photo source: Water the Bamboo Center for Leadership
Once upon a time in the heart of the Western Kingdom lay a
beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day the Master of the
garden liked to walk. Of all the creatures of the garden, the most
beautiful and most beloved was a gracious and noble bamboo tree. Year
after year Bamboo grew yet more noble and beautiful, conscious of her
Master’s love and watchful delight, but always modest and gentle.
And often, when the wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would
cast aside her grave stateliness to dance and play merrily, tossing and
swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great
Dance of the Garden, which delighted the Master’s heart.
Now one day the Master sat down to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes
of curious expectancy, Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed her
great head to the ground in loving greeting.
The Master spoke: “Bamboo, I would use you.”
Bamboo flung her head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days
had come, the day for which she had been made, the day to which she had
been growing, hour by hour, the day in which she would find her
completion and her destiny. Her voice came softly: “Master, I am ready. Use me as you will!”
“Bamboo,” – the Master’s voice was grave, “I would like take you and cut you down.”
“Cut … me … down! Me, whom you, Master, have made the most
beautiful in all your garden … cut me down! Not that, not that. Use me
for your joy, O Master, but cut me not down!”
“Beloved Bamboo,” – the Master’s voice grew graver still – “if I do not cut you down, I cannot use you.
The garden grew still … Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent her proud and glorious head. There came a whisper: “Master, if you cannot use me unless you cut me down … then … do your will and cut!”
“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I need to cut your leaves and your branches from you also.”
“Master, Master, please spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty
in the dust, but would you also take from me my leaves and branches?”
“Bamboo, if I do not cut them away, I cannot use you.”
The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low, “Master, cut away.”
“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would also split you in two and cut out your heart, for if I don’t I cannot use you.”
Then was Bamboo bowed to the ground: “Master, Master … then cut me and split me.”
So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo and cut her down and
hacked off her branches and stripped off her leaves and cleaved her in
two and cut out her heart.
And lifting her gently, he carried her to
where there was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of his
dry fields. Then putting one end of broken Bamboo into the spring and
the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down
gently his beloved Bamboo. The clear sparkling water raced joyously down
the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the
rice was planted and the days went by, and the shoots grew, and the
photo source: (left) Renato Amato; (right) Wikipedia: Rice production in Thailand
In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in her stately beauty, yet
more glorious in her brokenness and humility. For in her beauty she was
life abundant, but in her brokenness she became a channel of abundant
life to her Master’s world!
Source | Daniel O’Leary, Year of the Heart: A Spirituality for Lovers, (Paulist Press 1989), pages 85-87