The Spirituality of the Bamboo

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

While preparing to travel to school to prepare my enrollment requirements, I chanced on EWTN featuring Fr. Brian Mullady, OP delivering a sermon on how to truly serve God. I particularly loved how he likened serving God to being like a bamboo tree. Here's the story, with my paraphrasing and poetic license.

The emperor, who loved collecting beautiful plants and trees, considered his bamboo tree the most beautiful of all the plants he has owned in his personal garden. Aside from being able to sway with the wind, its colors and the leaves brought him much delight.

However, there came one day when the emperor decided to make use of the bamboo, his most precious plant. So he went to talk with the bamboo that day and told him that he will now be used by the emperor.

"Dear bamboo, you are the most beautiful of all the plants that I have planted here in my garden. But now, I will have to make use of you, and I do hope that you will serve me faithfully, like how you adorned my garden so beautifully," the emperor began.

"Dear master, you know that my greatest love is to serve you and to be used by you," the bamboo replied.

"Well then, I will have to cut you down," the emperor said.

"My dear master, why shall I be cut down? I greatly dislike being cut down and being led away from this serene and colorful garden... If I shall be cut down I would never adorn your garden as beautiful as before..." The bamboo wept as it answered its master.

"But, you will not be able to serve me, and I will not be able to use you," the master told its bamboo tree.

The bamboo then bowed before the emperor. "Therefore, cut me down, and use me as you wish."

Then the emperor went on, "Now, I need to strip you of your branches and leaves."

"Oh, no, my master! These branches and leaves have given me such vibrant color, and all along I have seen you enjoy the sound of my leaves rustling in the gentle wind. But why strip me master?" The bamboo cried again.

"If I would not strip you of your leaves, and cut off your branches, I will not be able to use you," the emperor replied, with much sadness in his face.

"Therefore, my master, strip me, and do as you please," the bamboo bowing while obediently answering to its master's request.

"But my dear bamboo, I have this one final thing to do. I will have to cut you into pieces."

The bamboo, already stripped and cut off from its roots, quietly sobbing, now replied with conviction, "Cut me in pieces, as you please." And the bamboo was cut into pieces.

Now, there was a great famine in that land, and there was a dire need for irrigation to the rice fields. The bamboo was used in constructing the irrigation system, and with the bamboo's sacrifice, it did not only serve the emperor, but helped save a nation from hunger.


Lord, grant that I may be like the bamboo, ever ready to serve you, until it hurts.

Saint John Ogilvie, pray for us.


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