Once upon a time, long, long ago, before your great, great, great, GREAT grandparents were alive, there was a flower garden unlike any other garden ever planted. This garden had high walls, which kept it private and no one from the world of that time had ever seen it except the master gardener. If you could have peeked over the wall, you would have seen a flower garden with exceptional colored flowers, unlike any other on earth. They were pure-colored flowers, each unique and stunningly beautiful. Some were red, some blue, and some purple. Each flower was made of only one color and there were none that were the same. There was even one that was gray. Not the gray of the sky before a rain, but the gray lining of a cloud, containing the sun trying to burst through its edges.
During long pleasant days, as they waved in the breeze and drank in the sun’s heat, the flowers talked with each other about things only flowers would understand. They told pollen jokes, and compared the sweetness of their blossoms, but most of all they compared their colors. As time went on, their talk became more and more centered on the gifts of color and beauty they had each been given. Each flower was convinced that it was the most beautiful. And to be truthful, they were all right, for the gardener had made each different and beautiful in a special way.
In a far corner of the garden, a most unfortunate flower was left out of these self-centered discussions. She remembered when the gardener had walked to and fro among the flowers, throwing color from a special little bag that none of the powder had blown her way, so she remained clear as crystal, like the water in the pond. It was no wonder the other flowers had not seen or noticed her. She listened to the chatter that went on day after day and felt ashamed that she had no color to talk about. How could she enter into their conversation, since her pollen was clear, her petals were faint, and her fragrance was weak and light, wafting away in the wind?
One day, listening to the steady bickering between a purple daisy and a yellow skunk cabbage, she could be quiet no longer. “Stop! Stop!” cried little Transparent. The garden became quiet, as all the flowers looked around to see who had cried out in a voice they hadn’t heard before. After looking carefully, a blue violet, with sharp eyes shrieked, “It’s a freak! Look, look, a freak! She has no color. Maybe it’s catching. Maybe we’ll all get it and loose our color.” Such a bedlam arose that Little Transparent folded up her petals tight around her head. A sharp looking thistle nearby gave her a hurtful jab. “Where did you come from?” yelled a poppy. Poppies were noisy and pesky and loved yelling and raising a ruckus. Still wincing from the thistle jab, Transparent unfolded her petals and said, “Like you, I’ve been here from the beginning, but the master gardener must have forgot to give me color. You are all so beautiful. Maybe you could share some of your color with me.”
“Are you crazy?” snapped an orange gladiola. “If we did that, our color might be washed out and we’d end up as pastels instead of the rich wonderful hues we are. No, ma’am! You can’t have any of my color.”
The other flowers were quick to agree. They all turned their backs on little Transparent before any other silly requests could be made. Transparent was deeply hurt and cried quite a few crystalline tears before she fell asleep in the evening breeze. That night she dreamed of asking the master gardener why he had forgotten to give her color, but just as he began to answer, she woke up.
As the days went by, little Transparent was not able to make a single friend. She was lonely and very sad. She kept quiet and soon the other flowers paid no attention to her and forgot all about her. They spent their days bickering and absorbed in petty arguments. Alone and forgotten, Transparent wondered why the gardener had never come back to see the garden he had planted. She wished he would come and bring his special bag of color with him. Maybe he could change her to be colorful, although she didn’t want to have color if it meant she would become bad-tempered, like the other flowers, which seemed to result from their self-centered beauty.
One day a strong wind blew in from the north and was so strong that the flowers had to dig in with their roots to keep from being plucked from the ground. In their short lives, the days had always been pleasant and wind was something the flowers had never seen before. The wind blew and blew, and the wind created quite a fright among the flowers. The wind blew so hard that the garden gate blew open and rested against the garden wall. The flowers held on tight and were maybe a little ruffled, but none the worse because of it.
The next day was a beautiful day with a blue, blue sky and a stillness that allowed the flowers to broadcast their scents in clouds of perfumed fragrance. And oh, the comparing and bickering that exploded, as each flower attempted to have its scent overwhelm its neighbor’s. So busy were they with their arguing, they didn’t notice when a group of children wandered into the garden. Remember, this was the only garden where pure colored flowers such as these were planted. The children had never seen such beautiful flowers or smelled such wonderful fragrances. They were so excited that each one picked and picked, making bouquets to take home to their parents. The flowers were horrified and yelled for the children to stop. But the children didn’t understand or even hear the whispers of the flower voices which, to them, sounded like the soft spring breeze. Soon, every flower was picked and gathered, except for one. Clenched in chubby little fists, off the flowers went out the gate and to who knows where in the world outside the garden wall. After they left, a wind came up and slammed the little gate, leaving the garden quiet and empty. There was only one little voice still crying in the garden, saying, “Wait for me, wait for me, pick me; don’t leave me!” But no one was there to hear. It was, of course, little Transparent who, being so frail and clear, had gone unnoticed by the children.
Transparent had not enjoyed the bickering and arguing while the flowers had been there, but even though they weren’t pleasant companions, she had enjoyed their senseless chatter. It is sad to say, but even unpleasant companions are better than no companions. Now that it was quiet, she missed them and wished they were back. Her hope of better days had left with the flowers. Little Transparent had a lot of time to think in the quiet of the garden. The plants and bushes, which had produced the flowers, remained lush and green but they couldn’t talk. They sometimes seemed to whisper in the breeze, and Transparent tried to catch what they were saying. . . But, it was only her imagination.
Early one still morning, she became aware of her own fragrance, since it was no longer overwhelmed by the other flowers. Into her little flower head an idea sprouted. “Maybe her pollen could pollinate.” Using the example of the master gardener, and how he had thrown powder from his special little bag, Transparent began blowing her pollen to various parts of the garden. As she went about her work, Transparent noticed that she was getting weaker. Through her weakness, she came to realize that her pollen must be her lifeblood and that if she gave it all away, she wouldn’t have any life left. But the thought of giving life to all of the flowers again and letting the plants have a second chance was such a happy thought, that she couldn’t stop. Finally as she blew her last breath of pollen to the farthest corner of the garden and pollinated the last little bush, her little petals drooped and she wilted in a little crystal heap. Her energy had been spent helping the flowerless plants and bushes.
As soon as her crystal petals folded in the dirt, the master gardener walked in through the gate. “Well, she finally did it,” he remarked, more to himself since there was no one there to listen. Now he set to work, pruning each plant and as he turned the soil and fertilized the roots, buds began to form. The buds didn’t take long to open into flowers, and such beautiful flowers they were. The colors weren’t as bright, as the original flowers had boasted and quibbled over, but they had a fragile transparent beauty about them, which gave them a gentler nature. They talked between themselves in quiet voices, and the whole garden was alive with cheerful chatter.
When all of the flowers had finally opened, the gardener tapped his hoe on the ground to get their attention. They turned their petals towards him to listen as he spoke. His voice was gentle and deep and warmed then to their roots. “Flowers,” he began, “Do you know why you are here?” “Because you gave us life,” they all answered. “That’s partly true,” the master gardener said. “But that life was made possible by one flower which was unloved, except by me, although she was not aware of my love for her. Her name was Little Transparent and I planted her here, as the only pure flower in the garden. The former flowers would have flourished if they had realized that Transparent was the key to life in this garden. But they were too selfish and self-centered to find out. They never shared their color with her, even though she would have been happy to share her pollen with them. And so their lives came to an end. Transparent had loved the unlovable flowers and after they were taken, she shared her life with each one of your plants, giving new life, so you have blossomed anew. But look! Transparent’s little plant is still here, but there is no flower on it. Who will offer some pollen to give Transparent new life?” There was no hesitation. Flowers from all corners of the garden said, “We all want to!”
And they did. Each one blew some of its pollen on to Little Transparent’s plant. Watching the flowers sharing, the master gardener smiled and worked his hoe in the rich earth around the little plant and fertilized the soil with special care. The sun shone and Transparent’s plant grew lush. In a twinkling, a beautiful flower, like no other, grew up from its center. As it opened, the flowers of the garden gasped in amazement, because this special flower beamed forth with all the colors of the rainbow shining from its petals. Not one flower since has ever boasted of its beauty, but all remain content with their own individual nature and delicate pattern.
Little Transparent was never lonely again. In fact the master gardener took her home and planted her in a garden next to his house. She finally understood that there had been a plan for her all along. The master gardener had not forgotten her color. He had always been watching over her, and had used her as an instrument to make the other flowers loving and content.
What do you think happened to these other flowers in the garden? That’s part of this story. Every so often the master gardener would come and dig up a few select flowers to take home to his own garden. Transparent at last had friends and she enjoyed talking with these newborn flowers who cared about each other and didn’t talk just of themselves. The flowers, which remained, were content in their sheltered walls and lived happily until the end of summer and they experienced their first season. Then, they wilted and fell off. The plants slept peacefully through the winter and like waking from a nap each spring, new flowers budded, and bloomed, and enjoyed another beautiful spring and summer. Flowers today have a fragile transparent nature about them, a reminder to us of a flower long ago, transparent as glass, which saved the whole garden by an act of love.
Who knows, the flowers you enjoy today may be descendants of seeds that blew over the wall from that special flower garden. There are many other stories about the time when the world was young, which would captivate anyone who wants to listen, but those are for another time. There is also a story about the work our heavenly Master Gardener did in the world of men, to show His love for them, when they were selfish and thought only of themselves, much like the flowers. But that is another story entirely.
And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Luke 9:23 (KJV)
Little Transparent was willing to give of herself unselfishly so that the other flowers could live. Even though Transparent had never met the Master Gardner, He had given her a conscience to live by. Choosing to give herself for others was following the Master Gardener’s plan for her. Her following what was naturally in her heart is an example of what is called “general revelation”. This means that God has revealed himself to all people, even if they have never heard the name of Jesus. Their conscience or that voice that is inside of them, telling what is right or wrong, guides them through life. Those people who choose to listen to the voice of their conscience will be taken home to live with the Master Gardener some day. Those who don’t, have chosen to live outside His house. Those of us who have heard of Jesus and His love for us have been given “special revelation”.
Jesus, when He was here on the earth was never selfish and even though He was God’s Son, He always thought about others before himself. Even though He didn’t want to go to die on the cross, He did it because His Father asked Him to and Jesus knew that it was the only way that we would ever be able to come and live with Him and His Father. In Philippians 2:3b God tells us “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (KJV). In other words God asks us to think about others before we think of ourselves. Another way of looking at this is when we and our brother or sister both want to play with the same toy; think that Jesus would be willing to give up playing with that toy for the happiness of our brother or sister. We can practice being like Jesus and live as He commanded just by giving up little things like letting others play with our toys. If we learn to live like this when we are young, God guarantees it will be easier for us to listen to Him, as we get older. You know why? Because we will be in good practice at listening and obeying Him. We will have learned to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, God’s Guide for us. It is important to learn to hear Him speak to us and obey as early as possible. Our lives will be filled with joy if these simple lessons are learned day by day as we grow up. God loves us and writes these things to help us grow closer to Him. Someday, He will take us home to live with Him, just as the master gardener took Little Transparent home to live with him. And the Bible tells us that Jesus house is going to be an exciting and wonderful place to live in.