the sun has passed. Yet, your lumbering branches continue to block the hopes of a new day. Your long shadows hinder new trees seeking to gain their rightful footing!”
Across the forest, winds of words sway branches.
Under foot, a shared earth quakes as the Birches and Oaks and Maples and Elms jab with sharpened limbs.
Branches sigh and moan, trumpeting the songs of war.
And under cloak of darkness trees steel for battle.
Among the remaining trees, both sides seek allies. Both sides seek validation of hardening positions. And spying the littlest of trees both sides call out. “Are you with us or against us, Little Tree? Choose sides, little one, as the woodland is ripe for war.”
High above the Little Tree’s crown, branches twist and tangle, scattering leaves to the forest floor.
Upon the forest floor, leaves of many colors collect like fallen soldiers.
“What say you, Little Tree? With whom do you stand?”
Taking pause from her habit of observation, the Little Tree spoke.
“I say regardless of size or type of tree or color of bark all trees are equal. It is this equality – not one side or the other – for which we must fight.”
Extending branches wide she continued, “Birches and Oaks, you must respect the others; yield to the inalienable rights and the dreams of the Maples and Elms. And you, Maples and Elms, respect those across the way. Cease your smugness and confidence in knowing what’s right for all.”
The Little Tree trembled for she feared being trampled by her seething neighbors.
“To all of you, I ask; are we to believe half the forest is filled with fools? No, I say. My neighbors are wise and half are not dullards as you both proclaim. Now is not the time to crow or whine or cast aspersions. Now is the time to listen and learn.”
And raising branches high her words pushed aside long shadows.
“It is not under bright sunlight that we discover our true mettle. It is under cloak of darkness that we see our true selves reflected. And I ask you this. Are you proud of your reflection? If not, take pause for we are all trees, each clinging to our little patch of earth. Each working and hoping our saplings take root. Each worthy of respect.”
Around the Little Tree the Birches and Oaks and Maples and Elms stood silent as her words echoed among the trees.
The echo drifted as Birches and Oaks and Maples and Elms considered their place in the woodland.
As one, they closed mouths tight and opened ears wide.
With caution, sharpened branches were withdrawn.
The wind’s wail waned.
And darkness, the ever present coward, returned from whence he came.
“To find our path from darkness it is light we must cast, not shadows.”