Short Story Tuesdays: The Gardener

Deep into the heart of the woods lay a garden full of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs. Some thought it improbable, others marveled at its beauty. Whether the sun beat down on his back or the fresh breeze waved against his sunburned skin, The Gardener hoed, fertilized when needed, and watered his garden,  He never ceased his work; he knew it was up to him to grow a healthy crop. For the Overseer would soon return, ready to take in his crop.

If one looked to the right of his garden he would see a one room cabin. If one stumbled upon it around five forty-five in the morning, when the dew sat on the roses, and the horizon shone in-between purple and orange,  he’d see curls of smoke rising from the chimney. And then, after breakfast, The Gardener worked in his garden until dusk.

It wasn’t easy to keep a garden like The Gardener had. Everyone kept a garden, although few had the patience and willingness to work hard. Any person saw that a garden weeded and cared for grew a wonderful crop, and a forgotten garden with weeds and thistles choked the vegetables, thus giving a poor harvest. Yet, even with this knowledge hardly anyone bothered to keep their garden weeded or watered, it was simply too much work for them. So they went on with their lives, as though they believed harvest would never come.

The Gardener pitied the others who seemed to not care whether their garden grew thistles or vegetables. He pitied them for the Overseer’s disappointment that would hang so lowly over them once He returned, yet he also felt anger rise in his chest. He knew the people knew better, yet they never bothered to lift a finger. The Gardener feared for the little ones. What if their garden only grew thistles and weeds as well? He wondered why their parents did not teach them better things? Instead they laid around sunning themselves, rubbing their ample belly after they surfeit their share of lime cakes. The Gardener wondered to himself, “Do they notice the speck in their eye? Why do they not work for a good crop the way I do?”

He decided he would help them gain a better crop. His garden grew fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits, and herbs; he didn’t have so much to worry about as these people did . . . he could easily afford some time away from his garden.

So The Gardener rambled through the country side, occasionally stopping by cabins and cottages–he didn’t want to appear eager after all– asking the owners if they might accept help with their garden. Some accepted his offers instantly, others immediately turned him down. The Gardener hoped everyone would accept his help, eventually.

The Gardener took careful consideration of his time, realizing he needed time to work in his own garden. Therefore, he scheduled his work plan: he would work in other gardens every other day, giving him plenty of time to work in his garden.

Weeks turned into months and all this time The Gardener  kept up with his work flawlessly. He began to feel as though he could do anything. One morning while the rabbits nibbled on the grass, the gardener browsed the lane, turning his head so that he could see all that went on, content with the world. With all the work the owners and he had done in their gardens the country site soon became picturesque. He felt absolute joy for all the owner’s and their well-kept garden. Now, they too, would harvest a crop come Harvest.

Yet, The Gardener sunk into a deep shadow of gloom when he looked at those thistles and thorns choking some of the neighbor’s crop. He worried and pondered how he could help them, all the while forgetting about his garden.

So, The Gardener lifted his head high, straightened his back and walked over to Miss Spinster’s cottage. He waited patiently for her to open the door.

When Miss Spinster did open the door, she gave him a cold glare that made The Gardener shiver. She barely gave The Gardener a chance to talk, instead she shot him piercing words, telling him, if she thought her garden needed weeding, she’d do it herself. The Gardener nodded and walked off.

But one rejection wasn’t enough for The Gardener so he walked on and asked every unclean neighbor he could think of. The loathsome neighbors turned him down, one by one. When no one agreed to their carelessness The Gardener went home, his head down, scuffing his boots against the dirt.

The Gardener closed the door behind him, kicked off his boots and plumped down on his rocker. He scratched his head, got up, went to his neighbors, and came home in rejection. Never noticing that in his garden weeds slowly began to wrap themselves around the vegetables, like a growing vine.  This repeated for days and days.

One morning The Gardener walked down the lane, when suddenly he heard thunder. He turned his back and noticed clouds rolling in front of the sun, as drops began to fall on the earth. He thought of turning back, but instead he trotted on to Miss Spinster’s place.

Miss Spinster asked, “Did you come to ask if you could weed my garden again? Look I don’t mean to pry, but have you looked at your garden lately? I suggest you go home and look at your garden.”

The Gardener realized he hadn’t looked at his garden lately and wondered when he last weeded his garden. When he reached home and saw his garden, he fell to his knees. The Gardener wept and wept, letting the heavy rain drops fall on his back as he faced the disaster of his garden. The Gardener knew he must get to work right away! Although he didn’t know where to start, when a voice seemed to come from behind him, “At the gate. Start at the gate”.

The Gardener crawled to the gate, beginning to pull every single weed by hand.  The ground was soggy from the rain that continued to pure down. The hoe wouldn’t help him any now. The Gardener worked almost day and night; careful not to slumber for a long period of time, too afraid of wasting time that would allow the weeds to take over again.

Once the weeds that once crawled around the crops were all pulled out, The Gardener felt at ease again. Even though his garden grew promise once again he didn’t stop his paste. One might have said the garden look better than it did before. Something about the way the sun glistened on the shiny green pepper leaves, or the way the bees buzzed around the blossoms, yet perhaps it was the way the birds curved their toes around the plum-tree branches–whatever caused the resplendence, The Gardener didn’t need to know, he felt an inner joy either way

The Gardener’s new enthusiastic actions roused the neighbors and people all around. For those who already weeded their garden daily it was a great joy to see The Gardener go around in this manner. For those who hadn’t yet weeded their garden because of laziness–well they glanced out of their window often, until they were disgusted by the sight and weeded it. Miss Spinster couldn’t help but smile when she saw The Gardener. One morning she turned the knob and opened the door, she lifted her head and weeded her garden.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 ESV