The Pine Trees

When God created the trees, he gave them roots to ground them firmly in the earth and also branches that could reach up to heaven, for that was where the trees had come from, and they should never forget their true home. Ever since then, the trees, stretching up their branches towards the heavens in memory of their Lord and Creator, have been like a perpetual silent prayer.

This the pine tree also did, and as it lifted its long, spreading branches, it was taller than all the other trees. I will tell you the reason why it no longer does this today. It happened yet again that Mother Mary and Joseph, her husband, could find no lodging for the night, for they were far from any dwelling places. Thus they had to lie down in the middle of a forest of tall, slender pine trees. They tried to go to sleep, but the wind and the cold pressed sorely upon them, and it even began to snow, gently at first and then more and more heavily. They snuggled up as closely as they could to the trunks of the slender trees, but this gave them little protection. Mary’s great need gave her courage, and she lovingly stroked with her hand the trunk of the tree she was near and said: “I do not like to disturb the silent prayer you are praying to our Lord and Father, but God is now coming to earth. I am carrying His son beneath my heart, and he needs your help.”

Mother Mary had hardly uttered these words when the tall tree trembled from root to crown and slowly, slowly, it brought down its branches, lower and lower until there was a wide-spreading roof. Although the pine had lost its green needles in the autumn like all the other trees, these now sprouted once more, never to fall again. In this way, the pine tree gave Mary and Joseph all the shelter they needed for the night.

Because it had been ready to give up its silent praying for the sake of the Holy Family, the pine tree has ever since been especially honored. When Christmas time comes, its branches—that bowed low in loving sympathy to Mary and the coming Child—light up with such a radiance of candlelight that it is the most glorious of all the trees, offering its light to humankind and to God.

Georg Dreissig, in The Light in the Lantern