[Originally posted Jan 25, 2020. A poem shared during Gandhi 3.0 retreat.]
The Gardener and the Builder
Two people came into the meadow, to make it their home.
The gardener looked over the meadow, picked a patch of sun for his garden, and then set about moving his favorite plants from across the meadow to that spot.
Meanwhile the builder surveyed the meadow, picked a sheltered site for her home, and set about cutting down trees for timber.
After a time, the builder was almost done. She needed just one more tree to finish the home. But when she looked around, only one tree remained, and the gardener’s garden had grown around it. So she became jealous of the gardener, and she went to him saying:
“I worked and worked at such full tilt,
Such a fine home has never been built!
All that remains is to use this last tree,
To decorate my home for all to see!”
But the gardener was upset at how the builder had chopped down all the trees in the meadow, and he replied with anger:
“You ripped up the grass and cut down the trees
Just so that you could avoid a stiff breeze!”
Now the sight of your home does enchant,
But I could never
live inside the bodies of dead plants!”
With a huff, the builder replied:
“Not bugs, nor weather, nor YOU will bother me
I’ll lie snug in my home, the door locked with this key!”
“Your home does indeed look nice and snug,” he replied,
“but I prefer the occasional bug!”
That night a storm rolled through the meadow. It drenched the gardener, so he ran to the builder’s home for shelter. But the door was locked! He cried out:
“Oh builder, oh builder, have mercy on me,
Just let me inside and I’ll give you the tree!”
But her home was built so tight, she could not hear the gardener’s cries, and so he spent the night wet and alone in the garden.
Eventually the clouds passed, and the rain helped the garden grow. Soon the sunny patch of meadow was filled with blooming flowers, and he befriended the deer and mice who came to eat flowers and berries.
All this while the builder sat in her home. Secretly she enjoyed looking through her small window at the garden outside, and thought it to be perhaps even more beautiful than her home, but her pride would not let her say so.
Awhile later, another storm rolled through, and the builder awoke to find her roof had sprung a leak!
“Drip, drip, drippy, drip” went the water as it dripped onto her head,
driving her to dismay. So she ran outside to get the last tree to fix her roof, saying:
“Oh gardener, oh gardener, please help me!
My roof’s sprung a leak and you have the only tree.
So I propose: a tree, for a key!”
But the gardener had been listening to his friends the deer and the mice. They’d been all over the land, and had told the gardener that all creatures need help from friends. So the gardener said:
“A key for a tree sounds good to me.
But what if first, we sit and have tea?
I’d like to know you before the day ends,
For I cannot go on without a good friend.”
The builder felt her heart melting, and she replied:
“Oh gardener thank you that puts me at ease
I am so sad that I killed all our trees.
I thought if you saw, that my house was snug,
It might mean that you’d come and give me a hug.”
This stunned the gardener. So she’d really wanted to be friends all along? He said to her:
“Oh builder, about the trees, please don’t feel sad!
Indeed your words fill me, and make me feel glad.
My friends the animals are quite wise
And they tell me that everything dies.
What matters is not death or life,
But rather that we get to live without strife.”
And the gardener replied:
“Then about our quarrel, let’s find a dove,
And instead let us live a life founded in love.”