Gardeners of the Soul

“We are our heirs”, said the Old Man, as we called, affectionately, the oldest monk of the Order. We were going up a small mountain close to the monastery, through a narrow path, in a still cold spring morning. We were received by small and colorful wild flowers that portrayed the resplendence of that season, and subliminally taught us the stages of life: after the harshness of winter, which is indispensable to strengthen the determination of the spirit, the sweetness of spring will come to warm our hearts. All personal cycles – the Path is a big circle formed by numberless smaller ones – have their purpose, and carry valuable hidden teachings indispensable to evolution. Conflicting situations that occur over and over, to the point we question ourselves why so many repetitions, evidence our refusal in changing the way we look at things and act, understand and do things differently, in short, evolve. Once the lesson is learned, that cycle ends and, inevitably, a new one will come about, with different moments and free of the old problems. “Who complains about the Path does not want to change the way they walk”, he said with his unique way of talking.

The sun touched us softly, as if it knew wool blankets would not warm us enough. As we moved up, the vegetation became richer and attracted a huge diversity of birds and butterflies. Noticing how amazed I was, the old monk looked at me with his always serene eyes. “The scent of flowers is like the energy we send forth, whose sources are our feelings and thoughts. The good perfume attracts birds and butterflies like the rancid scent of sewage appeals to roaches, rats and mosquitoes”. He paused briefly and concluded. “Therefore, we alone are sole responsible for what we attract”. I mentioned how strange it was for him to extract hidden lessons everywhere. “The sacred is disguised as profane, and thus it is everywhere. Hence, life guides us through signs and offers us its wisdom through the simplest things, accessible to anyone who seeks it”. He looked at me in the eyes and I saw a shimmering light that emanated from the bottom of a source; the more the output, the stronger the light, despite being framed around a wrinkled, time-worn face. “All the love you need to live may be contained in a single hug”, he said.

I argued that he had mentioned, in a previous occasion, that all the love you need dwells in you, to the extent you exert this love. “Yes, this is true. This is the highest peak of understanding; however, there are some people we meet in life who are, at that moment, eager to cross the barrenness of the desert of love, and who just need a small sign of affection to regain their belief in the infinite magic of the Universe and, then, germinate once again. A careful gardener knows he is responsible for all the flowers in the garden”.

The Old Man sat on the grassplot still moist from the dew, and allowed his back to lean, restfully, against an even side of a huge stone. His body showed signs of ageing, but his spirit was always happy and youthful. “Enjoy all nuances of nature, and then take the beauty into yourself”, he told me, and then closed his eyes and became silent. I did the same, and we remained like that for I don’t know how long. When I opened my eyes, a saw the master a bit distanced, watching a bee pollinating a lily, stealing the sweet substance that, pretty soon, would be returned as honey. “This symbiosis reflects the existence. To learn, transform, share and move on”, he recited in a low voice, as if speaking to himself in his tireless quest to seek the beauty in everything and everyone. This was his Light. When he noticed that I was drawing near, he pointed at a small wild orchid that sprouted on the trunk of a huge tree and asked me to move away a weed that would soon suffocate it. “I do respect and admire gardeners, they are the perfect metaphor of life”, he said. When he saw in my eyes how bewildered I was with his sentence, he explained it with almost infinite patience. “A gardener is extremely careful when tending to a plant as we should be in tending to our soul. He cuts the leaves and branches that hamper the growth the way we should renounce things and  ideas that, for being obsolete, are no longer fit for us and only hamper our evolution; every day he quenches the flower with fresh water so it does not dry out, just like we must water our gestures with abundant love, as this is the source and honey of life, or else bitterness will dry us up; he keeps harmful plagues afar just as we must protect ourselves from the weeds originated in our own harmful  thoughts and feelings; he exposes them to the sun because light is essential for the development of all forms of life, just like it is indispensable for us to fill our shadows with light, in order to dissipate the mist that prevents the perfect vision; he tirelessly plows the small, minute grain, being sure that the magic of life will transform it, in due time, in a thriving tree under whose shade many will rest, and whose fruits many will enjoy. Even if the landscape is grey, the gardener is wise to know that the bright colors of a single flower are capable of, little by little, spreading beauty to the entire garden. Small gestures make a big difference. If we realize that our fortune is only the flowers we planted along the way to delight the lives of those who come after, we will understand the ancient and wise parable that you know the tree by its fruits. We are the gardeners of our own soul, and the way we look after it will feed or not the entire universe in its spiritual suppers”.

Kindly translated by Carlos André Oinghenstein.


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