The Fable of the Two Gardeners

The Fable of
the Two Gardeners

By Joseph

Inspired by
Emmet Fox

Once upon a
time there was a wise gardener planting flower bulbs in his garden.  As he worked, he sang; as he sang, each bulb
seemed to glow in his hands as he nestled it into the cool, moist earth.  Every day he planted bulbs, for he desired a
garden of flowers that would spread for miles. 
Some days his back ached from all the bending and digging.  Some days he even complained about his aches
and pains. Mostly however, he planted bulbs and sang, loving the blossoms that
had already bloomed and looking ahead in child-like expectation to the ones that
would sprout in the future—expectation—not impatience.  For he would plant the bulbs and move on,
knowing, trusting that the earth, the sun, the rain, and the One had a plan for
each and every bulb.  The bulbs would
break through in their own sweet, perfect time-most often unexpectedly, most
often when he had forgotten planting them; most often when others were there to
notice and had to point them out to him and he would laugh with surprise.   People
came from far and wide to stroll through his garden.  It was indeed a beautiful site—paradise.  And the butterflies and the bees?  For them it was heaven.  To the toads and the praying mantis, the
hummingbirds, and the sun and the moon, it was also a place to call home.  Yes the sun and the moon loved spending time
in his flower garden.  They loved shining
down upon it, gazing at the riot of colors and infinite variety of the shapes
of the blooms.  The stars would look down
upon his flowers by the light of the moon, and love them so much they would
weep tears of joy that could be found shimmering on the petals and leaves every
morning.  And the wise gardener would
work every day, his every movement a dance, and he loved wondering at the
wonder of it all, that the Creator could devise such a plan that took homely,
roughly honed bundles of hard, dryness and transform them into graceful,
slender, exquisitely gorgeous flowers that opened their fragrant faces and
hands to the sun—faces and hands that dripped with beauty and ambrosia.  He was most grateful however, for the blubs
themselves.  He knew they were the key to
his lavish and abundant garden.  He
collected bulbs wherever he went.  Everyone
he met he would ask them if they had any bulbs they would like to share—rich people,
poor people, smart people, mean people, it did not matter.  If they had bulbs (which everyone did) he
wanted to check them out.  Of course
sometimes someone would offer him a bulb that he didn’t want, and sometimes he’d
take it only to later toss it on the roadside on his way home; other times he
would politely say, “No thank you,” tip his hat, and be on his way.  Mostly he collected all that were offered,
for you never knew exactly what sort of flower a bulb might produce, especially
if the giver didn’t know what it was or where he had acquired it.  The wise gardener loved these mystery bulbs
the best, where each blossom was a wonderful surprise.  He collected large flower bulbs and tiny
ones, old ones and new.  And with each
bulb he gathered and planted, he whispered a prayer of thanks.  The prayer would weave its way through his
song, mingle with the sweat from his brow, and travel down right through his
dirty, loving hands into the earth, and the earth would sing it back in the
form of the blossoms.

Next door
there lived another gardener.  He did not
like waiting for the blubs to grow, so he would steal fully grown flowers from
his neighbor, enjoy their beauty for a few moments, praise them, wonder at
them, and then plant them—blossom, leaves, and stem—right in the ground.  He would then watch and wait for a bulb to
sprout up, for he often heard his wise neighbor saying that the bulbs were the
secret to his successful garden.  Bulbs
never sprouted however.  And after a while
he would walk away shaking his head, blaming his neighbor, cursing the sun and
the flowers themselves, hating the never-appearing bulbs, and wondering why his
garden never bloomed like his wise neighbor’s. 

The wise
neighbor would watch the impatient gardener, in fact he knew he was stealing his
flowers, but he never really thought they were his own property to begin with,
so he didn’t mind.  When the impatient
gardener wasn’t looking (which was often) the wise gardener would creep in and
plant a few bulbs here and there, and then quietly sneak away.  When they finally bloomed, the impatient
gardener (if he noticed at all) would stand there with his hands on his hips,
scratching his head at the site of freshly blooming flowers in his garden.  He never figured out where they were coming
from.  As he stood there perplexed he
could hear his neighbor singing through the labyrinth of flowers he had created,
and he would spit on the ground and go sulk in his dark and gloomy house.

One day the
impatient gardener had enough.  Why wasn’t
his garden blooming like his neighbor’s? 
He stomped over to speak with the wise gardener but when he got there he
couldn’t find him anywhere.  Only the
bright morning sun, the bees and a few butterflies were there dancing among the

“Have you
seen the wise gardener?” he asked a bumblebee hovering nearby.

“He’s gone,”
buzzed the bee.

“Gone?” the
impatient gardener said in surprise.

“He found a
piece of weed-infested land a few towns over and he felt called to begin a new flower
garden there.”

“But what
will happen to this garden?”

“It will
last for generations, for it is filled with perennials and countless bulbs yet
to sprout.  Of course,” continued the bee
whirring around to face the impatient gardener, “It could use tending every now
and then, and it could use some new bulbs, sweat, and songs.”

“Well don’t
look at me,” the impatient gardener huffed.

“Why not
look at you?” came a sudden chorus of a thousand voices—butterflies, bees,
toads, the praying mantis, birds, and the flowers themselves all joined in, “Why
not look at you?  You’ve always wanted a
garden like this.”

impatient gardener hung his head in shame. “It’s not mine,” he whispered, “I
never did anything to help it grow.  In
fact, I stole from it.  I do not deserve
such grace.”

said the Queen Bee just arriving in their midst, “when the wise gardener
planted this garden the land and flowers, the bulbs, and the sun and rain—none of
it belonged to him.  Grace isn’t
something to be deserved, it is simply to be accepted, in the same way you
accept the light from the sun.  The only
difference between you two is that he was willing to work and wait, while you
were not.  And yet, in your own way you
were waiting working, you had secret bulbs planted in your heart—everyone does–that
ached for a new way, that longed to see the light of day and to be shared, and
here you are—you came here asking for help.”

“So?” said the
impatient gardener not yet understanding.

“So?” said
the Queen Bee, “the bulbs in your heart have bloomed.  You are ready to grow your own garden, to
share your own kind of beauty.”

“But that’s just
it,” he said, “this isn’t my garden.”

“Once you
start working it, planting and weeding, it will become yours, and of course, it
isn’t really yours, it belongs to everyone, and most especially to the One.  You will be its caretaker.”

impatient gardener stood there, tears forming in his eyes. He stretched out his
hands as if to show how empty they were. 
And as he stood there, butterflies landed on his arms and shoulders,
birds fluttered around him, wiping his tears with their wings, the flowers
began swaying and dancing, the bees formed a ring of thrumming, buzzing life
around him, toads peeped little peeps of encouragement, and the sun looked down
and smiled. And stood in the center of it all, and wept.

And when
finally he could speak, he asked, “what should I do?”

“Get to work,”
hummed the Queen kindly, “and start singing.”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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