Friday, August 5, 2011


Two woodcutters were entrusted with the work of cutting down the old rubber trees in an estate before replanting. One of them was stout and strong. The other was lean and thin. On the first day each of them could cut down the same number of trees. But the next day, the lean man could cut more trees than his friend. The third day, the trend continued, though the stout man worked harder without rest, sweating profusely. The stout man doubted his own strength and suspected that he was becoming weaker as his performance was steadily declining. He watched the work of the lean man to learn the secret of his success. He was found to take frequent breaks and go away, apparently to rest, but mysteriously, was more productive. The stout man asked his colleague about his secret. The lean man said that every hour he used to take a short break to rest and relax for a while, and during this period, he used to sharpen his axe as it gets dull with repeated use. A sharp axe enables one to work more effectively with less effort. The sharp axe cuts deeper and the occasional rest supplies strength and energy.

This is true in our daily life. Some people are always busy with their work. They do not find time to rest or sharpen their mind. Meditation, prayer, reading good books, hobbies and healthy interaction with family and society are the means to sharpen our personality and spirituality. ‘Workaholics’ like alcoholics get addicted to work and find no time to sharpen their ‘axe’. We can sharpen our axe (head, heart, hands and habits) by prayer. Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “If I had six hours to cut down trees, I would spend the first three hours sharpening my axe and the last three cutting down the trees.”

“If your axe is blunt and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is more sensible to plan ahead” {Ecclesiastes 10: 10}.


©By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India and Leo. S. John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.

For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit the web-sites:

This is Story No. 200 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

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