The gardener walked quietly up and sat on an old fence to watch, the angel was so intent on the small gate she had not noticed his approach, although she rarely did not know when he was close. Her delicate fingers traced the hinges sensing they were stiff with time and lack of use. She tried to peer down the path but it was so grown over it seemed there was no path at all. She startled when he spoke – even though he spoke softly and quietly.
“That gate has never been opened,” he started, “and it’s time has passed, it will not be opened. And there is a path beyond the gate; it is The Path Not Taken. Actually there are many such paths. They are there but I always hope these gates to remain closed. Oh, if someone were to choose the path I do not stop them, but I do try to keep them guided to the path I have set for them. Once a fork in the path has been passed these pathways close.” He smiled gently at the angel’s puzzled look. “The gates appear when someone wonders how their tale may have unfolded had they made different choices. Most often the paths are faded memories that are very hard to see at all.” The gardener looked into the angel’s soft eyes, “Would you like to see? This path is the beautiful plant’s path not taken.”
With a touch the gate opened quietly and the path seemed to open before them, but when she looked back the path was gone. The gardener simply kept walking forward. Soon they were in a beautiful garden; ahead of them she saw the plant. As they walked closer she looked about surprised, it was the same garden, yet it was so different. The tree was not here, and it seemed it never had been. There were many birds and others, but the Bluebird was nowhere to be seen or heard, the tiny Hummingbird did not dart happily from place to place, and the Snowy Owl was not here. As she listened harder she realized there was no dove song lilting softly through the garden, no carefree chatter from the Butterfly, no laughter from the Pixie or the Halfling. The plant was there, tall and beautiful, but somehow its beauty seemed cold. She turned to the gardener. “Where are all our friends? The ones who love and are loved by the plant? The tree so many looked to for wisdom?” She seemed to feel the shallowness of the garden and its hollow loveliness cut into her soul like a burning knife. The gardener brushed a tear from her heart.
“These are shadows of what may have been,” he said softly. “He never was touched by the one who taught him love, never met the others in their pain and tried to shelter them. The Bluebird was crushed by the storm, and while she is still with those who love her she is a sad and broken shadow of who she would have been.” As the angel looked around the garden felt cold and lonely, not the place of healing that she so loved. The gardener continued, “The Hummingbird became hard and jaded by her losses. She did become a voice for those who could not speak for themselves, but out of a sense of radical revenge, not love.” Now the angel openly wept – for the tenderness of the Hummingbird was what made her who she was. The gardener waited briefly, then continued, “The Snowy Owl was strong and simply remained solitary becoming increasingly more distant from others. She never befriended the Butterfly and the Butterfly simply flew on lost in her own chatter.” He smiled softly at her, “The Dove and her mate held to their own path, for they do have one another.”
The angel looked around for anything that seemed right, “What of the tree? How can it not be here?” Now the gardener looked sad, “The Tree never met the plant, and while his life was rich and full, the plant and tree never completed one another, never felt the bond of feeling the other was special. That bond that so enriches the soul was missed by both. The Tree is in the grand garden, a bit smaller, but still noble and tall.”
“What of the Pixie?” the angel asked at length, “She with so very much to give?” The gardener shook his head. “She is alone, feels she has nothing to offer to anyone. She cries alone for those she has lost and acts as a servant with no one to turn to. Her life is alone with no reason to feel hope. No one was there to help her find her gifts, her heart, and her voice. No one was there to free her.”
The angel shook with sadness, looked hopefully about, “And the Halfling? What became of her?” she asked. The gardener looked into her soul, “She passed through the garden, hidden in the shadows. After a short rest she moved on, unnoticed by any here. Her words remain locked within her heart, shackled by years of being told how unworthy she is. She remains a lost child, like a gypsy faerie alone in a world where no one believes in her magic, so that she herself has come to doubt its existence.”
The angel wept openly at how much that she knew, now never was. She looked to the gardener, “Can we go back? Can the gate be once more locked? This place is at once so familiar and yet so sad, I know you said a path once taken is, but they did not take this path – can we go back?”
Now the gardener smiled, the sun seemed to shine brighter with that smile. “These are shadows of what may have been,” he said softly. “Shadows are not what is.” He touched the gate before them and as she looked the path faded away. “Come,” he said, “we have tarried long, and I have a garden to tend.”
© Candace 3/7/2010
Light a candle for all those hurt or lost, for a sick, abused, or special needs furbaby,
or perhaps just someone who needs a prayer and a candle lit.