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Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Feb. 26, 2017.

Many years ago, a young boy visited his uncle who worked in the lumber business. They were looking at the trees in the lumber camp when the boy noticed a very tall tree standing alone on the hilltop. Full of excitement, the boy showed his uncle the towering tree. “Look at that big tree!” he exclaimed. “It will make a lot of good lumber, won’t it?”

To the boy’s surprise, his uncle shook his head. “No,” he said, “that tree will not make a lot of good lumber. It might make a lot of lumber but not a lot of good lumber. When a tree grows off by itself, too many branches grow on it. Those branches produce knots when the tree is cut into lumber. The best lumber comes from trees that grow together in groves. The trees also grow taller and straighter when they grow together” (see story from Elder Henry D. Taylor, in Conference Report, April 1965, and cited in “Why Is Unity Important?” by Barbara A. Lewis, Ensign, December 2016).

It is true of trees, and it is true of each of us. We grow into better people when we grow together rather than alone. While there’s value in independence, there are also critical lessons to learn from interdependence. The personal growth that comes from giving and receiving help can happen in no other way.

We were not meant to be solitary, to stand alone, apart from one another. We need other people to love and care about, and we thrive when others love and care about us. Each one of us is needed, and each one of us has something to offer. Together we are better than we would be alone.

All around us are those who are lonely — those who need a friend, a word of encouragement, a kind outreach. So many people are looking for the light of love, the warmth of friendship.

We can resolve not to let them stand alone in the dark or the cold. We can reach out to them. We can take an interest in them and include them. We can help them stand taller and grow straighter, and, like trees that grow in groves, we will find that we too can stand taller and grow straighter. This is what happens when trees — and people — grow together.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), and The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

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