They seem so different from ferns. I like the feel of the fuzz on their vines.
Larry has been trying to make the tomatoes grow for the past two weeks. They didn’t have the same deep green as the ferns. Their lives were not as delicate. Still, there was a different type of peace he was gaining from working with them. The monk in charge of the garden had not been able to get the tomatoes to grow. They would look flower but then get sickly looking and the flowers would fall off.
Larry had looked up this problem in his gardening book. The problem might be caused by several possibilities: too much nitrogen in the soil, getting too hot, or not getting enough water. The monk came several times a day to check the garden; it couldn’t be not getting enough water. If anything, the garden was cool; its location at the top of the monastery, which was already on top of a steep hill kept it cool rather than hot.
Larry had asked the monk about testing the soil for its composition. Unfortunately, there was no money available for something like this and Larry had spent the only money he had on the gardening book. Larry felt the soil, wondering about the nitrogen. Something urged him on to just do an experiment. He went to the monks’ workshop and swept up the wood chips and wood dust from their making their own furniture. He then went to the garden and spread it around only half the tomato plants- just in case it might hurt rather than help them; his book said this might reduce the level of nitrogen in the soil.
By the end of the first week of this treatment, Larry began to see an improvement. By the end of the second week, the plants that he had treated had exchanged flowers for beautiful tomatoes. He was so excited; he ran through the courtyard to the workshop to get more wood chips and dust for the rest of the tomato plants; he had figured it out!
Suddenly, his smile was wiped off his face. It wasn’t because he was remembering to be humble. It was because he heard this deep male voice in his head saying, “it was just an accident. You are too stupid to figure anything out.”
Where was this voice from? It didn’t sound like any of the monks. Whose voice was it?
Larry had never heard anyone speak harshly like this at the monastery. It was important to be humble within the brethren. However, humble didn’t have anything to do with making mean or hurtful remarks any more than prideful ones. The monk in charge of the garden had smiled at him and given him a pat on the shoulder for figuring things out with the tomatoes. This had felt very good to Larry. But, he realized that he shouldn’t work hard in the garden just to get a pat on the back; he should work hard to help the monks- to help others.
Larry was learning about their ways, slowly but surely. When the monks had their first tomato salad, and some nodded at him in silence, he just looked down. Larry knew their nods meant his efforts were appreciated; he didn’t need to smile or gloat about it.
He fell asleep at peace. But it didn’t last through the night. He tossed and turned around midnight, experiencing a very disturbing dream. He was in a dark basement and he was hearing that deep male voice from before. Now it was saying, “you’re a useless piece of shit. I am tired of seeing your ugly face. I hate the very sight of you.” He saw a belt go up in the air headed towards him and that was it. He was fully awake and covered in sweat. He was absolutely terrified, but he still didn’t recognize the voice or know what the dark basement represented.
Larry heard a gong. He had to run to the showers to clean off the swept and still be in time for morning prayers. On his knees, Larry tried to pray but the regular prayers refused to come out of his mouth. He then tried to focus just on asking God to explain what was happening to him. Again, the words couldn’t come out. Somehow, instead he kept wondering if he was too useless to deserve God’s help.
Why is Larry so disturbed by some insults he heard in a dream?
Should he just try and forget them?
To learn why you shouldn’t ignore these warning signs of emotional abuse, read: