Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: The Romans 8:28 Garden
By Cherry Bieber
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She worked the garden, pulling with fury at the weeds. Anger wrapped around her like a threadbare shawl offering no comfort on a bitter cold winter’s day. She wiped the sweat from her brow and the stinging tears from her dirty face. She was twelve. Her head still throbbed from where he had repeatedly thumped her with his knuckles during the day’s lesson on how to properly tend a vegetable garden. Her heart still ached from his cutting remarks. She hated his cruel hands and cruel words and thought him a monster, but still, she cried for him at night.
The years passed, though not too quickly. There were more gardens in need of care for which she received his painful instruction. She left one day at the age of fifteen, fearing he may one day strike a fatal blow. Ten years later, she began planting her own gardens. She tenderly taught her little ones the importance of weeding and watering to help the garden flourish. She thought about him often when she was in the garden. He was aging now and slowing down. She sent him a letter one day and thanked him for the garden, to which he never replied. Though his hands could not strike her any longer, he continued on occasion with cruel remarks intended to cut deep. What he did not know, however; was that she had discovered in the interim years why she cried for him at night.
She was startled from sleep late one night in October by the ringing of the telephone. He’d had a stroke. She went to the hospital and saw him just as they wheeled him into surgery. Shock rushed through her, as she looked upon this giant man, now lying weak, pale, and helpless. Hours later, the doctor came out to talk with the family. Though the arteries had been cleared of debris, x-rays had revealed widespread lung cancer. They gave him nine months. She called out to the Lord for his salvation.
When he was released from the hospital, his body was weak, but his spirit was strong and he vowed he would “beat this monster!” As the months passed, she saw him losing the battle. She stopped by to see him in early May and found him planting his garden. She got down on her hands and knees beside him and together they planted in peaceful silence. He turned once and put his hand on her shoulder as if to speak. Tears filled his eyes and though no words came, she heard volumes. As the garden grew, she went once a week to help him weed. He was growing weaker by the day now. One day he told her that he had awakened that morning and was unable to use his hand. She knew the cancer had reached his brain. She called him that night to tell him she Loved him and together they wept
In late June, he was in the hospital again and she knew in her heart that the end had come. She slipped into his room after everyone else had gone. He lay quietly in a Morphine-induced sleep. She took his hands in hers and bent close to his ear. Through her tears she whispered, “If you know Jesus, it’s okay to go now. I Love you and I forgive you. Go home to the Father. I’ll see you there.”
A few days later, she went to tend his garden and found it laden with bindweed. She grabbed a pair of scissors and frantically fought to save this evidence of his life, determined that this, his last garden, must produce its fruits. When she was done, the sun was setting and the sky turned golden red. While the evening sun spilled its healing warmth over her shoulders, she sat watering the garden and watched the drops of water bead up and sparkle on the leafy vegetables like a million tiny diamonds. She decided that this would be the legacy of joy he left behind. A gentle breeze caressed her face and she lifted her eyes to heaven. She thanked God for the Love He had given her for the man who had given her the garden. She thanked God that she had truly hated the monster that had killed the man she once believed was a monster. She knew they would meet again, yet it would be like the first time.
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