There once was a little flower shop that sat back on the edge of a long, winding road. Many souls traveled by day after day. The little flower shop, owned by a kind and gentle old man (how old no one could say for he’d been there as long as everyone and their grandfathers could remember and had always been quite old) was known far and wide for having the loveliest and sweetest smelling flowers ever to grow. People came from far and near to acquire one of these most precious of flora, and it was said that the old gentleman could pick the perfect flower for each guest with barely a glance.
There was a young man who drove past the little flower shop every day as he journeyed to find wisdom and knowledge. He would slow as he drove past, gazing into the large front window, admiring the beauty of the blossoms. “Someday,” he would say to himself, “when my pursuits are done and I have made my name, I will buy one of those prized blooms as the final sign of having reached my success.”
Several years later the young man had completed his studies and become very successful in his circles. He purchased a large estate in the country, enviable by any standard. Though he now lived quite some distance away and had no need to travel the long, winding road that held the little flower shop, he still remembered the promise he had made to himself.
One sunny afternoon, he took a leisurely trip down the long, winding road and entered the little flower shop. He was greeted warmly by the old man, “Welcome to my little shop. I have just the perfect flower for you!” As the young man looked into the sage eyes, he knew that somehow this ancient looking little fellow did know the perfect flower precisely for him.
He followed as he was led through aisle upon aisle, appearing like a rainbow of petals stretched out before them. Eventually they stopped at a small window alcove squeezed into the back corner of the store. The sun shone through so brightly it was as if all the heavenly realm had chosen this one tiny spot to cast all its glory. The young man found himself blinded by the brightness of the glow.
When the man’s sight had cleared, he found that his speech was now lost. Sitting in the alcove before him, bathed in the glistening sun, was without a doubt the most beautiful flower he had ever seen! Quite possibly the most beautiful ANYTHING he had ever seen! He wanted to say it was pink, but that wasn’t quite right. But sort of it was purple, but, no. Still, there was gold… He’d simply never seen anything like it!And the fragrance, oh the fragrance! It was intoxicating! If ever there was a scent made just for him, just to bring him pleasure and joy, just to bring peace to his heart, this was it! How? How did the old man know? Out of the thousands of flowers in this shop, how did he know that this was his flower?
“I’ll take it!” the young man screeched out, when finally he found his voice. “What is the price? I’ll pay any price!”
The old man tenderly lifted the planter that held the delicate bloom. “There is no charge. The flower is a gift. My gift to you. BUT, these flowers are like my children and are very precious. You must follow my exact instructions to take care of them if you want them to blossom, grow and continue to give their sweet fragrance.”
The man was awestruck! “Thank you so much, kind sir! This is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I have long dreamed of having one of your flowers and now you’ve gifted me one! Anything… anything you ask me to do, I will do it! I will love this flower with all my heart and give it the greatest care. Just tell me what I must do!”
The old gentleman nodded and began to recite his instructions. “You must keep her in the most honored place where the sun shines its brightest, so that she will be embraced in it’s warmth as if in the shelter of loving arms.
You must feed her and water her every morning with the purest of water and most nutritious of food so that she knows she is nourished, nurtured and cared for.
And every morning when you wake and every night before you sleep, you must hold her gently as I am now and speak softly to her. This way she can connect to your touch and grow to the sound of your voice.
If you do these things, just as I have told you, she will forever grow and blossom and give you her sweet fragrance.”
The young man promised that he would follow each instruction exactly as he was told, took his treasured flower and traveled back to his home in the country.
Day after day the man cared for his precious flower, following each instruction just as the old man had told him. He found the largest, most prominent window in his home to display his lovely bloom. He spared no expense on the finest food and the clearest, purest water for her. Each morning and evening he gently held her and talked to her about his day, his hopes and his dreams.
She grew more beautiful each day, new blossoms appearing with each sunrise. Her fragrance became more and more intoxicating. To everyone who would listen he would boast of his exquisite flower and what a blessed man he was to have received such a rare and lovely gift.
But, as they say, life goes on. One afternoon he waited impatiently for a delayed business associate to arrive at his home. He couldn’t quite see clearly out the big window, so he moved the flower to another, smaller window. “I’ll move her back after my colleague has arrived,” he told himself. He never did.
He was shopping for her food and water and it caught his eye that other men were buying supplies much less costly for their flowers. “What would it hurt to save a little money?” he thought. “I’m sure this is just as good, and I’m just being prudent.” So, he bought the less costly food for his little flower.
Several mornings later he woke late and was feeling especially out of sorts. He knew he needed to hold and talk to his little flower, but he reasoned to himself that he would talk longer that evening and rushed out the door to work. That evening he was still out of sorts and tired from his long work day, mindlessly he used the entertainment box for several hours and crawled into bed. Not a word was said to his prized treasure.
Soon these small slips turned into days, then weeks, then months. One morning the man came downstairs and noticed there was something different about his home. The smell…where was his lovely fragrance? It seemed to have suddenly disappeared. This disturbed the man greatly. He looked over to the small window where now the little flower sat. Little indeed, for she seemingly shrank overnight. Dead petals and leaves lay all around the bottom of her pot! “What is this?!” he roared. “Is my maid slacking off? I’ve told her to make sure that plant is fed and watered daily! Is she speaking to it as I’ve instructed her to?!” The man was undeniably angry!
With great distress, he called the old man at the flower shop. “You promised if I followed your instructions this flower would always bloom and grow and give off her sweet fragrance. But, she is sad and lifeless and no sweetness comes from her at all!”
The old man was quiet for a moment, then spoke, “Have you followed ALL the instructions just as I told you?”
“Of course I have,” the man bellowed. “She sits in a perfectly good window. Each day my maid feeds and waters her with perfectly suitable food. And every morning when she arrives and every night before she leaves the maid speaks to her for a moment. What else could the flower want? I’ve provided for her every need.”
When finally he spoke, the old soul’s voice was barely a whisper, and only those who truly sought to hear could detect the edge in his normally gentle voice, “Indeed. Indeed you have.”
Slow to speak, the shop owner paused once again then continued. “Have no fear. I know precisely what needs to be done in this situation. Will you be in residence tomorrow, sir?” The man indicated he would not for he would be at his place of business. “No bother,” said the old man. “Leave a door for me and I promise I will do everything that needs to be done to bring the flower back to perfect health.”
The man agreed. And so it was to be.
The next evening when the man returned home from work he was filled with excitement to see what the old fellow had done to revive his once beautiful flower. Perhaps some extra water and food, perhaps a special sunlamp for her little window, or perhaps, he knew how well the flower had responded to being spoken to, perhaps he spoke to her rather sternly and told her she needed to get into shape and stop her drooping about.
But when the man approached the flower’s window, there was no bloom there.He went to the bigger window. Perhaps he had moved her, but no flower. He raced from window to window to window, and yet, no flower. The young man’s heart began to beat rapidly within him. His flower was…gone. The old man had taken his flower. When the man lifted his wilting head, he noticed a small note on her window sill. Had that been there before? How had he missed it? It was from the old gentleman. He unfolded the note slowly and read these simple words, “Those things that are precious are saved only by sacrifice.”
On a long and winding road, far away from the big country home, an old truck bounced along the bumpy road. A kind old gentleman spoke softly and lovingly to his passenger. With every word, the little flower grew taller, little buds popping out, her color growing more vibrant and beautiful with each syllable spoken. Soon a sweet, intoxicating fragrance filled the old truck. The old man looked over and smiled at his little flower. Oh how quickly a little love can bring even a dying soul back to full bloom!