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Dora and the Garden, Part 1

Eight-year-old Dora remembered that when she was younger she had enjoyed helping her parents with chores around the house, such as setting the table before meals and sweeping the floor after dinner. She enjoyed making people happy by smiling and being cheerful. Dora especially enjoyed making her baby brother, Darren, happy, by playing with him and singing to him. Others would often compliment Dora on how helpful she was and how they enjoyed her company.

Now that Dora was older, she felt grumpy and couldn't even explain why. It wasn't as fun to make her brother Darren laugh, and these days she didn't much feel like helping her parents with household chores or cleaning up after herself. Dora wasn’t as happy as she used to be, and she didn’t understand why.

One night, while lying in bed, Dora began to cry. She wished she could go back to being a sweet, happy girl again. While lamenting her sorry state, she thought she heard a voice speaking in her thoughts. "Pray! Jesus can help you!"

She sat up in her bed and switched on her night light. It must have been her imagination. There was no one else in the room. Dora looked a little puzzled as she sank back onto her pillow.

As soon as she had closed her eyes, she heard the voice again. "Go ahead, pray! Jesus will answer you!"

Dora shot up from her pillow. "Who is that?" she demanded. "Are you trying to tease me?" She looked all around the room, trying to figure out where the mysterious voice had come from, but again found nothing out of the ordinary. Puzzled, she lay back down. Maybe I'd better do what the voice says! Maybe I should pray!

It had been a long time since she had prayed on her own. She used to love to snuggle up in her bed after giving a goodnight kiss to her parents, and talk to Jesus as her best friend. She hadn’t done that in a long time, and now as she thought about it, she missed the comfort she had found from talking with Jesus.

Dora suddenly felt like she desperately needed someone to talk to, someone who could truly understand her—someone who could explain things to her and help her. She needed her best friend. She needed Jesus. So she started to pray.

"Dear Jesus, I really need You. Please help me to understand why I’m so unhappy. Please, Jesus. ..."

A peaceful feeling suddenly came over her, and her eyelids grew heavy and began to close.

Soon, Dora found herself in a garden. The little wall that surrounded the garden was crumbling away. The pathways and flowerbeds were overgrown with weeds. It was obvious the garden had not been tended to in a long time. Dora wondered aloud, "Why doesn't someone take care of this garden?"

"That's what I'd like to know too!" said a spunky little voice behind her. She spun around to see who it was, but no one was there. She looked back the other way and heard the voice speak again, "But you ought to know why … this is your garden!"

Dora turned around and looked straight in the direction she had heard the voice coming from, but still didn't see anyone. "Who's there?" she demanded. "Where are you hiding?"

"I'm not hiding," answered the voice. "I'm down here, right in front of you."

Dora looked down to see a single, pale-pink rose barely visible amidst ugly-looking weeds that were crowding out the bush. It couldn't be the rose … could it? she thought to herself. She knelt down for a closer look at the rose. It was then that she noticed that the little rose had a smiling face, and it was looking right at her!

"Don't worry, Dora,” said the rose. “You are having a dream. A lot of unusual things can happen in dreams, you know."

Dora was speechless for a moment, but then mustered up her courage. "This is a dream? But it seems so real!"

"Dreams can sometimes be a reflection of reality,” the rose answered. “Maybe that's why it seems so real to you."

"Oh!" said Dora, suddenly remembering that the rose had told her that this was her garden to take care of. "This garden must have been very beautiful once," she said, hoping that the rose would explain more about it.

"Oh, yes!" said the rose, "It was lovely! Mothers would bring their children to play here and grandmothers and grandfathers would come and sit on the benches to enjoy the sight of the happy children playing among the flowers. Hummingbirds and bees would come to suck the sweet nectar of the flowers, and the butterflies would flutter here and there, looking like flying flowers themselves. There were geraniums, daisies, chrysanthemums, azaleas, and roses of all different colors and sizes. Everybody would pass by to smell the beautiful perfume that we roses exuded."

The rose looked sad; Dora thought she could see a tear rolling down one of its petals. "But now no one wants to come here. Most of the flowers are dead … and I will soon be gone too." The rose's poor faded petals hung noticeably lower.

Dora was alarmed. "No! No!" she said, "I'll help you! Please, tell me what I can do to help!" The rose looked up, relieved and hopeful.

"To begin with, you need to pull out the weeds that are growing near me,” said the rose. “They are hogging the ground and taking much of the nutrition and moisture from the soil that I need."

"Sure!" said Dora, grabbing hold of some of the weeds and pulling with all her might. But when she looked in her hand, all she held was a bunch of leaves and a bit of stem.

"No, not like that," said the rose patiently. "You have to take hold of the stem near the ground and then pull. If you don't pull the weeds out by the roots, they will grow back."

Dora tried again, grabbing the bottom of the stems right near the earth, and pulling with all her might. Out came a large, ugly weed, including the roots. But, how strange! Just as Dora pulled the weed out of the ground, she felt a pain.

"Ow!" she cried out. Then she leaned over and grabbed another bunch of weeds, and gave a big yank. Again the weeds were pulled out by the roots, and again Dora felt the pain.

"Ow!" she cried again. After a minute, she clenched her teeth and determinedly laid both hands on an even bigger clump of weeds and tugged so hard that she fell over backwards as the roots gave way in her hand.

"Ouch!" she yelled. The rose had been silently watching all this time. Dora looked up at the rose with a puzzled and pained look on her face, as if to say, What's happening? I thought I was doing the right thing?

The rose looked sympathetically down at her. "You have to realize that it sometimes costs something to do the right thing. It takes effort to pull out the weeds of your garden, and it will often hurt you a little. But don't worry, you'll be glad when you see how much better and more beautiful the garden will look afterwards."

Just then a bright ray of sunshine broke through the clouds overhead and shone in Dora's face. She closed her eyes due to the bright light, and when she opened them again, she found herself back in bed.

"Time to get up, sleepyhead," her mother called cheerfully. "I think you slept through your alarm. It’s time for breakfast!"

During school, Dora’s thoughts kept wandering back to the garden and her conversation with the rose. She wished she could return to the garden to see what other flowers she could help.

But how could she? It was just a dream! Or was it? Just then she heard the same voice that she'd heard before she had the dream. "Why don't you ask Jesus? He'll help you understand!"

Of course, thought Dora, I will!

That night Dora surprised her mother by getting ready for bed a half hour early.

"That's unlike you to be eager to go to bed," said Dora’s mother, giving her a kiss on the forehead.

"I'd just like to go to bed early tonight, Mom. Goodnight!"

"Do you feel all right?"

"I'm fine. I just want to spend some time talking to Jesus before falling asleep," she said, throwing her arms around her mother and giving her a big kiss before climbing under her blankets.

"Goodnight, dear. It makes me happy to hear you say that, and to see you so cheerful," Dora’s mother said as she left the room.

Dora turned off the light and prayed.

"Dear Jesus, I want to know more about the garden and the rose. Please explain it to me!"

Maybe the dream had something to do with the question I asked Jesus last night before going to sleep, thought Dora. I wonder if it’s an answer to why I’ve been unhappy recently.

"Dear Jesus,” Dora prayed, “please help me understand what the dream has to do with my question! Please, Jesus!"

She heard that mysterious voice in her thoughts again. "This garden is the garden of your heart … the garden of your heart … the garden of …" The words slowly faded away and Dora was fast asleep. She was thrilled to find that she was back in the garden again.

Now I'll find out all about this mysterious garden, she thought excitedly. Then she remembered what the voice had said as she fell asleep. This garden is the garden of my heart? she thought, a little puzzled. I must ask the rose!

She ran over to the rose bush and blurted out, "Tell me what it means, that this is the garden of my heart? I need to know!"

"Hello, Dora!" called the rose. "It's nice to see you again. How are you?"

"I'm fine, thank you," Dora replied somewhat impatiently. The rose remained silent for a minute, and Dora realized that she hadn't even greeted the rose. "Oh, I'm sorry. I just came barging in here, didn't I? I was excited, and curious to find out more about this garden. I’m sorry for not greeting you! How are you today?"

“Doing much better since you pulled the weeds from around me,” answered the rose.

"Can you tell me more, please?"

"Ah, you said ‘please.’ I see that you are learning," the rose said. "I'll be happy to explain more to you."

Dora made herself comfortable on a wooden bench next to the rose bush and looked at the rose expectantly. "You were very unhappy," the rose began, "and you asked Jesus why, right?"

Dora nodded.

"Jesus allowed you to come here so that you could see what condition the garden of your heart was in,” said the rose. “You are learning what needs to be corrected in your life, which will also help people to enjoy being around you again."

It seemed as if a light had turned on for Dora. "You mean that if I clean up my garden, people will like being with me, as they used to?"

The rose smiled, "You're beginning to understand,” said the rose. “You had a good start last night by pulling out a few weeds. Already your mother was pleasantly surprised at the way you didn’t complain about going to bed, and kissed her goodnight."

Dora had another question that puzzled her. "But why did I feel pain when I ripped the weeds out?"

"Ah," said the rose, "when you pulled out those weeds, did you notice how some of the soil was taken with it?"

Dora nodded her head.

"Well, in a similar way, it costs you to have those weeds pulled out of your life."

"Oh, I think I understand," said Dora thoughtfully. "So the weeds are ..."

"… the bad things you do and think—your sins—such as unloving thoughts about others and selfish deeds," the rose finished for her. "If you try correcting these things in your thoughts and behavior, then you will see the weeds disappear and your garden will become beautiful once again."

Dora’s face fell when she looked around to see the garden in such disarray.

"Oh my," she said. "How will I ever manage? There's so much to do, it will take me forever!"

"Come, come now. You don't have to do it alone, you know," the rose said soothingly. "You can ask your Best Friend. …"

To be continued.

S&S link: Christian Life and Faith: Biblical and Christian Foundation: God’s Word-1b

Contributed by Christi S. Lynch. Author unknown. Illustrations by Leila Shae.
Copyright © 2012 by The Family International


DOC: Dora y el jardín, 1ª parte (Spanish)
DOC: Dora and the Garden, Part 1 (Portuguese)
PDF: Dora and the Garden, Part 1 (Japanese)