It happened in a quite countryside. People were always friendly and cared for one another like family.
The star of the soccer team had taken notice of the baker’s daughter. She was not particularly fond of sports, so the star’s athleticism was of no asset to him. He had to get her affection. But how?
As he and his friends were walking to school one morning he passed a young boy tending a bush. He stopped and watched the boy meticulously prune the bush with expert care.
“Why are you wasting your time with that bush? It hasn’t flowered in over four years.”
“That is okay. I am taking care of it now and one day it will bloom,” the boy responded.
The soccer player laughed deep in his chest at this statement. “How can it bloom when you are cutting the branches off?”
“If I do not remove the old unproductive part of it, it will never bloom. This way it has room to grow and get bigger and better blossoms.”
The group unanimously laughed this time and went on their way to leave the boy to his pruning. The boy was not bothered by their reaction because he knew the hidden potential of this beautiful bush.
The weeks passed by and the soccer star was still unsuccessful in gaining the attention of the baker’s daughter. He became desperate for the love and affection he dreamed about. Every waking moment was spent imagining what could be his. Try as he might, she still seemed to ignore him.
During this time, the bush began to get healthier. It was being pruned appropriately and given the proper care by the young boy. Being one that was aware of his surroundings, the boy loved caring for the plants alongside the road because those were always the ones that needed the most care.
The people began to notice the rose bush and how healthy it looked. Many people were soon adjusting their travels merely to pass by the rose bush on the way to their destination. When the people came by and watched the boy work, he would question them.
“Why are you watching me work? I am no one special in what I do, anyone can do this if they only care about what they are doing.”
Many would leave the young boy to his work because they felt in their hearts that they could never accomplish something so beautiful. Most went away saddened and ashamed, this always confused the young boy.
“Why won’t anyone believe me? It is a very simple matter to care for these plants. It only takes a person to see the condition of the plant and give it what would make it happy.”
The young boy strolled into the village one day to buy some loaves of bread. As he approached the baker’s stall he heard a sob coming from the alley. He turned to find the baker’s daughter crying.
“Why are you crying? It is a beautiful day and yet you have gray clouds over you,” the young boy asked.
“My father is ill and there is no one to bake the bread to sell. I wish I knew how he does it so I could help. We need the money.” she replied.
“Baking bread is a very simple matter. Has he never taught you?”
“I never had any interest in baking bread. I’m afraid I am always distracted by other things.”
“What things?” the young boy asked.
“Attractive young men. They never seem to notice me though. I don’t know what to do to gain their attention.”
“Let’s start by baking some bread. Wipe those tears away and I will show you.”
“That is very kind of you. Although, we can not afford to pay you for your work,” the young lady states.
“Seeing your day brighten will be payment enough.”
The two got started right away. Soon the bakery was alive with the aroma of fresh bread. It smelled, unlike anything the village had ever smelled before. Everyone was curious as to what the baker was up to. By the end of the day, every loaf of bread had been sold. Some even prepaid for the next days batch. It was a very profitable day.
As the young boy gathered up his things he set out to go home empty handed as all the bread had been sold. The girl took notice of this and stopped him before he left and gave him the cut ends off of several loaves.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get any bread today. I want you to have these. Not as payment mind you, but as a thank you for helping me today.”
“I shall accept your thanks.” With that, the young boy put all the end pieces into his sack and turned to go.
“Where did you learn to make bread like that? I never tasted anything like it,” the baker’s daughter asked.
Without turning, he said. “From my father. He told me that someday, I would be able to teach someone I loved how to make it and they would prosper from it. I got to fulfill that today. I am grateful. My father would have been proud.” And with that statement, he left.
The days passed without further incident. The baker got well and was able to continue baking for the village. The baker’s daughter would wave and smile at the young boy whenever she saw him. Her beauty was a very earthy and humble beauty. Even the young boy noticed this about her.
As the time passed the rose bush continued to flourish and began to display some of the most beautiful blooms in all of the area. Even the people that traveled to the next village spoke to one another of the beauty of the bush. There was no equal in the area. The soccer star had also been hearing these stories.
“Could this be the same bush that boy has been fooling around with?” he thought to himself. Curiosity got the better of him and he just had to find out. He walked the short distance to the spot where he had seen the boy before and to his amazement was a beautiful rose bush. It had doubled in size and was completely covered in blooms. “How can this be?” He said aloud.
“It is because of caring love that this bush thrives.” a voice behind him said.
He turned around to see the same young boy standing there with a smile on his face.
“Is this the same rose bush? Has it been replaced with a bigger healthier one? How has this happened?” the soccer star’s questions flew from his mouth.
Grinning from ear to ear the boy says, “Yes. This is the same bush. I have given it what it needs to grow and thrive. It is a simple matter. Has no one ever taught you?”
“No. I never saw the need to know.”
The young boy says, “Come. There is always a need to learn. I will teach you how.” The young boy brought the soccer star to a small bush a little further down the road. “This one will be yours. You will care for it and help it grow to be strong and beautiful.”
The soccer star was very hesitant at first because he was unsure about this new experience. The weeks soon passed and the bush continued to grow. The soccer star soon found himself racing down the road after practice to check on his rose bush. He was learning a great deal from the younger boy and started to think of him as a friend.
“Why is it that you are able to care for these plants even though people like me made fun of it?”
The young boy replied, “It is because I can see the inner beauty of things. Just as I can see the true beauty with people. My mother taught me that.”
“Your mother was very wise. My mother only ever said to achieve what I wanted to by physical means. That is why I learned to excel at soccer. So I could one day be a part of a professional team and earn money for my family.”
“You are blessed to still have your family. Mine have left me alone for many years now.” the young boy said.
“What happened to them? Why did they leave you?” the soccer star inquired.
“They were both bitten by a snake when they went for a simple lunch meal off the road. They did not have a chance to get help before the venom took both of them. The village elders said they looked for them when they did not come home that evening. It was a favorite spot of theirs and that was where the elders found them. The snake was no where to be found, but tracks from it had been found. There was nothing anyone could do about it.”
“I remember that happening. That was your family? I did not know they had any children?”
“I was sent to my uncle’s to live. They taught me what my parents did not. Once I was able to provide for myself, they let me return to live here.” the boy answered.
“You have learned much over the years.”
“One must when providing for himself.” the boy concluded.
The friendship between the two of them grew stronger. Although there was a difference in age, it didn’t affect their friendship. They would share many of their experiences with the other. They soon began traveling together to be with one another more often. The soccer star would go to the younger boy’s home and together they would go to the baker’s stall to get bread for the soccer star’s family. They were always greeted by the baker’s daughter with her brilliant smile.
She was starting to become a very beautiful young lady. It melted the soccer star’s heart every time he got to see her. He would praise her beauty the moment they were out of earshot of her. However, when they spoke with her, he was never able to find the words to speak to her. This disheartened the baker’s daughter because she had noticed that the soccer star had something different about him that she could not figure out. The trio kept this routine for days. The two males met the baker’s daughter, sometimes the older one would stammer out something completely incomprehensible and then the younger one would cover for him. It was beginning to look bleak for the soccer star.
One day as the two were traveling to the baker’s stall, the young boy said to the older that he should take her a rose from his bush.
“My roses are not nearly as impressive as yours. Why can’t I take one of yours?” the soccer star asked.
“It will mean more if it comes from you.”
Reluctantly the soccer star took one of his roses. As they approached the baker’s stall the young boy said under his breath, “Smile. Say nothing and give her the rose.” As they greeted one another in the usual manner the soccer star did as instructed. The baker’s daughter lost her breath when he presented the rose. Everyone was speechless at this point so the young boy concluded the conversation and the two departed on their way.
This new manner continued in the days to pass. The girl began looking for them whenever she heard voices. Many times she was disappointed when it was other villagers conversing as they went by. When the two special people she adored showed up at the stall her heart always soared into the heavens. One was a close friend and the other was someone she wished was something more.
As was the new custom, the soccer star handed her the rose, smiled and said nothing. The baker’s daughter gathered up her courage and asked, “Where do you get these beautiful roses?” As she winks at the young boy. “Does someone I know care for them?”
The soccer star proudly exclaimed, “I get them from the rose bush I care for. Someone taught me how to care for them.”
Disbelieving the girl looked to the young boy for confirmation. The young boy nodded in agreement. The baker’s daughter was speechless, she had completely misjudged the soccer star entirely. He had noticed her for quite some time and she had been unaware.
The next meeting would change everything. With the usual greetings exchanged, the soccer star gave her another beautiful rose from his rose bush. She thanked him for it and went inside for a moment. Returning with the rose behind her ear and a small basket of the most mouthwatering fresh baked bread, she smiled, handed the basket to the soccer star and said nothing.
Removing the towel that covered the bread, the soccer star was shocked at how delicious the bread smelled. “Did your father teach you how to bake this bread? I have never smelled anything like it before.”
Still smiling the baker’s daughter responded, “No. A dear friend taught me how. He said that one day I would bake it for someone and they would be blessed by it. Today I fulfilled that.” She gave the young boy a wink as she said this.
The soccer star was overwhelmed by the baker’s daughter. He soon began talking to her father in secret about marrying her. The baker agreed on one condition: That the young man love his daughter with as much love and compassion as he loved and cared for his rose bush.
It was agreed upon and they were soon wed. The young boy was given the seat of honor at the wedding feast. Everyone was very happy and lived out their years in happiness.