Every good story has a beginning and an end. And everybody knows a really good story begins with once upon a time and ends with happily ever after. Gather around and listen as I tell you a story about an enchanted garden.
Once upon a time, in a cottage at the edge of the meadow, lived a sweet old woman. Ruthie enjoyed living alone, because in reality she didn’t consider herself alone at all.
After a long winter, she loved to wake up every morning and listen to the bird chorus outside her window. She clapped and cheered them on when they gathered around the freshly filled feeders. Ruthie joined them and sang her own melody.
One early spring day Ruthie decided to see if her old friend, Mama-Doe, had returned with a fawn. She hobbled out and carefully pushed aside the overgrown wisteria that hid the entrance to the garden. She called it her enchanted garden.
Once inside, the Bunny family hopped all about her feet, eager to see their friend. “Well, hello Bunnies.” Ruthie greeted them.
One young Bunny stood on his hind feet and twitched his nose. Ruthie scooped up the little fellow and stroked his soft, brown fur. She lifted him close to her face and they touched noses. “It’s good to see you, too,” Ruthie smiled.
Butterflies fluttered all around while Ruthie sat on her special bench in the center of the garden. She knew if she sat real still, Mama-Doe would venture out to visit. It didn’t take long. Soon she heard a rustle in the brush where her garden blended into the forest.
Mama-Doe’s head poked out and she sniffed the air. When her big brown eyes saw Ruthie she stepped into the garden. Right behind her, two spotted fawns hopped from the thicket into the sunshine.
Ruthie gasped, “Mama-Doe, you have two beautiful fawns this spring.”
Mama-Doe often visited to graze in the enchanted garden. She seemed comforted by the sound of Ruthie’s voice, and Ruthie loved to talk to this beautiful creature. She told her everything. All her secrets were safely shared with her silent companion.
“I’m so glad to see you, dear friend,” Ruthie began. “I need to tell you something.”
Mama-Doe stopped grazing and looked at Ruthie with curiosity. She stood still as Ruthie gently pet her back. Soft brown eyes looked into tired blue ones with compassion.
“I don’t know how else to tell you this, but I’m afraid old Ruthie’s time on earth is coming to an end. I want you to know how much I’ve enjoyed you and your fawns every year.”
Over the next few weeks, Ruthie loved to see the twin fawns hop out of the forest into her garden and chase butterflies. Mama-Doe nibbled at the vast variety of greens and listened to Ruthie. She may not have understood her words, but the tone of Ruthie’s voice had changed.
“I’ve been reading about Heaven.” Ruthie’s soft, somber voice caressed Mama-Doe’s ears while her hand stroked down her back. “The gates are made of pearl and the walls are layered with precious stones; jasper, sapphires, and emeralds. I don’t remember all of them, but there are twelve layers of beautiful stones. I’m going to see Heaven soon.”
Ruthie stood quietly and listened to the sounds of her enchanted garden. “Heaven will be even more beautiful than this. Can you believe that, Mama-Doe?”
“My life began here in this little cottage,” Ruthie reflected. “I came back seventeen years ago to take care of Mother. Now my life will end here as well.”
The two companions enjoyed a long stretch of silence before Ruthie spoke again. “When I die I’ll live forever in Heaven. I’ll be very happy there. No tears. No sorrow. No pain.”
The sun began to dip in the sky. The butterflies and birds disappeared and the bunnies hopped to their burrow. Mama-Doe started to leave. She hesitated at the edge of the garden and watched Ruthie.
“Good-bye, dear friend,” Ruthie waved.
She didn’t want to go inside. Ruthie lay down on the special bench in the center of her enchanted garden. As the sun disappeared slowly, she watched the sky change colors. “Oh Lord, will Heaven be even more beautiful than this sunset?”
Ruthie placed her hand on her heart and felt it slowly fade. That night, Ruthie passed quietly from her enchanted garden on earth to eternity in Heaven.
And Ruthie lived happily ever after…and after….and after.
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