There once was a precocious young girl named Lissy who was determined to plant a garden as a gift for her father after seeing him admire a lush patch of blossoms that grew nearby. Indulgently, he permitted her the best of seeds as well as the space and the tools she begged of him, taking delight in his daughter’s interest and enthusiasm.
She sang merrily as she cleared the small plot of land, turned the soil then planted and watered with her own little hands the seeds that her father had given her. All the while, Lissy imagined the smile on his face when he saw the beautiful flowers that she had nurtured and grown just for his pleasure.
As the weeks went by, the seedlings sprouted and began to grow under her careful eye, thriving as much on the warmth of her affection and intent as the water and constant attention she gave. Her father’s heart swelled with pride and he smiled to himself enjoying his daughter’s happiness as she worked on her present for him. Her joy was quite contagious to all around her.
It wasn’t long before the first tender buds appeared on Lissy’s flowers and she giggled with glee as she knelt in the soil staring in awe at her handiwork. Sadly, even the most lovingly tended gardens must deal with problems every now and then; one of those problems is the occasional encroachment of wild plants.
Lissy was initially confused when something dark and low caught her eye, almost hidden by the sprouting leaves of her plants. She edged near and gasped with horror and revulsion when she saw that a weed had dared enter her pretty little garden.
Lissy lurched forward clawing at the weed, unintentionally crushing some of the delicate flower stems beneath her knees. Sitting back on her haunches with a spindly mass of dirt and weed in her fist, angry tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks onto the soil as she looked at the broken flowers before her. Once she had cried herself out, she carried herself back to the house, forgetting to water her garden. She stomped past her father without a word and headed straight to her room where she stayed all night, much to his disappointment.
The next day Lissy returned to her garden, still sullen about the weed and broken flowers, only to find that some of her lovely stems had withered in the very spot where her salty tears had dampened the earth. She flung herself to the ground, more angry than the day before, crushing yet more flowers beneath her. As she lay there weeping at her losses, she saw that there were more weeds among the base of her plantings.
Lissy crawled through and over her plants, yanking out the weeds that sprouted insistently;she paid no heed to the tiny patch of buds that had begun to open and blossom. All Lissy could see were the weeds and the flattened flower bed that lay drying beneath the hot sun without benefit of the water that Lissy forgot to bring in her distraction.
And so it went for days and weeks: Lissy would storm out to the garden ripping and yanking at the weeds, crying out at the injustice of it all, seething with anger and resentment. It seemed to her that the harder she tried to rid the garden of the encroaching weeds, the more they grew – as if the weeds thrived on her anger and tears and grew just to spite her.
Most of the plants lay as broken, dried husks, barely discernible from the gray and thirsty soil. She’d all but forgotten the flowers that she had originally envisioned and her reasons for growing the garden in the first place. In a final fit of anger, she threw down her tools and abandoned her garden, leaving it to the elements.
Lissy came to resent anything that bloomed – as if the flowers burst open in glorious colors just to mock her. Worst of all, she became bitter towards her father, blaming him for her failure; surely, if he didn’t like beautiful flowers, then she wouldn’t have tried so hard and failed. Surely, he must think less of her because of it.
She would look away when she had to walk near her garden; she felt it stood as a monument to her failure. Lissy even closed her curtains, refusing to look outside, lest she feel the sharp painful reminder of the garden she once cared for and nurtured – a loving gift for her father.
It was a dark and heavy time for Lissy and her father. It hurt him to see her so disheartened; her pain was his pain, too. It seemed her sadness and anger were as contagious as her joy had been.
That’s it. There is nothing more to the story, today.
Perhaps tomorrow Lissy will look out her window or peek as she walks by the garden; perhaps she’ll see the patch of pretty flowers growing there directly beneath her window sill.
Maybe tomorrow Lissy will come to know what her father knew all along: the soil is fertile and the seed is strong and Lissy will eventually grow an incomparable garden if she picks up the tools he gave her and tends her garden with the joy she once did. And the weeds? Well, the weeds will come uninvited. Get over it.
(Special thanks to Betsy for her eagle eye editing. It is a better story because of you.)