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Today, I will share with you, “The Story of a Boy and an Apple Tree.” It’s an adaptation of the story, “The Giving Tree,” written by the award-winning American writer, Shel Silverstein. Once upon a time, a boy came upon a lovely apple tree. He said to the tree: “Hi friend, can I stay here and play with you? The air is fresh, and the view of the sunset is most beautiful.” “You are welcome to stay for as long as you like. I will gladly share this place with you. We can play and watch the sunset together.” Years went by, and as the boy grew, he couldn’t visit the tree as often. The tree was now often alone. Then one day the boy, who had grown to a young man, came to the tree. “I have come to say goodbye, my friend. I’m going to college.” “That’s great! I’m so happy for you. Remember, you will always have a faithful friend here who will always pray and help you.” One day, years later, the young man returned and sat under the tree and said nothing. Overjoyed, the tree said: “Welcome back, my friend! I am so happy to see you! Why are you so quiet and sad? What’s the problem?” “I need money, but I don't know how to get it.” “That’s easy, I bear a lot of fruits, you can pick them and sell them in the city. Then you will have all the money that you need.”“To raise my family, I need a house and I don’t know how to get one.” “Oh, that’s easy. You may cut my branches to build a house for your family.” …The man grew old and he missed his childhood friend, the apple tree. He came looking for her. “You're back, my friend. How are you? Is there anything I can do for you?” “My friend, I am old and tired. I don’t need much anymore. All I need is a peaceful place to rest.” “Oh, I have just the place for you. Come and rest on my tree stump.” “This is perfect. Thank you, dear friend, from the bottom of my heart. Looking back, I have realized that all my life I had come to you only when I needed something, and you always stood by me. Thank you.” What a tender and touching story. It makes me want to cry. Trees are such noble beings. Our beloved Supreme Master Ching Hai told us just how amazing they are! They are our true friends, who bless us and serve us quietly and unconditionally. Let’s remember that and strive to protect and honor them. Please join us in singing this “Friend Song” dedicated to all the good friends in our lives.