by Heidi Sadler
Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
Deep in the wild country there were two villages that relied on the same river to nourish their land. Similar to one another in almost every way, it would be challenging for a visitor to distinguish one village from the other. They both rose early in the morning, at the first break of dawn. The men worked the fields and the women tended to the home while the children climbed trees and collected wildflowers. They were as ordinary as any two villages could be.
One day an astounding change happened upon the two villages that would propel them into the realm of extraordinary. In the village on the North side of the river, a great tree sprang up. Tall and reliable with deep roots, its branches reached towards heaven, providing a comforting shade from the noonday sun. From every branch on the great tree there sprouted gold coins and paper bills that were to be plucked and gathered each morning. There was a particular branch that grew for every family in the village; one branch and no more.
Over on the South side of the river, a similar tree also rose up. It was identical in every way to the Northern tree except that it produced a pile of money so abundant that the branches of the tree could no longer contain it. With every gust of wind, coins and paper bills dropped to the ground, covering the land with money so thick that by the time the villagers arrived, the grass surrounding it could no longer be seen.
On this first day, neither villages knew what to think of their miraculous trees. The Northern villagers gratefully picked their day’s monetary allotment then returned to their daily activities. The Southern villagers, however, were faced with the dilemma of abundance. Not wanting to appear greedy, they gradually filled up one straw basket at a time. As the hours passed, the villagers eventually stopped worrying about appearances and moved faster and faster, not stopping until every single bit of money had been collected. After all, it looked as if it might rain overnight. It was the responsible thing to do, to make certain that not one piece of treasure be left behind. With the setting sun as their backdrop, the men, women, and children alike did their part to carry home the bulging baskets of money; they spent their evening counting out the bills and the coins, dreaming of the changes that this would bring to their little village.
Every morning the people from both villages went out to visit their respective money trees. The Northern villagers continued to participate in their daily gathering of provision. Some mornings there would be single coin, other days an entire handful of paper bills. Whatever the amount, it was always enough to meet the exact need that each family required for that day and that day only. It was as if the branches of the tree could somehow sense each individual need and joyfully provide for whatever the day required.
Meanwhile, on the South side of the river, the superfluous pile of money continued to grow. It seemed as if there was no end to the wealth that the tree produced. In time, the people grew so accustomed to the blanket of money that they started to lie in it, to roll around in it. Day after day, they lounged under the canopy of the tree, letting the money rain down on them as they romped in it like dogs through autumn leaves, like children playing winter snow.
As time passed and the Southern villagers continued to linger under the branches of their tree, they longed for the money to fall deeper and faster. One afternoon while frolicking in the flowing coins and bills, two of the men entered into a debate regarding the future of the tree. How could they get it to produce more money? How could they manage to grow a second, or a third, and so on? Shouldn’t each villager have their own tree? And what about the older and slower gatherers? Was it fair that they could not collect as much money as the younger families with ten and twelve children to help? Their argument quickly escalated into a violent tumble and ended with one of the men killing the other at the base of the money tree. As the others responded to the murder, the violence along the river grew, each man, woman, and child attacking the other. So bloody was the battle that by nightfall, all but one of the villagers remained.
The sole survivor of the South village spent the night roaming the woods. As the sun rose he crossed over to the North side of the river, just as the neighboring villagers were arriving at their money tree for their daily allotment. Hiding behind a patch of blackberry bushes, he watched as each family gratefully picked from their designated branch then took the path back home. Across their faces was a look of contentment that he had not seen from any of his own friends or family since the day before the money tree had bloomed.
“Good day, neighbor,” one of the Northerners called out to him, noticing the Southerner lurking in the bushes. “What brings you to our side of the river?”
The lone villager stepped out of the bushes and pointed to the Northern tree of daily provision. “Rumor has it that you have all you need on the North side of the river. Came to see for myself. I hear it’s better than any tree that grows on our side of the river.”
“Then you’ve heard correctly,” the Northerner answered and waved his hand in a greeting. “Now come. Join us for breakfast.”
“You sure you have enough for one more at your table?” the Southerner reluctantly asked as he approached.
“Fret not, friend,” came the welcome response. “We may not be the wealthiest village, but we always have plenty for each day. Our tree takes care of us in that way.”
If you enjoyed this story, read more of Heidi and Ben’s writing and learn about their ministry at www.chasingebenezer.com. You’ll like it! I guarantee it.