The Gardener

Once upon a time there was a plot of Land that had suffered the ravages of both Man and Nature: trash had been dumped for decades including barrels of toxic waste. Old tires languished in its slimy pond. Drought, flood and fire had decimated much of it, and brambles and weeds covered the rest. And no birds roosted in the decrepit branches of its trees.

One day the Land said to itself, “I weary of being ugly and useless to man and beast. I can no longer tolerate what I’ve become. So I’ll beseech the Master Gardener to restore the natural beauty that is uniquely mine — whatever that takes.”

And so, with this invitation, the Master Gardener began her work. “First let’s remove all the trash — the refuse of others which you have accepted as your own.” There was a lot of that! It took no small amount of time to find and remove all the trash that others had dumped throughout the Land.

The toxic waste was particularly difficult, as some of the poisons had escaped their barrels and contaminated the ground itself. There was nothing to do but excavate the soil around the barrels to remove as much of the poison as possible. Not every last bit of the poisons could be removed. But eventually what little was left no longer posed a hazard to plant or animal, and life could flourish once again on what were formerly toxic plots of earth.

Next came the areas ravaged by fire — some caused by lightning, some by careless campers, and some by arsonists. But in the end the damage was the same, and the Gardener set to work. Some trees, weakened by the fires, had become diseased and had to be removed — stumps and all. This was arduous work, and the Land winced to let go of what had once been beautiful trees. “We can’t let the diseased trees infect the rest,” said the Gardener. And so a great pyre of all the diseased trees was made in a clearing, and they were burnt, and the smoke ascended to the heavens, and the embers smoldered for many days.

Some trees and shrubs had been damaged by the fires but weren’t diseased, so the Gardener carefully pruned their dead branches, so the living ones could raise their arms to the heavens once again.

There was a stream which ran through the Land, that had been blocked and polluted by trash, toxic waste and dead trees, and as these were removed, the stream began to flow naturally again. The rain from heaven and the spring water from the heart of the earth flowing in the stream took a long time to wash away the scars of abuse the Land had suffered. Some signs of trauma — carved into the stones themselves — would never completely disappear. But every day the stream flowed a little clearer, and the happy sound of water flowing over its rocks slowly returned. And the pond, with tires and trash removed, and the natural inflow of Living Water restored, began to clear.

With the natural flow of water through the Land restored, the Gardener was able to irrigate the regions decimated by fire and drought. And planted new trees and shrubs. And so the old trees and shrubs which had been pruned, and the new ones that had been planted, gradually thrived together.

All this work took far longer and had been far more arduous than the Land could ever have imagined. And the work would never be ‘done’. But in time, birds nested in the branches of the trees once again, and fish returned to the pond, and animals made their home once again in its forests.

The Land could see the miraculous work the Gardener had done, and would be doing forever, and was grateful and at peace.