Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tales for the journey: Sam's Garden (Healing negativity)

Sam lived in a little house that was small, but all his own. Every day the sun shone in at the window, but the glass was so dusty he could hardly see out. He didn’t care, because as long as he had his fiddle he could play until his heart raced with pleasure and longing for something he couldn’t quite understand.

Sam woke up one day and saw that his garden was unkempt. “I have neglected my garden. I really should do something about it,” he said. He went out into the garden and he saw the bindweed and the lawn rough and un-mown.
He asked his father to help him. He said, "My son, when you were young I tried to tell you how to make your garden grow, but you did not listen. You must do this yourself. I can lend you some tools if you like.”

So Sam went home that day with a spade and hoe. Sam pulled at the bindweed until great swathes of it lay on the ground beside him. He cut and pruned and hacked until the garden was piled high with rubbish. “Now the place looks even worse!” he cried. “How can I get rid of this rubbish?”

His neighbour Dick called over the wall. “Let’s have a bonfire!” shouted Dick, and in a trice the weeds and twigs and brambles were burning and smoking and sparks were blowing high into the sky. Sam took out his fiddle and played until the mess in the garden was forgotten.
Weeks went by and the garden was just as he had left it. The spade and the hoe were left out in the rain. Already rusty, they rusted still more.

A certain tune began to hum inside his head. It lay at the side of his mind just out of reach. He paced the floor and wondered what the tune was, what it meant, but it would not come to him.

 He played his fiddle until the strings broke and he could play no longer. He took his fiddle to be mended by a wise old man. “This fiddle has been used too much,” the old man said. “You must not play it so much or it will become unplayable.”

The thought of not playing frightened him. When he didn’t play, the days were long and lonely and there was no happiness for him. Only when he took up his fiddle did he feel eternal joy, but still there was that elusive tune in his head.

Months went by. Sam was filled with regret that he had failed to look after his garden. Even the fiddle did not fill him with pleasure any more but he kept on playing to forget the wonderful tune he longed to be able to hear.
Eventually he hired a gardener. The garden was clear, and although it looked bare it was tidier. Now Sam could look out of the window and think about the flowers he would plant in the spring. The gardener had to leave but Sam knew he could do it; the worst of the work was done and he could manage it alone now. But the weeds grew so high he could not clear them as fast as they could grow. Eventually he sat inside the house and dreamed and felt the shame of the wasted years. He was alone.
Then one day the Wise Man who mended his fiddle said: “I know a friend with a wonderful pond of sweet water that is as still as glass and deeper than anyone can imagine. He says that when you can see yourself in the sweet water, you will be given your heart’s desire.”
Sam went to see the pond, and he looked into it and saw nothing but brown, stagnant water. The kind friend looked at Sam with eyes that knew him and cared for him and all at once Sam realised that he had always been alone. But now his kind friend was with him and sometimes he had the strength to go out into the garden.
He saw clearly for the first time how it was laid out, with flowerbeds and vegetable plots and a sweeping wide lawn. Week by week he described the garden to his kind friend but there was no advice. Sam grew angry.
“Why won’t you help me?” he cried.
“What you want?” The quiet voice asked.

Sam found himself saying: “ I want to grow Roses.” What? He had never been interested in roses! Why on earth did he say that?

And he did. He cleared the garden and learned that weeds were food for the roses, if he made a compost heap. The weeds rotted away, giving out a rich, earthy smell. Sam made a big bonfire. As the smoke curled upwards he said his good-byes to the old garden. All he hoped for, all he lived for now, were the roses. His fiddle was forgotten, as he went out into the garden each day. He held a party to celebrate when the first white rose opened its tiny bud to the sun. The sun shone, people laughed and the yearning for the tune was forgotten.

Everyone left and Sam was alone staring at his precious rose bud. Then he began to feel sadness so deep it filled Sam until his body was saturated with it. Gradually, as the dawn began to break, there was a whisper of something new in the sadness. There was a fragment of a tune that felt strange, and yet familiar.

Sam lay in his bed filled with a dull ache of sadness, yet with a strange relief, as if he had passed through a place that he would not have to visit again. He went to see the kind friend, and told him about the rose opening and the sadness. He wept silently there by the still water of the pond while the kind friend waited.

At last Sam was able to speak what was in his heart. It made him feel shaky and uncertain, but as the words came, one by one Sam knew then that he had never wanted anything so much in his life. He knew now what he wanted.

“How can I hear the music?” said Sam
“Have you tried listening for it?” asked the kind friend. “Let’s listen and see if we can hear it.”
And there in a silence that didn’t feel so lonely because the friend was there with him, Sam was at last able to hear fragments of the tune that was familiar and yet so new it was fresh and uplifting: -but it would not stay.

Sam had learned to listen for it in the silent place inside himself. He had learned how to hear his heart’s desire. He put his fiddle away in its box and went out into the garden. He spread compost on the roses. As more blooms opened he invited people in to see them. Yet even when people were there, he longed for the quiet and silence, because he was gradually discovering more and more of the wonderful tune that brought joy with it. It came slowly and gradually into his heart. He knew now, and had always known, that this was the symphony of himself.

Then Sam took up his fiddle and played the same symphony and it was beautiful. And children came to hear him and there was laughter, and he was able to feel joy at last, and it was a joy he had created for himself.

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