The Parable of the Two Gardeners

Two pieces of land were given over to two gardeners to tend to as they saw fit. When given, the properties were overgrown, having been left unattended for years. Each gardener took tremendous pride in their newly acquired plots and spent a great deal of time walking the grounds, meticulously planning exactly what they wanted to do with their gifts. 

The first gardener dreamed of a perfectly manicured lawn; the type of lawn that could one day land him a spot in a monthly lawn care magazine. He began carefully clearing the land of the clover, dead nettle, wild strawberries and thistles. As he worked he saw that many varieties of worms, insects and rodents had taken up residence amidst the tall grass and underbrush. Knowing that these were not a part of his blueprint, he tilled up the soil, rid his lawn of weeds, and planted the best fescue that he could find. For months, the first gardener worked tirelessly. He mowed, trimmed, pulled weeds, re-seeded, and fertilized his lawn until every square inch of grass was the same height, thickness, and color. He constructed a pretty white fence that encircled his lawn to protect it against wild animals that otherwise could venture in. Many bugs and rodents, no longer belonging in this landscape, ventured into the woods, and the first gardener successfully cultivated the most beautiful lawn in his town.

The second gardener’s lawn was also overgrown and filled with rubbish. As he began working to clear his land, he too saw that it was filled with many types of grasses, moss and wide leafed plants. Wild violet, henbit, dandelion, white clover and caladium covered the garden’s floor. Like the first gardener, he took notice of the large variety of bugs, worms, and rodents living there. As he spent time on his land, he saw that each of these creatures fed from, found shade and protection under, and thrived because of the other types of plants. He also noticed that the insects seemed to bring in frogs, the frogs attracted snakes; hawks and foxes were drawn to the garden by the rodents, and so on it went. While not completely at ease with the idea of one day encountering a poisonous snake or hungry fox in his garden, he also did not wanting to disrupt this little community he had found. So, he chose not to spray or spread the weed killers, up-root these plants, or remove the animals. Instead, he trimmed the bushes and plants back, laid stones, and built mulch beds around the flowering plants. He mowed the grass, and tended to his garden, allowing the different varieties of plants and animals to cohabitate, believing that this broad medley supported and sustained the life of one another.

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-Phil

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