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The Persistent Dandelion


Mr. McGonigle looked out of his window and sighed.
The path to his front door was a disgrace. His wife was right, it really
must be resurfaced - and soon. It was so cracked and had so many holes
that the water collected into big puddles whenever it rained.
Someone was going to fall over and hurt themselves if it wasn't repaired.

Mr. McGonigle sighed again as he went to the phone to order
a load of ready mixed concrete to be delivered. A date was agreed
and Mr McGonigle changed into his oldest clothes and went outside
to get things ready. The truck was coming with the concrete tomorrow!

He broke up what was left of the old path so that there was a good layer
of stones waiting for the new concrete to be poured on top and put neat
wooden boards along the sides to stop it running all over
Mrs. McGonigle's flower beds.
It was hard work, but it had to be done before the concrete came.

Quite a few weeds had taken up residence in the cracks
so Mr. McGonigle pulled them out as he went along
and threw them into the wheelbarrow to be tipped
onto the pile of garden rubbish behind the old shed.

In the middle of it all there was a dandelion - it was a big healthy
looking plant and was well established in its crack.
Mr. McGonigle reached down, gave it a tug - nothing happened.
He gave it another, harder tug - and it snapped.
(Now, dandelions have a long tough root and, as any gardener
will tell you, it goes a long way down in the earth.
It takes a lot of digging to get it out!)
Mr. McGonigle was sure that it wouldn't matter, for he had all the leaves
and flowers in his hand - and nearly all of the root.
Anyway, what could grow through concrete?
And he was too tired to do more work that day.

Next day, as planned, the load of concrete arrived and their next door
neighbour helped Mr. and Mrs. McGonigle tamp the wet concrete down
using the edge of a wooden board and then smooth out the top layer.
When it had dried out a little they carefully made a pattern of lines
in the new path. That meant that the surface would not be
so smooth that people could slip.

Everyone stood back and admired their handiwork -
it was a great improvement on the old broken path.
Once the concrete was set hard and the wooden boards removed it looked
even better. Mr. McGonigle was glad he had made the effort
and organised the laying of the new path.
He had completely forgotten about the dandelion.

Down in the dark under the path lay the little piece of dandelion root -
but it wasn't dead - far from it! Soon a little bump appeared on the side
and the little bump grew and became a tiny shoot.
(Now, as any gardener would tell you, all shoots grow upwards,
always upwards looking for the light.)
So the shoot wriggled its way between the stones going up, up, up
by tiny amounts each day. All the time the shoot was becoming
bigger and thicker and stronger. Then it reached the layer on concrete
- but it just kept on pushing -
softly at first and then harder and even harder still.

It was summer time and the McGonigles went to visit their daughter
and their grand children for several weeks. They had a lovely time
and yet were glad to coming home - but as they turned into the driveway
of their house they just couldn't believe their eyes for there,
right in the middle of the splendid new path was - a dandelion plant.
Not only that, it had at least three flower heads and one of those
had gone to seed and tiny feathery parachutes were being blown
all over Mrs. McGonigle's flower beds. From the plant, cracks
spread out like the spokes of a wheel all over the new path!

Mr. McGonigle was so angry he went right up to the plant and tore off
all the leaves and flowers. But he pulled up even less of the root this time than last.
(As any gardener will tell you, it is always harder
to pull up a dandelion root after it has been snapped off)

"That's no use," said Mrs. McGonigle, " You will have to dig right down
and find every bit of that root!" But her husband didn't believe her,
so for the next few weeks he would go out every morning -
and find another tiny leaf growing. Angrily he would snap it off.
He even tried weed killer but that just made the leaves
look rather yellow for a day or two.

Mrs. McGonigle had been right again and so her husband changed back
into his oldest clothes and started to break up that part of the path.
This was even harder than before and he had to use a crowbar
but Mr. McGonigle was determined. Down through the concrete he went,
down through the layer of stones, down into the earth underneath
and at last he had removed every single scrap of dandelion root.
All of it went onto the rubbish heap behind the old shed.

This time Mr. McGonigle had to mix some concrete himself
and smooth it and finish it. Although he tried very hard the pattern
didn't quite match the other parts of the path - and the new concrete
was a slightly different colour. From then on every time the McGonigles
looked at it they were reminded of the persistent dandelion
- and how it never pays to take the easy way out.

Meanwhile, in the flower beds tiny dandelion plants began to grow
from the scattered seeds, giving Mrs. McGonigle a lot of extra weeding
to do; and in the rubbish heap a tiny bump appeared on the old root
.....and the bump became a tiny shoot which grew upwards,
looking for the light.
(As any gardener would tell you, the only way to destroy a dandelion root - is to burn it!)

And the moral of this story?
Sometimes tiny sins don't seem important - but they are,
for like the persistent dandelion,
they have a nasty habit of growing bigger
.....and bigger.....and bigger.

It is quite true about plants being able to break through concrete
and roads - in fact we have a dandelion that grows through the road
outside our house every year because the road makers did not remove
the root when they laid the road. Every year the road men spray it
with weed killer - and every year it grows again!

In case you live somewhere in the world where dandelions do not grow,
look at the background of this page.
It is a picture of dandelion seed heads.

copyright: Elizabeth Tolson 1999.

8th February 1999

A few days after this story appeared we received an e-mail from a friend who
pointed out that the story could have another, different moral!
" The dandelion could also represent the persistence we need
as Christians.
Before I reached the ending of the story,
I was thinking that Christians need to keep striving for the Light.
Nothing, not even concrete, can keep us from the saving knowledge
of our Lord - the Light.
Sometimes we feel like we are up against a brick wall
in our spiritual lives.
We hunger for the Word of God, but we aren't being fed spiritually.
If we keep our desire for His Word and for knowledge,
then the Light will shine for us.
We can't ever think we know it all or that we are full -
no longer hungry - for knowledge.
The more we know the stronger we become."

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me"

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