THE FLOWER LADY

One evening a workman was wearily plodding his way home when he stopped to rest by the side of the road.  A woman came by the place hauling a cart full of flowers.  The smell of her blossoms so perfumed the air with sweetness that it seemed to take away the weariness in his bones and to lighten his spirits.  He had never experienced such wonder from the many blooms of his own garden.  “How much must I pay, or what must I do, to have some of your wonderful flowers? he asked the woman.”

“Oh, good sir,” she said, “take what you wish.”

“What return must I make for them?” he questioned again.

“Your gratitude is enough,” she said.

So the man filled his arms with blossoms and hastened joyfully home.  And his wife and his children rejoiced with him over the remarkable flowers, for they, too, discovered that the sight of them was a delight and the smell of them refreshed the soul.

So as not to lose his treasure, the man planted the blossoms in a small plot of land behind his house.  Sunlight and water kept them amazingly beautiful, still performing their marvelous magic.

When children came to play in the yard, the man cautioned them against carelessness and wild play lest they trample the flowers and damage them.  But the flowers remained hardy and strong so long as there was enough sun and moisture to nourish them.  Nowhere else could the man or his wife or children find such remarkable solace from weariness, such comfort in sadness, such spiritual nourishment as those remarkable flowers provided.  Here was a treasure beyond value.

And as the family grew and more children came to play in the garden, the man became even more concerned over his remarkable flowers. He was determined to protect them, and so he built a high wall around them.  In time, because of his numerous children, he would allow them entrance to the small sanctuary only sparingly and with the utmost care.

Unfortunately, this began to cause consternation among the family members.  If the children caused their father stress or anguish, he would refuse them access to the flowers.  Eventually he set up rules as to who may enter the sanctuary, how they must enter, and what they must do while they’re in there.  For his part he continued to see that his treasure received enough sunlight and water so that the flowers continued to perform their wondrous magic.

As grandchildren began to appear, the man felt even greater need to safeguard his treasure.  Access to the flowers was open to all members of his family, but not without certain precautions. Requirements were to be met and standards upheld.  Offices were established to judge worthiness and to determine accessibility.  It became necessary to have lawyers to defend and judges to weigh and guards to safeguard and caretakers to upkeep, and on and on and on.

The man’s family, however, saw less and less of the flowers and experienced less and less of their magical powers. In the meantime, many of them went out in search of the flower lady.  Well, she was still out there, still giving away her amazing flowers.

Source | John Aurelio, Colors. Stories of the Kingdom
Also in William J. Bausch
A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories
pages 223-224

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • All gifts are freely given. We can either cling to them allowing ourselves to be possessed by our possessions or learn how to embrace them with a habitually relaxed grasp.
  • Caught off guard and distracted it is easy to lose right perspective, constricting ourselves and others with rigid rules made by well-meaning caretakers. What do you think?
  • Can it be that perhaps the official interpretation often becomes more important than the text, and the text becomes more important than the One behind it?