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					THE FLOWERS
By Dan Allen

Disclaimer: the following is a fictional story. It is not intended to reflect correct
historical order, real motives for different institutions and practices, or a thorough
theological study. It simply illustrates a point. Thank you.

                               Once upon a time there was a Great
                               Gardener. He came upon a dry and
                               barren plot of land. He tilled the land and
                               planted a seed in the land, he watered
                               and nourished his seed and it grew into a
                               beautiful flower. People were amazed by
                               his flower and wanted to be a part of his
                               gardening effort. So he taught the people
                               to spread his seeds throughout the land,
                               he taught them how to till the land, give
                               the flowers sun and how to water and
                               nourish the flowers. He instructed the
people to write these instructions down in Journals for future growers.
Soon his seeds had been planted throughout the whole land and what
had once been a barren and desert place was now full of life and
beauty.

The people were very happy and very enthusiastic to take part in the
planting and growing of the Great Gardener’s flowers. They began to
take a real interest in the flowers. Many were happy with the growing
process presented by the Great Gardener but some started to worry
that by being outside and exposed to the elements the flowers could
get blown by strong winds or hurt by cold nights. To solve this problem
these folks decided to build structures around the flowers. Before long
all the flowers in the land were now inside green houses. It was
somewhat disappointing not to be able to see all the beautiful flowers,
but at least now they were all safe from the storms of the world. There
were some who noticed that the flowers didn’t seem quite as bright
and colorful as before, that their stocks did not stand up quite as
straight and powerfully, but this was only noticed by a few and even
those few weren’t sure if the flowers had really lost some of their
vibrancy or if it was just that there wasn’t quite as much sunlight to
show off the true beauty of the flowers. Either way, at least now the
flowers across the land were safe and sound in their greenhouses.

As the people’s fears abated concerning the flowers’ exposure to the
elements, another concern began to crop up: they realized they were
not professional growers and were afraid that they might not be able
to keep the flowers alive or growing as vibrantly and beautifully as the
Great Gardener. They weren’t sure what to do about this at first; some
thought to consult the Great Gardener. Others thought it might be
advantageous to discuss the matter with neighboring growers. These
people weren’t growing flowers, they grew cacti and thorn bushes and
the like, but it seemed to make sense to note their strategy. It seemed
to work well for them so maybe it could be applied to growing flowers
as well. This seemed like the easiest approach and soon the growers
were having regular consultation with the cactus and thorn bush
growers. The theory of the cactus and thorn bush growers was that
putting all the work of growing into the hands of a paid professional
made the most sense. Everyone could not be trusted to understand
the complexities of plant growth and everyone could not take the time
to learn these complex details. This made sense to the flower growers
so they finally decided that they would select one person to become
proficient in the ways of growing and nourishing their flower (they had
taken to “owning” a specific flower), and he would not have to work a
trade, for this would be his trade: that he might devote all his time
and energy to learning and implementing techniques in flower
growing.

Before long the custom of having one proficient grower spread to all
the groups growing flowers and they all adopted the custom. This lead
many groups to bring in professionals from outside their ranks who
had degrees in horticulture. If one among them becoming proficient
was a good idea bringing in someone who was a trained professional
seemed even better. This assured the people that the person they
picked had proficiency in flower growth and nourishment techniques.
Since this professional spent all his time tending to the flower he
would have to be paid a full time salary. This took away some of the
peoples’ resources that had been used to buy fertilizer, water, and
nutrients but they could now rest assured that the flower was tended
to professionally.

There came a time when very few remembered that they had all once
been a part of the flower growing process, and even fewer who
remembered the ways of flower growing at all. Fortunately they had a
professional who knew the ways of flower growing well and could
make up for the people’s lack of knowledge. But it was hard for the
people when a professional grower would leave them because no one
among the group really knew what to do to care for the flower after
the professional left. Some of these professionals left basic instructions
on how to keep the flower alive, or he would try to pass his knowledge
on to another young man, but by-and-large the people would have to
figure out for themselves how to keep the flower from dying while they
scurried to get another professional to care for their flower as quickly
as possible.

Through all these changes some thought that the flowers were not
looking very bright and colorful, and that they hung limply and lifeless
but that could not truly be the case since the flowers now had a safe
greenhouse to reside in and a professional to care for their needs, but
it was still hard for some to shake the belief that the flowers did not
look quite as amazing and vibrant as they once had. The professionals
assured them that the flowers continued to look amazing and shared
with them the new techniques that they were using to enliven the
flowers even more. Some of these professionals attached crutches to
the flowers’ stalks to help them stand up and look more alive, others
painted the flowers’ petals to restore their beauty and color, and they
always shared with the people that the Great Gardener should be
praised and followed in the ways of flower growing, but very few
actually approached the Great Gardener and asked him what they
should do. It seemed to them that the flowers looked great and they
were doing well, so why bother the Great Gardener with their silly
concerns.

Soon no one could remember a time when flowers were not kept in
greenhouses and tended to by professionals. They did not remember
what the flowers used to look like during that early time when the
Great Gardener first planted them. They had heard legendary stories
of the Great Gardener and decided it would be nice if they gathered
around the flower in a special way once a week to honor the Great
Gardener and remember the day he planted the first flowers. This
special meeting around the flower began to show very high attendance
and people found going to this special meeting very comforting and
encouraging. These meetings were doing so well in fact that very few
noticed that no one was stopping by to let in sunlight for the flower
during the other six days of the week. Some groups noticed and
decided that they would institute a couple secondary meetings which
few attended but those who did were applauded as caring greatly for
the flowers and the Great Gardener. To a few this seemed very unlike
what they read in the Journals of the early days. It seemed to them
that caring for and tending to the flowers had been a part of peoples’
everyday lives, but now no one but the professional cared for the
flower and only a small portion of time was given to even looking at
the flower. These people felt uneasy. They brought their thoughts to
the professionals who in turn explained to them that they did not quite
understand the Journals because they lacked the training to do so. The
professionals assured them through complex explanations that the
differences between their ways and the Journals’ were only superficial
and due to unavoidable changes in the environment. The professionals
tried to explain that they were applying the principles of the Journals
and the Great Gardener but in a way that applied to this new
environment which the writers of the Journals did not have to deal
with. This settled the concerns of many, but there were still a few who
felt slightly uneasy, but continued to go along not knowing what else
to do.

Since the professional knew far more about the upkeep of flowers then
the rest of the people, he was generally the one to speak at the
gatherings around the flower. He would tell the people stories about
the Great Gardener and the first flowers. He would encourage them to
come back every week to talk about the Great Gardener and the
flowers. He would explain to them the new programs going into
maintaining their flower and in planting new flowers. This was all very
exciting, but would obviously cost money, so he encouraged them to
give financially to these programs. In that way they could, like the
earliest followers of the Great Gardener, take part in the growth of the
flowers. People loved the idea that they could be a part of planting and
maintaining flowers, so many gave generously. While planting flowers
and maintaining flowers was important the people also felt like
improving the greenhouses was important, so much of the money
went into making the greenhouses look nicer, to reflect the beauty and
life of the flower.

An interesting thing happened during this time. As people became
more concerned with the greenhouse displaying the beauty and
vibrancy of the flower they thought it would be encouraging to make
the greenhouse look more like the flower. They did this by putting a
large spire (or point) on top of the greenhouse. This resembled the
stalk of the flower and became a universal symbol that it was a
greenhouse that housed a flower. When people would talk about these
greenhouses they found it difficult and awkward to describe it as “the
greenhouse I go to that houses the flower that I visit at the weekly
meeting,” so soon shorthand forms of this were created, instead of
calling it “the greenhouse where the flower is stored” they just called
the greenhouse “the flower.” Instead of calling it “the meeting where
we gather by the flower to hear about the flower and the Great
Gardener” they just began calling the meeting “the flower” as well.
This seemed much easier and not quite as tongue tying.
As a part of the greenhouse upgrades, chairs were installed for the
people. Since they weren’t really participating in the tending to the
flower, it made more sense for them to sit rather then stand around
and get cramped legs. The chairs were pointed toward the professional
so they could look at him while he spoke (which took up most of the
time during the meetings). They had felt for a while that standing
around the flower made it hard to see the professional as he spoke, so
now that their seats faced him and he was raised up on a podium they
could hear his lectures and see him much better.

Through all this time very few consulted the Great Gardener and many
found the ways written in the Journals of his earliest followers to be
antiquated and no longer conducive to flower growth in their new
environment. Since those early people did not keep flowers in
greenhouses or have to deal with the overhead and limitations of
paying a professional to care for their flowers their techniques really
could not transfer to the modern flower growing process. The
professional could not be expected to do all the things that the
Journals explained that flowers needed. He could not be there
constantly to care for and water the flower, and since the people only
came once (or maybe twice) a week and had no idea how to care for
their flower they could not be expected to help in the effort. So the
flower was not cared for constantly as the flowers had been in the
early days, this is why new techniques had to be developed and the
modern flower growers could not be expected to hold to the old ways
of water, sunlight, and nutrients.

As the years went by the limitations of the professional, the ignorance
of the people, and the lack of funds for nutrients and water sadly left
the flowers in poor shape. Surprisingly very few even noticed though,
they had become so familiar with calling the greenhouse “the flower”
and the meeting “the flower” that they forgot (or had never heard!)
that there was a real flower somewhere in there. Most of the
professionals’ speeches surrounded ideas about getting more people to
come to the flower(the meeting at the greenhouse), giving more
money to the upkeep of the flower(the greenhouse) and the erection
of new flowers(greenhouses) and inviting the people to enjoy all the
different programs other then the flower(the regular meeting) that
were being held at the flower(the greenhouse) throughout the rest of
the week. A lot was said about the Great Gardener and the early
Journals, but He was rarely consulted in matters concerning the flower
and the Journals became difficult for the people to understand or
relate to without the aid of the professionals.
There were some who felt very disappointed and discouraged by what
they saw happen to the beautiful flowers of the Great Gardener. They
began cultivating new land and grew flowers the way the Journals
explained under the guidance of the Great Gardener. They felt like
everyone should be involved in the growing process of the flowers and
that they didn’t need to consult professionals since they had the Great
Gardener to consult. This group was small but they found the work
satisfying and meaningful and as they began to tell people how they
were growing flowers many joined them, finding that they were
disappointed with what had generally become of flower growing. These
people found the experience amazing. Being able to see the beauty
and vibrancy of the flowers and knowing they were participating in the
work of growing the flowers gave them a great sense of unity with
their fellow growers and peace knowing that they were working for the
Great Gardener, and trying to grow the flowers the way he wanted.

				
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posted:8/18/2011
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