The Garden (an allegory)

+JMJ

Inspired by the writings of St Therese of Lisieux

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily

do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.

If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” ― St Thérèse of Lisieux

228

Day after day, enormous azure waves crashed against a towering cliff that overlooked the sea. The sea shone with bright turquoise and gold under the sun. The cliff was white and dazzling as it rose from the waters. At first, nothing particular could be seen on the cliff except a flat, barren plateau of rocks. Yet if one were to look very closely and in just the right place, they would happen to see a tiny flower growing in a bit of soil between the rocks. It was light blue and it often felt forgotten and alone, because there were no other flowers on the cliff.

On the other side of the cliff, there could be seen a fragrant green valley with many wondrous gardens and meadows. The little flower spent its days gazing at the valley and watching the other plants. It could see towering trees with their many branches swaying in the wind and their leaves casting intricate patterns of sunlight and shade on the ground. The flowers it could not count, for they were as numerous as the stars in the sky. Thousands of them could be seen, interweaved in a dazzling mosaic of blue, yellow, lilac, crimson, and other vibrant colours. Bright streams ran through the valley providing it with water, colourful butterflies fluttered above the meadows, and mountains with their glimmering peaks shone in the distance. A soft breeze brushed through the valley, rustled the leaves, and carried a lovely fragrance to the top of the cliff.

Captivated by all this beauty, the little flower gazed on the valley, but there was Someone dearer than all others that it eagerly awaited to see each morning. With each sunrise, shining with light more radiant than the rays of the sun, the Lord and Creator of the garden would walk through His creation. In fact, He had made everything that there was, but the little flower did not know this. All throughout the night, the little flower awaited His coming. Upon seeing Him, its little heart was pierced by both joy and sorrow. How kind and tender He looked! Longingly, it wished that He would visit it too, but this was not to be… The cliff was very far from the valley and very high up. Often, the little flower wondered why it was created to be so lonely and placed so far away from the other plants. It could see other little blue flowers that grew in cheerful little groups, but it was all alone, surrounded only by sharp rocks. It had no one with whom to share its pain and it spent its days and nights hoping for the Lord to come and visit it and this was the greatest happiness that it could imagine.

The little flower watched the Lord as He walked among His flowers in the most beautiful garden. It was filled with magnificent roses, lilies, lilacs, tulips and magnolias. The apple orchard was in full bloom and its little white blossoms filled the air with a light fragrance. The Lord delighted in these flowers, and held the delicate roses in His hands and they scattered their petals before Him on the path where He walked. The path was strewn with beautiful red, rose, white, and yellow petals. How the little flower wished to scatter its little petals on the path, even to give all its petals, though they were so few, just to see the Lord smile and delight in its love! It thought it could surely love just as much as the tall gorgeous roses and the pure white lilies. Then, more than ever, it grieved to remain on the rocky cliff. Sometimes, one of its little blue petals would fall on the ground, and the little flower wished for the wind to catch it and carry it to Him. It watched as the Lord then walked to the lilies and rejoiced in their purity and innocence. They bent to the ground before Him and He blessed them.

The little flower observed the Lord walk among His other plants. The tall majestic cedars offered Him their shade, and as He lay on the grass in the meadow, the little violets and daisies delighted Him. Again the little flower wished to give such comfort and love to Him but it could only send its love from afar. Did Jesus hear it at all? Did He know about this little flower, all alone on the cliff, hoping against all hope to be one of the flowers in the valley? It watched as the Lord smiled at the flowers and longed so much to be among them that its heart almost broke.

During the nights when a piercing cold wind blew from the sea and stars could be seen sparkling in the heavens, the little flower would ask the birds that perched on the tall rocks to fly into the valley as it lay shrouded in twilight and describe what they saw. Eagerly, it awaited to hear about the Lord, but when the birds returned, they only described the sleeping flowers and the silent, tall trees.

Sometimes, a deep mist covered the cliff and isolated it entirely from the valley and even the sea. Then the little flower was tossed about and torn in the wind, often covered with dirt and mud, and could not even see through the mist to watch its Beloved Lord. At these times, it was no longer sure if it had ever seen Him or if it was only a very beautiful dream. Sadly, it wondered if it had ever seen anything other than this dense darkness surrounding it. It hoped that at least the Lord had been real, and it no longer even cared if the valley had been imagined, as long as He really existed. Sometimes it was tempted to think that the Lord did not care or love the little flower, and in these desolate times, it could not figure out why it had been placed in this distant, lonely place. It tried to imagine Him as He was, walking through the valley in His white robe, with a radiant crown of light on His Head, smiling and blessing the flowers as they bowed before Him. Most of all it tried to remember His kind eyes and tried to imagine what it must be like to look into them. Thus day after day, year after year, the little flower remained alone, feeling forsaken under the deep night sky and cold distant stars, shivering in the freezing wind that came from the sea, and exhausted from struggling against the storms that tore its little petals.

One evening, the little flower was thinking of the Lord as it did always, and being deep in thought, it did not notice the lonely figure walking on the plateau towards it. The figure was bowed down as in grief, and did not look at the evening sunlight glimmering on the sea, or the birds flying overhead, or the valley. The figure was that of a man, and he barely walked but had nothing to help or support him. He stumbled over the rocks and the sharp stones pierced his feet painfully. As the man came closer, the little flower was shocked to realize that his whole body was covered with wounds and blood ran from his head which was pierced with sharp thorns. The blood had soaked his garment and hair and was dripping on the rocks as he walked. Tired and worn out from the journey, the man collapsed on a rock right near the little flower. He was barely moving but his hands were shaking. The little flower felt such sorrow for this man and wished with all its heart that it could help him. But what could it do, being so tiny? It raised itself a little to look at the man’s face, and as it did so, it felt as if the world had stopped…

The man’s face was covered with blood and dirt, but as the little flower looked at his eyes, it recognized the unmistakeable eyes of the Lord it had so often watched in the valley. Its little heart fluttered so quickly that it could not speak. It was truly Him! It would surely know His eyes anywhere.

Now, tears fell from His eyes to the ground, but they were still just as kind and beautiful as when He had blessed the flowers. As the little flower was contemplating this, one of His large tears fell on its petals. Then, drops of His blood began falling on the flower. Yet the whole time, it was only glad to see Him, though overcome by sorrow and helplessness. It saw as one of its petals fell right near the Lord. It was no longer blue and looked very tattered, as the little flower had endured a terrible storm the night before. But with all its heart, it offered this little petal to Him and wished that like a tree, it could offer its leaves to wipe the blood from His face and cover the hard rocks on which He lay. It thought of the other flowers in the valley, and how they probably did not know what had happened to the Lord and how they would have wanted to comfort Him if they only knew. Why was He here, on this desolate cliff, all alone?

Suddenly, the Lord looked at the little petal, picked it up and laid it on His hand. The little flower saw that both of His hands were pierced through. The petal covered one of the wounds on His hand. The Lord turned then and looked at the little flower. He looked upon it with such compassion and love, and despite His pain, He was smiling. “Thank you”, He whispered.

The little flower did not at first understand. “Dear Lord, for what do You thank me? If I had been like one of the roses or the beautiful flowers in the valley, I could have done so much more to help You”. And the little flower bowed down sadly until it touched the ground.

“My very little one.. Do you know why I have placed you here? I know you often felt so forgotten and alone. But I never stopped thinking of you and supported you when you knew it least. And now you have consoled Me.”

The little flower still could not understand. What has it ever done? How had it ever consoled Him? It raised itself to look into His eyes.  He looked back with immeasurable kindness yet did not at first answer. The little flower gazed at the wounds on the hands that were stretched towards it. It thought of His weariness and loneliness as He was walking on the cliff, as if carrying the weight of the world. Then, it remembered… the cold, the storms, all the nights of wishing to see Him, wishing that He would visit the cliff. Oh, what were these sufferings compared to His? And yet only on this cliff and only through these nights, could it know and experience for itself at least a part of His pain. With Him, it had suffered and loved…

The little flower could not speak. In its amazement, gratitude, surprise and joy, it almost did not realize as the Lord picked it up with its roots and held it in His hands. “Share now in the joy of your Master”, He said. Amazing, beautiful rays of light came from His Heart and fell upon the little flower. It felt immersed in an infinite ocean of love and light, and completely overwhelmed with joy. His eyes were so kind, shining with such compassion and tenderness, that it wanted to be lost in Him forever. Somehow, without words, it understood that He wanted its love too, that He desired and longed for it, even more than it had longed for His love. It could almost not believe that this was happening. In this unspeakable joy, the Lord held the little flower in His wounded hands and carried it to His most beautiful garden.