The Park – part four

In this final installment, the Woman shows the overseers a better way…

“The room fell silent for a few moments.  After the overseers had some time to reflect, one young man, clearly saddened by the turn of events, stood up to speak.

‘The wisdom in your words is self-evident,’ he said, ‘and I see that we have failed to do the very thing you placed us here to do.  We never thougth it would come to this when we first told that man to stop picking the flowers for his mother.’

‘When you spoke to this man about picking the flowers,’ the Woman queried, ‘what reason did he give?  Was it a selfish one?’

‘No, not selfish,’ the overseer replied.

‘Even so,’ another said, ‘if we allowed one man to pick the flowers for a good cause, what was to stop everyone from doing the same thing?’

Was everyone doing the same?’ the Woman asked.

‘No,’ the overseer said.

‘So, why assume everyone will?  Why must the first question you ask be, ‘How can we stop others from doing wrong?’

‘But that’s a risk,’ another overseer responded.  ‘The flowers might’ve been gone before we realized there was a problem.  And then where would we be?’

The Woman paused and thought for a moment.  “In a better place, I think.  The risk was not as great as you perceived; you knew that the people loved the Park, and so did I, and that I would never abandon it.’  Now the Woman looked each overseer in the eye before she continued.

‘When we love, we take some risks.’ she said.

‘That may be fine for flowers,’ a third said, ‘but what about destruction to the lawns and paths?  Surely you aren’t sayng we shold wait until the lawns have been reduced to dirt and the paths are unusable?’

‘I don’t think that would have happened.’ the Woman responded.  ‘At least, I don’t see where it ever became a danger.  But there is something else I don’t think that you have considered.’

‘What’s that?’ they all said together.

‘Maybe some of the paths are in the wrong places.  If we want the people to enjoy the Park, we have to let them make it their own.  If some decide to make paths where there are none, why assume they’ve gone off the right ones?  Maybe they’re in the process of making even better paths.’

‘And if they make a path through one of the flower beds?’ one overseer asked.

Then post your sign, or give your warning – or move the flower bed! That should be our last resort, however,’ the Woman said, chuckling, ‘not our first. ‘ 

Again, she paused to look at each of them. ‘Don’t you think that the people who choose to come to this Park and to play in it love it as much as we do? ”

No one else had any questions.

About two weeks later, the children playing in the lot and dodging various chunks of debris – some hidden, some exposed – looked up from their games to see the Woman approaching.

‘Children, please come with me,’ she said, smiling.  ‘I think that you will see that the Park has changed.’

And so the children returned to the Park.  They rejoiced to see that the signs were gone.  They played in the meadows and walked through the gardens and ran in the sun-splashed fields.  It seeme like old times, but then they noticed something had changed.

For now, not only did the Woman come to play and to serve,  and to teach, but in each field and garden, and at every entrance, there was an overseer doing the very same thing.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

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