Sunday, June 24, 2007


I closed my eyes and smiled as I felt my skin grow warm under the gentle rays of the afternoon sun. I tried to ignore the crunch of the gravel under the feet of people passing by. I struggled to keep my eyes shut, in spite of my preoccupation with matching sound and sight. This task was even greater when voices became involved. I had come here to get away from voices, from the world outside. The arboretum offered a nearby retreat from the clamor of coworkers and commutes. Here, I wasn’t forced to listen to the daily dramas of the office. Here, I was free to tune out, but my mind shackled itself with its desire to observe my surroundings. This became especially apparent as I heard the voice of a young boy proclaim, agitatedly, “Come oooonnnnnn!”

I opened my eyes to see a boy of about 7 or 8 standing with his hands on his hips, frowning at an older man whom I guessed to be his grandfather. The boy’s auburn hair glistened in the sunlight and his blue eyes squinted against its brightness. The older man had stopped their escapade when his attention was drawn to a small, solitary purple bud, still tightly closed. The man wore a faded pair of denim overalls and an ageless grin. I could not help but smile at the irony of his youthful fascination juxtaposed with the impatience of the young boy. I watched as the boy’s frown grew more and more imbedded in his chubby chin. By this point the man’s nose was nearly touching the center of the Jiffy Pop-like flower. Still intent on the flower, he took a deep breath in and with a growing smile and a deep voice he asked the boy to join him in his scrutiny. Reluctantly, the boy obeyed. The movement of his rolling eyes revealed his disdain. He inched closer to the old man.

I closed my eyes, as intent on dodging distraction as the old man was on studying his flower. As he began telling the little boy about the legend of the flower bud, I was secretly glad that I was unsuccessful at this. I was reminded of the years I spent listening to my own grandfather spinning tall tales, gratifying my gullibility. He always seemed so convinced that his stories were true, and the old man’s melodic voice seemed just as convinced that his own story was true. Slowly both the boy and I let go of our distress and dove into the fable,

“Once upon a time in a land far away the great Creator crafted the first flower. Speculation has it that this flower was striking in its formation and massive in its proportions. It was this flower, once finished, that inspired the Creator to mold the rest of our planet, beginning with a garden oasis that would become home to the first human civilization. Though it is still in existence its whereabouts has been unknown for centuries. It is believed that flowers of nearly every color under the sun painted the ground with their beauty. Peaches that reflected the summer sunrise and blues the shade of twilight, and the sweet aroma of their perfume could be detected for miles. Massive trees creaked as the wind urged them to shift, their shadows slowly sweeping from side to side. Fruit trees and vines provided for the inhabitants in abundance and the soil carpeted the ground with the softness of velvet. The first inhabitants of this lush landscape loved their home dearly, but they sought to venture forth and leave this haven, their curiosity urging them to see what existed beyond its bounds. But, in their ignorance, they made no attempt to remember how to get back. As punishment for being unappreciative and taking what they had for granted, the Creator impaired their memories and kept them from ever finding their way back.

“The Creator did, however, season their new land with pieces of their original home; reminders of the goodness of the Creator who still wanted them to experience the beauty of creation. These gifts were also given as a somber reminder of what they had done and their lack of gratitude, so that they would not make the same mistake again. The Creator also tucked an even greater reminder of their first home within each flower that graced the globe. Within the petals of an unopened bud hides a glimpse of the garden itself. But, once the bud opens the vision dissipates. If anyone finds a way to behold the image held inside a tightly closed bud they will gain the ability to find their way back to the garden. It is said that we are all connected to one another, in this age and from ages past, and we all carry a deep longing for the life that one existed. A single glimpse has the power to carry us back to the lush beauty and peace that was intended for us.”

I opened my eyes and watched the little boy as he struggled with fervor to peak inside the flower that had captivated the old man’s attention, as if it were a panoramic Easter egg. The story had peeled away the layers of his contempt. While fascinated by the imagery of the old man’s tale, my heart found itself more inclined to entertain the precepts of the story. How often do I flee from issues in my life, ungrateful for the beauty that surrounds me? So quick am I to judge things as negative that I miss the magnificent hidden within the mundane. How slow am I to embrace gratitude for the splendors and wonders woven throughout my life? How much have I missed because I have neglected to peer into the depths of my existence? If I did, I wonder just what secrets I would reveal.