Too Busy Cutting Down Trees

By Eileen

It’s a day of reflection here at The Reservoir. A time to pray, listen, write, contemplate the true meaning of serenity. Listen to the birds singing their spring song of newness, observe the tiny squirrel’s ear size buds on the trees … (brakes squealing!). OK, OK, it’s Wisconsin, we’re in a blizzard (again) and we’re snowed in … (again!). So, the projects – the painting, tilling gardens, gravel moving, and tree cutting – are once again interrupted by the lingering intrusions of winter! However, like a script that is being rewritten, this day changes direction toward the path that is my most favorite. Storytelling!

One of the best books ever written that accomplishes this is “Mondays With My Old Pastor.” It’s a gentle reminder of sorts, of the wisdom we can glean from someone who has walked before us. So, dear reader … settle in, get comfy and read on ….

There once was a woodcutter who showed up at a log mill. The pay was good, and the working conditions were too, so the woodcutter decided to be a good example. The first day he introduced himself to the foreman, who gave him an ax and assigned him to a certain spot in the forest. The man was excited and went out into the forest to work, and in one day he cut down 18 trees. “Congratulations,” the foreman told him. “Keep it up!”

Encouraged by the foreman’s words, the woodcutter decided to improve on his work the next day. So, he went to bed early that night, and the next morning he got up very early, before anyone else, and went out into the forest. He worked very hard, but he was only able to cut down 15 trees. “I must be very tired,” he said, so he decided to go to bed at sundown.

When dawn came, he decided to beat his record of 18 trees. However, that day he wasn’t able to even cut down half that number. The next day he only cut down seven, then five, and the last day he spent all afternoon trying to cut down his second tree.

Photo: courtesy, A New Yorker Talks to Herself about Maine.

Worried about what his foreman would say, the woodcutter went to tell him what was happening and to promise that he was giving it his best.

The foreman asked him: “When was the last time you sharpened your ax?”

“Sharpen my ax? I haven’t had time. I was too busy cutting down trees!”

Photo: courtesy Recreational Trails Program, U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual.

So, if you’re like me, with the end of that story comes a hearty “hurrumpf,” a “head-hanging” moment, an oh-so-subtle “Uh-Oh!” But also a realization of “when the ax gets dull, we will have to spend double the energy to obtain half the results.” Sharpening the ax here at The Reservoir is soaking our every responsibility in prayer. Minutes spent with God produce great gains for every second of our lives. In  turn, dear reader, that way, half of the energy will double the results!

  • Published on Mar 3, 2015
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