Master’s Garden

Written by Jenny Carney

A sudden downpour forced a Robin to seek refuge beneath a rose bush.
“Hello Robin,” said the Rose cheerfully.
“May I wait out the rain with you?” asked the timid bird.
“Why certainly, but it will cost you a song,” teased the Rose.
The Robin’s surprised look made the Rose laugh, a wonderful, sweet laugh, or so thought the Robin.
“I am only teasing,” said the Rose, “but if you don’t mind I will sing for you.”
The Robin was captivated and thought, “A singing Rose, how wonderful, how beautiful.”
She was indeed beautiful, with large pink blooms and deep green leaves.
“Please sing,” said the enthusiastic Robin.
So she sang with a soft sweet voice that soothed the Robin. He felt he could listen to her forever.
After several songs, she surprised him by asking, “What’s it like to fly?”
“It’s amazing. A quick run and a flap of the wings and the wind picks you up and then you’re floating. High in the sky, you can see for miles.”
“Have you been beyond the garden’s hedges?”
“Oh, course,” came his proud reply.
“What lies beyond, then?”
“Everything imaginable. Strange creatures, plants of all kinds, villages and towns and…”
They talked long after the rain had stopped, until the sun had set.
The Robin promised to return the next day, which he did and many days after that.
Each day they spent together was filled with laughter and song.
The Robin spoke of his adventures beyond the hedges.
The Rose talked of the kind Master who tended the garden.
Best of all, she sang for the Robin.
How he loved the sound of her voice, how he longed to meet the kind Master!

The Master was passing by the Rose one day, when she called to him, “Master, this is my friend Robin.”
“Hello, little one,” said the Master in a gentle voice, “as a friend of the Rose, you are my friend too, and always welcome in the garden.”
The Robin flushed and thanked him.
From that day, the Master would often join the two friends in the garden where they would spend the afternoons talking and laughing.
“I must leave you my friends for a short time,” said the Master one day.
“Will you take care of each other in my absence?”
Both promised wholeheartedly. Once the Master left the garden, a change could be felt, like a chill on a damp day.
Then strange things began to happen. First caterpillars attacked the Rose.
If not for the Robin’s help, they would have surely eaten every last leaf.
A cat mysteriously appeared within the garden and tried to catch the poor Robin.
Each time the Robin managed to evade his pursuer by seeking shelter within the Rose’s tangle of thick branches.
After each incident, the friends would agree how precious each was to the other and how fortunate they were to have each other’s protection and help.
Time seemed to pass quickly, yet the Master did not return.
As the days began to shorten, the Rose grew tired, and her colour began to fade.
At first, the Robin did not notice.
To him, she seemed as colourful as the first day he sought shelter amongst her leaves from the heavy rain.
But, a blight had worked its way within his beloved Rose.
She worsened with each passing day; the changes were become harder for the Robin to ignore.
He could not tell what affected his Rose, only something was different.
“Sing for me, please,” he asked her.
“No, I don’t want to,” snapped the Rose.
“Is something wrong,” ventured the Robin, knowing full well that something was wrong and desperate to help her.
“You don’t seem yourself.”
“No, of course not! There is nothing wrong with me,” defended the Rose.
She didn’t’ want to admit to herself or to the Robin, that something might be wrong.
But, she knew her colour was fading, only she did not know why or how to stop it.
“I don’t mean to upset you, it’s just…you seem different,” said the Robin.
“Well, you have. Besides you’re the one who’s different. I mean, who ever heard of a bird talking to a flower. Find somewhere else to go.” The Rose replied angrily.
With that, the Robin flew away.

He began spending less time with the Rose, and more time with his new friends, the Starlings.
They were much more fun than the Rose was at present.
His visits to the Rose shortened, as she grew more impatient, more demanding.
Her leaves had yellowed and her petals were dropping.
Although she looked forward to the Robin’s visits, she did not admit this to him.
Quite the opposite, she would no longer sing for him.
The Robin felt unloved by the Rose.
He confided to his Starling friends how he missed the Old Rose and their fun times, her singing.
He told them that something was wrong with her and he could not help her.
He was sure that something was wrong, or Was he?
Without the Master there for guidance, he asked the Starlings, who seemed older and wiser than he did, what he should do.
“Leave her,” said one, “you don’t deserve that.”
“All roses are like that, you just haven’t noticed,” said another.
“Why bother worrying about some stupid flower when you have us? Are we not fun?” said a third.
The Robin thought his new friends must be right.
They spoke with such confidence.
But, he could not forget the promise he had given to the Master or his love for the Rose.
He visited the Rose once more, hoping that she was somehow herself again.
The Rose was trying to be cheerful when she saw the Robin.
But, her cheerful “Hello” had a false ring, even to her ears.
“What’s wrong?” asked the Robin.
This question frightened the Rose because she knew something was wrong, but she didn’t know what or how to fix it.
In her fear and frustration, she began to shake with her whole body and cried to the Robin “I don’t know what’s wrong. Leave me alone!”
Her shaking knocked the Robin from his perch and he landed on one of her now sharp, thorns.
“Ouch!” winced the Robin.
He shot the Rose a pained look and flew away.
“What have I done?” whispered the Rose.

A sad sight greeted the Master upon his return.
His beautiful Rose was almost lifeless and his dear Robin was gone.
“What has happened?” he asked the Rose.
“I have hurt my precious Robin and he will not come back,” said the Rose.
“I have called to him repeatedly but now I am too weak to call. It is better he stays away. Look at my ugliness, I have nothing to offer him.”
The Master looked at the bush, empty of flowers. “Oh, my poor Rose. You are ill. Trust in me, and I will make you well. Your Robin, he has not forgotten you.”
Exhausted, the Rose turned herself over to the Master’s tender care.
First, he gently pruned away the dead branches.
The Rose took comfort in the Master’s soothing touch.
He treated her with medicines and she slowly regained her strength.
Her blooms had returned.
She began to sing again, first in a whisper then louder.
She sang for her Robin, how sorry she was for hurting him, how she missed and loved him.
Still, he did not come.

The Robin had sought comfort with his friends.
The thorn had hurt the Robin, leaving a cut in his foot that would not heal.
At first, the Starlings distracted him from his pain, his thoughts of the Rose.
The pain grew worse and he tired of the Starlings antics.
They also tired of the Robin who no longer wanted to play.
They left the Robin to seek more entertaining company.
Although lonely, the Robin would not return to the garden.
His pain had made him fearful.
The Rose’s song came dimly to his ears but he would not listen. ”
The Rose, she is responsible for my pain. It is her fault that I suffer,” thought the Robin.

“Although I sing everyday, the Robin will not come to me. Perhaps he has forgotten me and the garden?” said the Rose.
“I have seen our Robin just beyond the hedges. He is unwell. His wound is deep and has made him fearful. I have tried to coax him to me with food. We must keep trying Rose, to bring our Robin home. Without proper care he surely will die,” said the Master.
“What can we do?” she asked.
“We must hope that the Robin will return to us, never lose hope. Keep singing and I will add my voice to yours. We must continue to love our Robin and do all that we can to make him feel safe and welcome in the garden.”
“He cannot hear my songs, Master,” came the sad reply.
“Have faith that his heart hears your songs,” said the Master.
So day and night the Rose sang, hoping that the Robin would return to the garden.
The Master continued to put out food and spoke to the Robin kindly.
“Robin,” he said, “please do not be afraid. I am your friend. Remember how loved and safe you felt perched on my hand? Please come to me and I will heal your wounds.”
The Robin could hear the Master’s voice from his perch beyond the hedges.
Although he found the voice soothing, he would not come.
Days passed, with the Master patiently asking the Robin, and the Rose softly singing, always hoping.
Finally, the Robin perched quickly on the Master’s outstretched hand for an instant, then was gone.
He perched long enough to feel the Master’s cool skin sooth his burning wound.
The next day, he perched longer.
By the week’s end, he was resting within the Master’s palm, listening to his words.
“O Little Robin, how you have suffered,” said the Master seeing the open red sore on the bird’s foot. “Please let me heal you of your pain”.
“Yes, Master. I cannot bear the pain on my own any longer,” came the weak reply.
So the Master took the poor Robin indoors and cleaned and dressed the wound.
He nestled him within a box lined with soft wool and let him rest.
It took a long time for the wound to heal completely.
Everyday the Rose would ask the Master how her Robin was doing.
“Please tell him I am sorry and that I miss him,” she would say.
The Robin did not want to hear of the Rose nor did he want to see her.
He did not forgive her, yet he told the Master, “Tell the Rose although I will not see her, I have forgiven her.”
“Oh, dear Robin,” began the Master, “your words speak of forgiveness yet your heart still fears her. I see how it pains your heart to keep away from your Rose. Take courage. Do not let fear keep you from your love.”
The Master’s words affected the Robin. He knew their truth, but his fear was strong. What should he do? He remembered her cold words and sharp thorn, yet his heart ached for her laughter, her song.
The little bird’s eyes filled with tears. He did miss his Rose.

It was raining when the Robin reached the Rose.
With all his courage, he asked “May I wait out the rain with you?”
“It will cost you a song,” replied the Rose.
Then the two friends laughed.
“I love you, dear Robin.”
“I love you, too, my Rose”.

To handle yourself, use your head;
To handle others, use your heart.
He, who loses money, loses much;
He, who loses a friend, loses much more;
He, who loses faith, loses all.

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