The Most Beautiful Garden A story about beauty in diversity

Close to a little village in a very pleasing country side on the fair slopes of the rising mountains,

a man sat still in front of the entrance to a magnificent garden, unparalleled on the earthly plane.

A simple billboard at the gate read:

Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form, and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm, and addeth unto their beauty.

– 'Abdu'l-Bahá

People from near and far flocked by to have a look at the dazzling colors and the marvelous beauty of the manifold flowers and leaves.

Due to the diversity of the flowers, many bees, insects and butterflies - themselves full of vibrant energy and stunning colors - led a life of ease and happiness, buzzing along and enjoying every minute of it.

So it seemed, so it was and so the people were convinced after they spent some minutes in this wondrous garden.

The honey which the bees so lavishly offered - it was said - healed even the greatest illnesses, not only of physical nature.

But how did this all come about?

A group of children visited the garden with their teacher, softly treading the pebble pathway, eyes open wide with pure adoration and awe at the extraordinary beauty. The teacher allowed the children to explore the garden as long as they wanted to and then gathered them to sit at the feet of the old man positioned at the entrance of the garden. Curious they studied the old face, wrinkles and all, dancing in his kind face as he smiled at them lovingly.

"Did you plant all these flowers", a young boy asked.
"Where did you find them?"
"How did you bring them all here?"
"How could you carry so much?"
"I have hardly seen any of these flowers before!"
"Can we have some for my mommy?"

The old man chuckled into his grey beard.

"Would you like to hear the story of this garden? Find out why the honey tastes so sweet, the climate is so fair and the flowers so fragrant and enchanting?"

"Oh yes!"

"When I was your age, I loved nature very much already. I am sure, you do too!"

The children nodded their heads enthusiastically.

"Ah, well, my grandfather allowed me to have and take care of a tiny patch in his garden. He said, I could grow everything I wanted to and anything I could find. I roamed the meadows and hillsides and slowly my little patch of earth became more colorful and lovely.
My grandfather nodded deeply impressed by my arduous work one afternoon and looked at me earnestly.
'The world is a fascinating place, my dear grandson! The time has come for you to find out yourself how divinely God has created and designed it. ...

... I would like you to really understand what 'Abdu'l-Bahá meant when He talked about the unity of mankind in diversity - not only grasp it with your keen mind but comprehend and perceive it with your heart, your inmost being!

Go travel, go travel, in every part of the world and look at Gods creation!! Go to the East and West, the South and North, go to remote places, hot and cold ones, meet the people and make friends. Touch the hearts and let your heart be touched. And everywhere you go ask for one typical and customary plant to bring back home!'

I set out to do what my grandfather had asked me to, but I had underestimated the time it would take me. My grandfather was an old man in those days already and he passed away while I was still on my journey. I cherished all his wise and loving counsels and with unbroken curiosity and love in my heart I discovered the world, enjoyed its people and nature. Everywhere I went I received a sample flower and with great care and diligence I sent everything here to be tended to until I would return myself.

After many years abroad, meeting thousands of people, I returned home with my last seedlings.
My dear parents had gotten old! My mother - with tears in her eyes - welcomed me home and gave me a letter my grandfather had written to me, before he died.

It read:

My dearest grandson,
now your travels are done. You have seen much, you have learned much.
You have met many people, many very different than you are. I hope you opened your heart to every single one of them.
You gathered plants from every region of the world.
Now, the time has come for you to plant every single flower you have brought with you.
Let every flower, every leaf have its place. Arrange a most beautiful and unique garden, open and accessible to everyone who would like to see and experience it and understand its message!"

"Its message?"

The children were enraptured by the story and couldn't wait to hear the answer to their question.

"Yes, its message! What did you see and feel when you walked along the little paths, along the tiny flowing streams that run through the garden?"

"I saw so many colors!"

"I heard thousands of different sounds!"

"I smelt so many scents - strong and sweet or very delicate - depending on where we were".

"Shapes and forms of all sizes were everywhere!"

"It was so peaceful!"

"The surface of the plants and flowers was sometimes rough, other times soft, then hard or prickly."

"It was full of life!"

"There were bulky flowers..."

"... and tiny ones..."

"... elegant ones, like a lady..."

The children's faces glowed.

"I have never ever seen anything as resplendent and impressive as this garden in my whole life!", their teacher commented.

"You love the garden, because you love its variety. You love the garden, because every single flower and plant is unique. You love this garden because in it you can feel the love of God for every created being!
The message my grandfather was talking about is that this garden is an example of God's love for His creation. My grandfather asked me to bring a plant from each region as an example of the people that lived there. With each plant he wanted to show how wonderful the people are and how divers.

Planting all these flowers in one garden and seeing them blending so perfectly would make every visitor realize that humanity is like one great sublime garden, peaceful, united, side-by-side, strong - bringing forth exalted fruits such as unity, love, heartfelt collaboration - ...

... healing all ills of the human race by living its destiny, unfolding its inherent beauty and strength... Just like this delicious honey!"

The old man paused, closed his eyes for some moments - as if a vision of the glorious future of the human race as described by 'Abdu'l-Bahá was unfolding - and then smiled at the children brightly.

"Would you like to taste this honey?"

– Polly (Gabriele) Janitzky
illustrated by Jalil Wahdatehagh