Once upon a time in the heart of the Eastern Kingdom lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day was the Master of the garden, who went for a walk. Of all the dwellers of the garden, the most beautiful and beloved was a gracious and noble Bamboo.
Year after year Bamboo grew yet more beautiful and gracious. He was conscious of his Master's love and watchful delight. Yet he was modest and in all things gentle. Often when Wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would throw aside his dignity. He would dance and sway merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon. He would lead the great dance of the garden which most delighted his Master's heart.
One day the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo. With eyes of curious expectancy, Bamboo bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting. The Master spoke: "Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use you."
Bamboo said, "Master, I am ready, use me as you want."
"Bamboo," the Master's voice was grave, "I would be obliged to take you and cut you down." A trembling of great horror shook Bamboo.
"Cut ... me ... down? Me, whom You, Master, have made the most beautiful in all of Your garden? To cut me down? Ah, 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, then I cannot use you."
The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There came a whisper. Bamboo replied, "Master, if You cannot use me unless You cut me down, then do Your will and cut."
"Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would cut your leaves and branches from you also."
"Master, Master, spare me! Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but would You take from me my leaves and branches also?"
"Bamboo, alas! If I do not cut them away, I cannot use you." The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away.
Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low, "Master, cut away."
"Bamboo, Bamboo, I would divide you in two and cut out your heart, for if I do not cut so, I cannot use you."
"Master, Master, then cut and divide."
So did the Master of the garden take Bamboo and cut him down and hack off his branches and strip off his leaves and divide him in two and cut out his heart. Lifting him gently, he carried him to where there was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of Master's dry fields.
Then putting down one end of Bamboo in the spring, and the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo. The spring sang welcome. 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. The shoots grew. The harvest came. In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant. But in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master's world!
"And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, 'Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'" (Mark 8:34-36).