The oak tree stood tall over all the other trees in the forest.
“I am an Oak Tree!” the oak tree boasted. “My roots are deep, my wood is strong, my leaves are broad! I sprouted from a seed when this forest was still a field, and many animals make their homes in my branches. The acorns I drop will be carried far and wide and they also will become large and impressive and will dominate the places where they grow. People will make homes and ships and furniture from my wood, and it will never crack or rot. I am the Most Important Tree in these woods!”
The cherry tree blushed. “You may be large and strong, and your branches may be wide, but you have nothing to match the loveliness of my blossoms nor the sweetness of my fruit. My wood is soft and pliable and can be made into beautiful and delicate things. You may have power, but I have beauty. I am the Most Important Tree in these woods!”
The fern rustled in the breeze. “You trees…sure, you’re good for blocking the sun so I can grow, but I make the forest lush and quiet. I cover and shade your roots and protect the soil from which you grow. You may be big and strong and produce delicious fruit, but the forest could not exist without me. I am the Most Important Plant in these woods!”
A chipmunk happened by in the midst of the conversation. “Ha!” said the chipmunk. “You all think you’re the Most Important, but if you didn’t have me to spread your seeds and nuts and store your fruit you’d all just die out. Plus, you’re all stuck in one place! I can roam around the entire forest and do whatever I like! I can hide in the fern’s leaves, sleep in the oak’s branches, and play in the cherry blossoms. No one in these woods is More Important than Me!”
Just then a cloud covered the Sun and the Sky went dark. Rain began to fall. And the Rain said, “You foolish creatures. Do you think any of you could exist without me? You would all dry up and blow away if I did not give you just the right amount of my nourishment. Or I could come with a vengeance and wash you all away down Sister Stream to Mother Ocean. I am More Important than all of you put together!”
At that moment, the ground began to rumble. A great groan came up from somewhere deep beneath everything, and the Earth spoke. “Please stop,” she sighed. The rain slowed to a sprinkle, the clouds began to part, and the sun washed the forest canopy in light, casting shadow patterns across the woodland floor. The branches of Oak Tree and Cherry Tree shook and their leaves sprinkled the last of the raindrops on Fern and Chipmunk.
And Earth said, “I’m so tired. I’m tired of each of you thinking you’re more important than any of you. I can’t listen to your bickering a moment longer. Don’t you see how you all need each other? None of you could exist without all of the Other Ones.
“I give all of you a home so that you can work together with each other and Every Other Thing to be Life. Any of you alone, with only your kind, would soon cease to be. But together, using all you have and all you are, you all become better. You become Beauty.”
Earth sighed again and settled herself. Wind began to swirl lightly through the leaves of Oak and Cherry, then swept gently across the forest floor, rustling Fern and ruffling Chipmunk’s fur.
And the Wind said, “Earth is right. And I connect us all. Trees and plants breathe me in and breathe out fresh air for all the creatures. I rise up to the sky and form the clouds that bring the Rain. I am equally in each of you and all of you all of the time. And you are all Very Important to Us.”
The Wind then blew the last of the clouds out of the sky, and the sun shone brightly through the treetops and down to the forest floor. And Sun said, “Here is my light. Trees and plants convert my light into nourishment. It warms the soil so food can grow for all the Earth’s creatures. This is how you know that you all are loved.”
Oak and Cherry and Fern and Chipmunk inhaled deeply, feeling Wind move to the core of their beings, then softly exhaled. They felt Earth in their roots and toes. They looked up at Sun and smiled.
A small cloud formed and showered the forest softly for a few moments, and Rain entered into the leaves and the dirt, leaving a small puddle in a spoon-shaped rock for Chipmunk to drink from.
Wind lifted again, Sun returned its light, and the whole forest sang.
And if you listened very, very, very closely, you could hear the Song.