Once upon a time, there was a Gardener. He owned a beautiful garden filled with the loveliest of flowers. On a small plot in this garden, he planted a single rosebush seed. The plant quickly sprang to life. Each morning, the Gardener came to water and sing to the rosebush. He loved her and she felt it with all of her being.
One day, a neighborhood boy climbed over the fence uninvited. He stood in the garden and gazed around him at the splendor and beauty the Gardener had created and longed to take some of this beauty for himself. The rosebush hoped he would sing to her just like the Gardener did, but instead of singing, he pulled a pocketknife from the depth of his overalls and clipped a flower right off the rosebush.
She recoiled in pain and shock, astonished that he would take from her so carelessly. The boy did not seem to realize that the rosebush was more than just her flowers, that there was so much more of her beneath the ground. The petals of the stolen flower would soon wither into husks, but the boy did not mind. He quickly climbed back over the fence so the Gardener would not see what he had done.
But the Gardener did see.
A few weeks later, another neighborhood boy sneaked into the garden, clearing the white picket fence and taking in the beauty of the flowers around him. He paused at the sight of the lovely rosebush. He felt desire, so he reached down and began to tear her right out of the ground. The boy saw the Gardener standing watch nearby and fled, leaving the rosebush torn almost to pieces. Her petals were trampled into the dirt, her roots laid bare under the scorching sun.
The Gardener stood over her, tears running down his weathered cheeks. "I've hurt like this before," he said. "You were beautiful when you were only a seed and you are beautiful now, as you are." And he carefully planted the rosebush back into the ground, pruning her in ways that hurt and healed, singing in a voice that felt more loving than it ever had before. The song that the Gardener whispered over her was one of beauty and grace.
It took more than a few days, but the rosebush began to grow again. Timidly and falteringly, she allowed new flowers to open to the sun. With each morning, with each new song sung over her, she began to smile at the Gardener as freely as she once had before. And she was daily reminded that she was created beautiful.
One day, a new boy entered the garden, although this one entered through the gate. He knelt next to the rosebush, but he simply admired the beauty that the Gardener had created in her. After a while, he began to sing. His voice was not as rich as the Gardener's, but it was kind. The boy soon explained, "The Gardener has adopted me and made me his son. He has been teaching me what it means to care for a garden, how to cherish without destroying, how to love what he has made beautiful. He asked me to care for a small plot of land in his garden, and he told me I could place you there."
Gently and carefully, the boy used a spade to unearth the little rosebush. The Gardener had shown him just how to raise a garden, how there was so much more to a rosebush than her pretty flowers. The boy placed the rosebush into a plot right in the center of the Gardener's land, right beside his own cottage. "I will sing to you every day," he told her.
The Gardener continued to visit the rosebush each morning. After all, he had grown her from a seed, he had restored her when she had been tread into the dirt, when her flowers had been stripped away. She was precious to him. And his voice was precious to the rosebush; she knew it well. She began to also recognize and love the voice of the Gardener's son. He sang to her joyfully and saw the rosebush as truly beautiful, just as the Gardener had made her.
The boy saw more than a rose. He saw her heart.