Once upon a time there was a young man who lived in the heart of a dirty, noisy city. From the doorway of his house he looked over the broken fence to the grimy, blackened bricks of the houses beyond, where dingy curtains hung limply from the lifeless windows. Rusty tin cans and broken glass littered the pathways where weeds and deadened clumps of grass were matted together.
Indeed, when he gazed at his own garden it looked much the same and he felt so dissatisfied with life that he decided he would go far away in order to find something better. Suddenly, as he looked down, a patch of something white caught his eye. As he bent to look more closely he saw a delicately quivering flower which somehow bravely held its petals towards the sunshine. Twisted tendrils coiled about its stem and held it in an unyielding grip. It was all so entangled and neglected that the young man, on seeing the tenacious little flower, thrusting courageously through the choking mass of weeds, decided to clear a patch of the earth around it. It reminded him of a flower he had seen when he was a child.
As he worked and cleared away the weeds the flower seemed to have room to breathe and graciously wave it leaves in the new found space. After watering the flower he resolved to work again the following day.
As each day passed the young man worked in the garden. He cleared all the weeds and was amazed to see how spacious the garden appeared, and that also there were several other beautiful plants which he had not noticed before because of the weeds.
The hard, dry, lifeless ground was carefully dug over and watered. Stones and thorns were removed until it was beautifully rich and alive and ready to be planted.
The young man had begun to study plants and trees and he chose only the most wonderfully formed of these to plant in his garden, together with seeds of the most exquisite flowers.
Days and weeks passed and the young man devotedly watered and weeded his newly planted garden, and after a time seedlings grew into sturdy bushes with glossy leaves and fragrant buds. Delicately scented honeysuckle and deeply perfumed roses began to trail in wonderful waving trusses around the fence. He enjoyed being in his garden more and more.
Very soon he created a beautiful fountain and would listen to its sparkling tinkling melody as he lay contentedly on the soft carpet of grass and gazed up at he blue sky. He was happy now and no longer thought of going away.
He noticed that he felt more alive than ever before and he thought that it must have something to do with his beautiful garden. He read the words of great poets and softly breathed the flowing rhythm of their lines as he walked in the garden at sunset. He felt at peace and truly happy to be alive.
One evening at dusk as he quietly enjoyed the end of the day as it melted into the stillness of evening, he began to feel something strangely beautiful. For a moment he felt himself to be the floating clouds high above, he felt himself inside the vibrant chirping of the birds close by, and he felt himself to be the very wafting air which softly blew around.
When the next day dawned the young man realised again how happy he was. As he looked out of his window to the houses beyond his lovely garden, he noticed that they no longer seemed as before. Other gardens appeared more carefully tended and the rusty tin cans had gone. People were moving busily about enjoying themselves in conversation as they clipped hedges and swept paths.
People from far away heard about the gardens in his street and came to visit them. Everyone said how beautiful they were and how happy it made them feel to be there and how they wished they could stay for ever.
Time passed and one day the young man noticed the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen visiting the gardens in the street. He seemed to somehow know her as he watched her gracefully moving amongst the flowers, as her hair dazzled brilliantly in the golden sunlight. As she turned to look at him he felt a flash of light and for a moment he and the girl seemed to be wrapped in a blaze of shimmering light. After a while the young man caught his breath. The beautiful girl was still there before him, and as he cast his gaze around the gardens he noticed that everything seemed somehow much brighter than before. The trees with their leaves seemed to be vibrating with light, the petals of the flowers were shimmering and sparkling, and to his amazement he noticed that an old rusty can that has somehow been left in a corner also seemed wonderfully beautiful as it also shone with light.
Soon the young man and the beautiful girl married and continue to work in their garden and enjoy the happiness that had now spread not only from their street, but to the whole city.
After some time another young man from a city far away called at the young man’s house. “I have come to visit you because life here in your city seems to be so happy and beautiful. Life in my city is so very noisy and dirty and I knew I had to leave it to find somewhere better.”
The young man and his wife invited the stranger to stay with them in their house where they lived happily together for a while.
As time went by it was said that the stranger returned to his city where people noticed that he too began to make a beautiful garden….