The Narcissus
By Mary I. Farr 
An ancient parable tells of a child who visited a garden of wisdom with her grandmother.

As they wandered among the radiant sprays of delphinium, foxgloves, roses and delicate turks cap lilies, the old woman told her granddaughter about mysterious healing qualities of flowers. She spoke of roots and petals crushed into secret potions, exotic therapies, magic elixirs, soothing teas, and bewitching perfumes.

As they ended their walk, the grandmother invited the child to select a flower bulb to plant in her own garden. After inspecting the thick, dark tubers, the child made her choice and slipped it into the pocket of her dress.

"This is a very special bulb you've chosen", said her grandmother. "It is called a narcissus, and you must cultivate it with great care in order to gain all of its healing benefits. In fact, the first thing you must do when you get home is place it in a dark spot, and leave it there until it begins to sprout. Once it grows roots, you can take the bulb into the daylight and plant it in the garden with the rest of your flowers."

The little girl promised to do as her grandmother said ..... at least until she got home.

Then, after finding just the right place in a cellar closet, the child could not resist opening the door every hour or so to see if the narcissus had sprouted. Each day she jumped from her bed, raced to the damp, earthen room and peered through the shadow into the closet. And each day brought another disappointment. She wailed to her grandmother who listened politely but only encouraged patience. Secretly the grandmother removed the bulb from the cellar, washed the dirt away and examined it with a reading glass ..... Nothing.

Then one day, after the little girl had given up hope of ever seeing her narcissus become a flower, her grandmother called from the cellar steps.

"Look here", said the old woman. "Something has happened to your bulb."

The little girl gasped in disbelief. Indeed, something HAD happened. The bulb had grown a hardy set of roots, and from its top poked a soft green nub. Sure enough, the narcissus was going to bloom after all, and after she had give up hope.

And this is how the narcissus came to be known as the flower of the new heart. As is the case in our human lives, real growth often takes place in darkness. God and healing most often meet in the unlit places of our hearts. It is the winter days and violet nights that invite us to send down roots ..... to grow in courage and hope, coaxed into spring and toward the promise of a new heart.