I was given a beautiful garden to tend to. At first I was diligent. I trimmed the hedges and removed all the weeds. I oiled the gate and kept the grass trimmed neatly. As the worries of my other endeavors stole my attention away, I left my garden. The beautiful garden I was given began to grow out of control. The hedges lost their manicured looks and grew big and ugly. The weeds overtook the flowerbeds. The gate began to squeak and stick when I would return to my garden briefly. The grass had grown knee-high and overtook all of the benches in the garden. I would return to the garden at times. I would step through the squeaky gate. I would look at all of the work that had to be done. Instantly, the magnitude of the work to be done overwhelmed me. I thought to myself that there was too much work to be done. I didn't see how I could return my garden to the beautiful state that it had been given to me. I could have stepped in and buried myself in the work. I didn't. I allow the enormity of the task ahead to overwhelm me. I would step back through the squeaky gate and close it behind me. I left my garden to itself and everything continued to grow wildly out of control.
One day, I returned to my garden. I tried my key in the lock of the gate. The lock had been changed. I peered over the gate to see that someone had been in my garden. The hedges had been trimmed back, and reminded me of the day when I had first been entrusted with my garden. All of the weeds that had choked out the flowerbeds were gone. The gate look like it had been oiled, and the grass had been trimmed back to a neat appearance. I could once again see the benches in which I had basked in the sun and enjoyed the sweet aroma of my garden. I saw an unknown garden. He was hurrying from here to there. He had a wheelbarrow of tools. He was working diligently to bring my garden back to its original beauty. I was angry. Who was this gardener? This was my garden and how could he have come in and locked me out of my own garden. I grasped at the gate. I shook it furiously. It would not budge. The lock held fast, and I remained on the outside looking in. The gardener stopped his work. He stared at me through the wrought iron of the gate, from which I stared, and did not speak to me. I shook again at the gate, and still remained lock out of the garden that I had been given.
I made my way to the manor house. I thought I must at last speak to the man of the house. I detailed my dilemma to him. Through tears, I told him of the strange gardener that had taken over my garden. He placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. He told me not to worry. "I am still the man of the house", he said.
"I always have the last say in who will tend my gardens", he said.
He led me out another door. He led me down a small hill toward another garden. This garden was in much the same way that I had left mine. The hedges had lost their trimmed appearance, and the grass was wildly out of control.
"The gardener you see in your garden, this is his garden", he said.
"This is what I have given him to tend", he said.
"He is not much different from you", he said.
"He has let his garden fall in to disrepair the same as you have. He saw the enormity of bringing his garden back to the beauty in which it was given him, and he gave up and found another garden to tend"
"What am I to do", I said.
"I am still the man of this house. All of these gardens are mine. I alone decide who will tend my gardens. You should worry yourself. I know it is upsetting now, but in time I will set this right. I will change the locks. I will expel the gardener. I will send him back to his own garden. I will place you back into the middle of the garden that I have entrusted to your care. However, you can never allow it to fall in to disrepair again. I gave you the care of my garden, because I knew that only you would be able to extract all of the beauty that is there. I gave this particular garden to you, because no one will be better able to care for it. I gave given you all of the tools, and all of the time to tend it. If there is any thing else that you need to tend your garden, then all you must do is to ask me. I will provide it. You should always remember that these are all my gardens. You do not tend them for yourself, or for the garden themselves. You tend these gardens for me. I enjoy walking through all of my gardens and breathing in the sweet aroma of all of the beautiful flowers in them. You must never forget that when you are tending your garden that you are doing it for me, and for my pleasure. Come now to the manor house. I invite you to set in my study. I have many books that will help to teach you the best ways in which to tend your garden. Sit with me. I will help you to learn. When the time is right, then I will set all things right. I will return you to your garden. Until then, study with me and learn the mistakes you have made, and the better ways to care for your garden"
I walked back up the small hill, and back into the warm of the manor house. He led me down a long marble hallway to the study. He sat me in the beautiful room. He sat me in a leather arm-chair, and pulled one up next to me and sat himself. He pulled a large leather-bound volume from the bookshelf and began to show me the way to tend my garden. I am still sitting in this study now. I have learned so much. I am so prepared to tend my garden. He assures me that the time is not right. He lays a gentle hand on my shoulder, and shows me yet another volume. He tells me once again that one day in the future that he will change the lock and allow me back into my garden. I struggle to sit still. I want so much to jump the gate and cast out the other gardener. He whispers to me, that I am not quite ready yet. He reaches to the shelf and grabs yet another volume.
"In time", he says, "For now sit and learn from me, because I am the one who has planted all these gardens with my own hands. I was the one that maintain them in their beautiful condition. It was I who gave you that garden. It is I that will one day return it to you."