Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gardener and His Wife (A Parable)

The old man bent, sadly, over the two vegetable plants. One was dead and the other had grown fat, strong and tall. He rubbed his chin with a thumb and forefinger.

"I don't understand," he said to his wife, who stood behind him. "I raised them just the same. I fed them the same food. I kept them in the same sunny garden patch. I pulled away their dead leaves and talked to them each day."

Birds chirped and a wind moved the green trees.

"Are they the same?" said the old woman.

"No," said the old man. "They are two slightly different vegetables."

"Then, perhaps," she said, "what was nurturing to one was cruelty the another."

"But I wanted them to be treated equally -- with the same love and attention." His eyes brimmed with tears.

"And that is why I love you," she said, touching his face. "But it is also why, if they could speak, at least one of them might curse you for a demon."

As the two looked over the plants, a rain began to fall. The old man watched the droplets hit the dead plant and it seemed to him that the leaves were moving as if to gather his attention. He picked up the dead plant and held it gently in his hand. "I'm sorry, child," he said.

"Alas," she said. "It can no longer hear you," and she lead him inside, out of the rain.

Some years later, the old man, older even still, now weaker, stood with his wife, holding another dead plant in his hand. Only, now, they stood in the shadow a great building that had been built next door to him. The building threw shadows over his garden for a large part of every day, but he had never noticed.

"I don't understand," he said to his wife. I have always been successful in raising these kinds of plants. You have seen how fat, tall and strong they have grown over the years. I did everything the same way as always, yet, now, whenever I plan these, they die. Why have I lost my skill? Is it age?"

The old woman rubbed his back and looked up at the building next to their house -- the one that threw the long shadows, day after day. "Perhaps," she said, leading him gently back into the house with his dead plant, "the soil has changed with time."

"Perhaps," he said, sadly, but feeling better. "Perhaps."

The old woman looked up once more at the building before shutting the door, knowing they would never have a garden again.

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