Posted by: Phoebe | December 26, 2009

A Parable of Friendship

This parable has to do with the hopes and expectations we can build upon a friendship. There is an opportunity to reap something good even when the results of friendship-growing are different than what we had hoped. I dedicate it to my friends S, P, N, and myself.

 A Parable of Friendship

Once upon a time there was a man. He gardened, but not in the ordinary sense. Someone else laid out the plots of earth and planted the seeds. His job was to tend the plots and enjoy what grew there. Eventually, he would share the fruit of his labor with the owner of the plot.

The man had only recently begun tending plots in this manner. He had tended others in the past, freely and sometimes carelessly tending them and freely enjoying the vegetables and fruit. He smiled when some of the plants continued to spring up year after year, and sadly patted down the ones that grew for a season but then passed away.

 But this time he had hopes. He hoped that this time the owner had planted the seeds of the sweet perennial shrubs of roses and lilacs. Day by day, he looked at the plot, waiting for something to grow. He didn’t tend it every day, but every so often he would sprinkle some water and a handful of mulch. He kept an eye out for weeds, but there didn’t seem to be too many. He could smell the roses and lilacs. He could feel the strong stem of the lilacs and their enveloping perfume. And even though he knew roses had thorns, in his imagination it was easy to turn aside the thorns of the roses in order to rejoice in the sweetness.


Slowly he saw shoots coming from the earth. He didn’t know what it was yet. He took a break and came back in a few days. Looking at the tender shoots, he eagerly knelt and whispered to the winds and the plants “please be roses and lilacs!”  He went home, to wait and hope. As he was gone, rain fell from heaven and God gave an increase.

In a few more days he came back again. But what was there? Greenleaf lettuce, crunchy carrots, juicy tomatoes, and pragmatic cabbage intermingled with a few patches of basil. The man was surprised. He mourned inside… surely his longings for roses and lilacs had counted for something … surely his loving care was not in vain. He blew his nose. After sitting for a while looking at the vegetables, he reached out, plucked a leaf of lettuce and took a tomato, and bit into them slowly. It would take adjustment to like the red of a tomato when he had been dreaming of the red of a rose. Bolstered by the energy from his gentle meal, he stood up.


Carrying his watering can, mulch, and rake, the man slowly walked to the next plot. He bent down on his knees and reached for the can and the mulch. With care he touched the earth. Who knew what was inside it? Perhaps nourishing vegetables, perhaps, just maybe, roses and lilacs. He glanced over his shoulder in the general direction of the owner, who had prepared and planted the plot. Either way, he would tend this plot watchfully and keep an eye on his established vegetable gardens. Slowly and respectfully he stood up and began to mulch and water.


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