--Admiration in the Eyes That Matter Most--
Once, there lived a gardener. And this gardener loved growing flowers; so naturally, he had a beautiful flower garden, and people would come for miles around to see his beautiful flowers. Now this gardener grew many kinds of flowers: ordinary, as well as exotic and rare flowers graced his garden, and people would talk for days about them, and how beautiful they were. But the most beautiful flower in his entire garden grew on a vine, and that vine grew up a tall tree that happened to be there. Now this tree was very ordinary—just like any other tree anyone might see anywhere. And so the gardener chose to train his beautiful flower to grow on the tree, using its strength to grow; and this is how the pretty flower grew, until it was ready...
Now, whenever a flower was “ready”, the gardener would let people come to see it. And as this particular flower was the most beautiful, and the most rare, the people had been waiting for weeks to see it; and when the day finally came, people from far and wide came to see the amazing flower the gardener had grown. All sorts of people stood and admired the flower. They marveled at its sweetness, its purity, and its beauty.
Then one day, a little girl came with a group of people to admire the flower. The little girl looked up at the beautiful flower, growing in the arms of the tree, and stood there thinking. After a while, a man walked over to her and asked what she was thinking of with such a solemn face. And she turned, looked up at the man and said: “Why do all those people admire and love this one flower so? Why does no one here take notice of the tree? For if the tree was not there, the flower would be helplessly lying in the dirt, completely unprotected from the sun and wind. Would you admire the flower if it did not have the tree to support it?" The little girl looked up innocently at the man. He could not think of anything to say; and then, being summoned, the little girl skipped off.
The man stood there for some time, looking up at that flower growing up the tree. He thought about all the people in his life that were like the tree, and he wondered if he was really appreciating their worth; if he was just having a good time and enjoying people’s compliments, and forgetting the people who mattered most to him.
After a while, the man walked home, a little more thoughtful and considerate perhaps, than when he had left it. All throughout his life, he never forgot the little girl with so much innocence, that made him think of life with a little more consideration.
And year after year, the flower grew in the admiration of the people that came to see it; and as it grew, the tree seemed to get smaller and smaller, until one day, you could hardly tell that there was a tree there at all...
But the tree lived in silence, happily growing in the one compliment that mattered most, the one from the gardener: the one he loved most.