Archive for the ‘secret garden’ Category

I closed my eyes and visions formed,

Just like I slumbered in a dream.

The things I saw were all surreal,

It had me drifting so serene.


The magic that I thought had gone,

Had somehow found its way again.

The child that had been lost inside,

Within this dream had come to play.


In the moon light glow I spied a form,

With silken wings so fine.

It danced upon the golden dunes,

Beside the ocean deep and wide.


As quickly as the vision came,

So it had faded into night.

I knew it would come back again,

Another day it would take flight.


So I made a wish upon a star,

That glistened in the velvet sky.

A thought I had which came and went,

Within a tear drop in my eye.


Now I wait for dreams to be,

For faded hopes to shine once more.

The past is gone the future’s here,

A child waits near life’s open door.







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What is it that a child sees within their mind? What dreams will come true, unfolding then drifting like the mists of time as they traverse the known and the unknown realms that exist within the deepest reaches of time and space? Could the innocence of a child be all that was needed to open the door to that mystical, magical place that rides parallel to that which we know? Is this the place through which paper boats laden with thoughts and wishes shall sail, going far beyond the horizon to the nether reaches of the widest oceans before returning, ragged, but intact all the same, carrying the answers to the questions that we have sent?

As the small boy stood with his arm outstretched, he waved his hand as if it held a mighty sword, yet within his steely grip was a simple pen and in his other hand was a single piece of parched white paper upon which he had scrawled but a few carefully chosen words. The sun shone brightly bathing him in its soft yellow glow as it held fast for the last part of the day, and the stiff breeze that blew from across the dark blue ocean stung his skin as it carried the salt filled air. His coat battered against his leg like a loose tent flap in a storm, with a hollow, yet sharp sound like that of a cracking whip. He stared across the ocean into the distant unknown and there, just above the horizon, the vapours of a large dark cloud twisted and turned into shape. His eye in tune with a wild imagination saw large dragon form, bathed in the red glow of the sun, and from its mouth spewed forth the electric blue fire of lightning and the rolling roar of thunder that accompanied it carried across the ocean to where he stood in awe. So much never did cease to amaze him, and so often he would stand alone and ponder the intricacies of life and death.

Elsewhere, a small girl huddled in the solitude of The Garden of Life. The soft pink bows that tied her long dark hair and the pink runners with spangled sparkly pink laces gave only a little away of who she really was. She watched as the glow of the dragonfly and butterfly ornaments that adorned her garden bed changed colour before her ever wondering eyes like a rainbow light show. Some time ago she fell from the Tree, bruised and battered from the blows that life had dealt her and it was here that she landed, here that she felt safe and secure in a place full of blissful moments that would sustain her when no other moment could. It was warm like a soft feather doona, and on the darkest of nights with a clear sky, she could count the millions of stars that shone from above, carrying her back for just a moment to where she would grab a fleeting glimpse of her past. Long gone were the memories that had filled her days with joy and laughter, replaced by the careful, considered thoughts and words that now filled her life. Yet she was gaining greater courage with each passing day and week, and although she did not realise it yet, the time would come once more where the magic of being a child would carry her away.

He was small, but he was strong, with his words belying the true self that he had become, and as the sun bade him farewell for another day, so the stars began to twinkle in the blackness of the night, greeting him like a million children all wanting to share in the wonders his words would bring. He turned his back to the dragon in the distant sky that had faded like so many of his childish dreams, and he walked slowly along the path that wound its way through the undulating sand dunes, marked by the finger print lines of the wind. The ripples in the sand twisting and weaving like a snake from a story he once knew, ready to pounce and take him if it so chose. No longer did the stiff winds batter his tiny body, instead replaced by a soft breeze that now carried him in a drifting state as though his tiny feet did not touch the ground. Onward he went, into the Magic Forest, where fireflies danced like tiny candles suspended from an invisible string, their light painting him in an eerie glow as they went about their business. Faeries darted here and there, every now and again coming in for an inquisitive look, before disappearing once more, visible to only those that believed in their existence, and he certainly believed they were real.

With his long white hair and blue jacket he was a sight to behold as he bounded here and there, with the exuberance of the imaginative child that he was. Often he would pause and turn quickly as he tried to spy some cheeky faerie as it played hide and seek with him, giving a little giggle each time he succeeded in catching a glimpse. “Hello,” he called as he stood in the clearing, but all that returned was an echo from the hidden places deep within the forest. He called again, this time louder with more purpose, at the same time with a saddening desperation that his friend for whom he searched may hear his cry. Again it was only his echo that responded, with the fading repeat as it bounced from tree to tree. He had sailed many paper boats and for fleeting moments she had shown herself, but like a ghost on a calm dark night, she would appear and then fade to be lost once more, never managing to grasp her dreams for much longer than she felt safe. He looked mournfully around, yet here and now in the stillness of the forest he knew that she may not come again, but he could only believe.

As the stars sparkled overhead, through the clear roof of her garden, she looked to find just one that may come to life and smile ever brightly upon her. Ever so carefully she climbed to her feet, stretching her weary body and offering a tiny yawn before sliding the door to her Garden open.  She peered out into the dark distance with all the unknowns obscured by the shadows cast, yet she felt compelled to take another step beyond the comfort and safety she had found. She had been stirred by a soft familiar sound which had now faded into the hum that filled her head and in the darkness she had felt drawn to some far off place, but still a part of her was tied to where she had been hiding. In the starlight, an old metal swing glistened, smudged with the brown rust of time, and it creaked as it moved ever so slightly in the breeze as if calling her to sit once more, encouraging her to break the bonds that had restrained her for so long now. As she stepped through the doorway, she let her fingers slip free from her hold on the last piece of what had protected her, and at the same time she let her mind drift almost becoming numb until she found herself sitting alone upon the wrought iron etched seat of the swing.

She felt a calmness wash over her, and as she looked at the scars carried by the nearby statue, so she saw herself, recovering from what she had endured and this put her even more at ease because it was a sign of what could be where there once was no hope. As she sat in contemplation, the last chirping of the small birds that filled her garden could be heard emanating from the nearby bushes in which they had made their homes, and it was as if she understood the stories they were telling of what the day had delivered for them. With the calmness that surrounded her, she began to drift back into that childlike state in which her memories had begun to stir once more, and she began to wonder now if it could ever be the same again. She could only believe, but she did not want to be dashed upon some rocky shore, never to be found, so she would be cautious and only time would tell what was to be.

Of all the things that he had seen and known, there was no one thing that stood out more in his imagination than any other, and as he stood in the opening of the magic forest, he gazed all around. The many dreams, the many tales came flooding back into his mind like a giant picture show that played his life like one big fairy tale. He was mesmerised by it all and the journey that he and his small friend had taken before she disappeared. They had sought out courage and strength, truth and believing and with this they had conquered the darkness and set alight the candle of life that still burned strong. They had seen the best and the worst that the world had to offer, but they had never once given up, and the Magic Forest stood as a testament to who they had become. As he looked, he could see the twinkling of the first star with all its magic and wonder, and nearby the tiny dragonflies and butterflies that flitted from flower to flower in the soft dusk light, each with its own purpose, each with its own meaning in the cobweb that life had woven magically for them.

As the last ray of the sun burst from beyond the horizon, it reached out like a finger pointing, and it reflected from the distant ivory tower, sending a glint of light as a reminder that some thing’s still remained and that only with time and patience would they be tamed. The rainbow colours that had adorned it had been replaced once again by the stark white paint of before, yet he hoped that his tiny friend would see beneath that. He hoped she would remember what it had become and the adventure that had unfolded on a bright summer’s day a long while ago when she had been rescued from its upper most confines.

He heard a sound, and as he turned he saw a fox dancing in the nearby wheat field, as if chasing some imaginary child as is leapt here and there. As he watched the fox, he remembered a tale from his past and although he could see the fox he wondered if like his friend it was truly there or just vision from that parallel world which may or may not exist alongside our own. He turned his gaze looking once more deep into the night sky with all the stars that now shone like tiny diamonds, and then to the deeper colours of space that made this canvas upon which they were laid even more wondrous. A shooting star raced across the sky, burning bright then fading, and as it did he cast his wish before it disappeared into the distance behind the tall wide silhouette of the Friendship Tree. If he did not know better, he would have imagined that it had landed within the Tree itself but then that was the magic of his simple imagination.

Sitting quietly on the metal swing, the small girl felt the breeze of a butterfly kiss upon her cheek, and as she did so she closed her eyes to dream. Ever so slowly the old metal swing began to squeak as she was rocked back and forth. The sound was reminiscent of the old see saw on which she had found herself not too long ago, and as she opened her eyes, the soft light of the rising moon lit up her smile and for just a moment she thought she saw the silhouette of a dragonfly she had once known. She closed her eyes once again and in a moment a shadow flickered upon her eyelids, tempting her to open them once more. As she slowly opened her eyes, she sat aghast at the ethereal form of the small boy that wandered before her, side to side as if searching for something he had lost, yet he did not see her. He was calling for her, and even as she called back, he could not hear. He came close to where she sat on the swing and with her tiny fingers she stretched to touch him, calling his name as the swing made its forward motion, but as she did, so he disappeared. This left her with a lost and empty feeling as though the future had come then gone in the instant that was time as she had come to know it.

In the distance a voice called softly and she placed her feet on the ground stopping the swing in mid motion, and as she listened intently the familiar call drew her from the darkness of where she had been into the eerie glow of the moon. At the same time the small boy also heard a familiar voice and as he watched, a soft light began the radiate from the Tree in the distance. The fox stopped what it was doing, then turned and watched as the smile on the face of the small boy grew ever wider before it too was drawn forward, cautiously moving to where the Tree stood bold and strong. The small girl had let go of all that had held her, abandoned all the fear that had so consumed her, and as she ran, the laces on her pink runners danced like octopus tentacles to a silent tune. As she came closer to the tree, she recognised the shape that was her friend on the path that wound from the forest in the other direction and she called, as did he. They both stopped at the bottom of the tree, puffing and panting.

“Where have…….” She stopped him before he could say another word and she explained as best she could. “I tried, and I knew that everything would be alright, but at the same time I just could not see as clearly as I usually do.” He wanted to say something but she was so full of words and after all his paper boats he was glad to just let her speak. “I had forgotten it all, everything that I had learnt, all the simple things you had shown me, and worst of all I had become lost in my own little world, drowning in everything that had overcome me.”

He needed not say anything in return, because he understood and all that mattered was that she was back. A soft mist began to drift across the valley floor like the white foam on the incoming ocean tide. It tickled their feet as it rolled across their shoes, drifting in tiny wisps of vapour. The fox stood there, first raising one paw, then replacing it before raising another in astonishment as the mist wrapped itself around it. The two friends climbed into the tree, and lifted the fox up with them, and as the mist filled the valley floor, all around them looked like the ocean. In the pale moonlight, the fox lay its head upon the wide branch and fell asleep, whilst the two friends talked in endless conversation, making up for the time that they had not spoken over the long last while. This was not the end, nor was it the beginning. It was where they were now, it was where the journey they were on had placed them and they knew that there were more adventures, more wonders to be seen, greater lessons to be learned. Today there would be no magic, no more than the simple words written on this page, the magic of words on their own. For now they were just two friends sitting in a tree, filling the Book Of Dreams with words that told of something unique, but at the same time something that others would one day embrace and find of their own as well.

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Can you see the little girl in pink overalls with eyes wide and full of wonder, almost hidden in the garden? She used to explore this secret space every day but she hasn’t been here for many months, and now she marvels at its transformation. At this moment, she is totally transfixed by the stunning, still, silent woman standing against the backdrop of hedge like a monument to some past era, serene upon a sandstone platform. Surely she has been carved overnight by the gentle hands of faeries and sprites! The stone folds of her long dress flow like fabric, eternally unaffected by the breeze that blows. The large stone basket she carries is filled to overflowing with invisible violets. How the child’s face floods with a flush of delight!

Slowly, she draws herself away and deeper into the garden where more secrets and surprises are certain to unfold. A tiny tear rolls down her pink cheek as she makes her way along a short, straight length of path, its pebbles punctuated by defiant weeds. Where did all the pretty purple cat-tail grasses go that she used to caress gently as she walked? And when and why did they die? Will they ever return to their sweet softness, swaying gently in the magical breeze? She laments what is lost, but hiding deep inside her tiny heart is a seed of hope that – one day – what has been lost might somehow be restored.

The child skips then ambles as children do down the path as it starts to wind towards the old metal swing, creaking on its badly rusted hinges. Just before she sits, she detects an unexpected echo of the exquisite statue she had seen before. Ashen grey compared to the other, large breaks are evident throughout her motionless body. There are enormous scars where she has been shattered by circumstance beyond her control, snapped at the waist and wrist and shoulder – so utterly broken. Yet someone had seen past her brokenness and decided that she should not be discarded. Carefully and kindly, they had searched the undergrowth and found her missing pieces, then taken time to fix each fragment meticulously back into place.

And now here the silent woman stood, scarred but intact, disfigured but somehow more noble and beautiful because of all she had been through and the value she now held because she had been saved from the scrap pile and been restored. Her imperfections spoke of the kindness, grace and mercy of another, and this proved that mankind was truly capable of honour and goodness. The child shed a tear and smile simultaneously at the sight and the revelation, then continued her ambling way down the secret garden path.

Again, the lesson repeated itself. At the very end of the garden path, flowering bushes had once stood strong, providing solitude and seclusion for anyone wishing to delight in the garden’s secrets. The child remembered a time when violent winds had blown the tall, flat-faced, purple lassiandras to the ground, exposing the garden entirely to those who would never otherwise be invited in. Then tiny magnolias, sweetly called ‘Little Gem’, had been planted to replace them, with a hope and a dream that one day these would fill the space and protect the garden’s secrets once more. The last time she had seen these little ones, her heart despaired at how overgrown they had become with weeds, how overrun they had become with other lesser plants that seemed intent on their destruction.

But now what was here? Not a weed to be seen, and the lesser plants themselves had been removed, destroyed. And here indeed were the three magnolias, not overcome, but carefully transplanted to fill the space, without threat or competition. The child’s heart leapt inside her. Like the broken statue, she had not doubted that the little plants would have been surely doomed. But here they stood, proclaiming all the strength of their potential to become even more than they were before, to grow past what had tried to kill them and to transform the small, secret world that surrounded them with all the strength and beauty that only hope and resilience and recovery can bring.

And though the girl with pink bows tying back her hair was only a child, that was all she truly ever wished to be. A Grown Up might walk down the garden’s weed-strewn path, only to think ‘Statue. Missing plant. Another statue – broken. More insignificant plants.’ But the eyes of the child could see that everything in this secret garden had been dreamed from nothing. When it had been broken, it could be repaired, to have even more value for having been lovingly restored. And she saw something of herself in the three Little Gem magnolias, once doomed to be overcome, now destined to feel the sun kiss their supple stalks, empowering them to soon become all that they were truly meant to be.


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The white haired boy followed the long and winding path with its white pebble surface crunching under each footstep taken like the sound of rice bubbles at breakfast. The soft pink daisies that lined the path, with the deep red roses scattered here and there with their heady perfume made the journey pleasant to say the least and the sunshine added a warmth that was life giving. He had only walked this path several times before, but in a desperate attempt to find his little friend he travelled it once more listening intently for the smallest sound of giggling in amongst the bird song that echoed from the trees all around him.

As he ambled further along the path it grew cold like winter with an icy chill in the air that stung his lungs as he breathed, with the warmth within now forming steamy breaths as he exhaled. When he looked down, he noticed the pebbles had turned from white to dark, and the daisies and roses were gradually disappearing or withering where they had once grown strong. He listened again for the familiar giggling, except now it was in the stillness of the air, which was no longer filled with the happy sounds of the singing birds. He rounded the final bend in the path and he stopped mid stride as the remnants of the beautiful secret garden unfolded before his eyes. A tear began to form, and as he walked amongst what was left, lifeless and cold, he could hear the gentle sobbing from the furthest reaches of the garden. He moved quietly past the statues that lay toppled on the ground around him, and then in a moment he saw her. There on the rusted see-saw he found her sitting and staring into the last soft pink cloud which was floating aimlessly in a now dark and imposing sky. Her overalls were worn and her ragged pink bows dangled from her hair, and she was looking tired and worn out with her ashen face drained of all that she once was.

She had not seen him and he watched as she tried in vain to make the see-saw work, pushing off with her tiny feet, rising just a little and then falling back down once again. No matter how hard she tried, the see-saw just would not work. With a soft grunt, she gave one last desperate try before she gave up, and then she bowed her head into her hands and cried. She was strong, but it was obvious this was too much and he felt sad for her, but he knew what he could do. Quietly he walked by her and without her knowing he took hold of the other end of the see-saw in his tiny hands. He whispered “are you ready?” and with that she lifted her head and with a surprised look she gave a broad smile. He pulled down on the timber seat and climbed on board. Ever so gently they pivoted, perfectly balanced. He smiled and then he explained.  “You know I have been searching for you, don’t you?” He asked in a soft tone, with a welcoming smile. She shook her head gently, at the same time bowing down and replied. “But I thought I could do this on my own, and I didn’t want to bother you.”

He smiled at her kind of sheepishly and shook his head. “You know I told you that I would help, but then I guess I knew you would try to do this on your own first.” She looked back and smiled, because she knew he was right, and sometimes she was just too proud look for help, but then he understood, because sometimes he did the same. “Well I am here now, so I guess we better get to it? Are you ready?” She nodded excitedly and as he pushed with his feet, the see-saw gently rocked upwards and as it did the rusted hinge creaked as if mimicking the words, see-saw, see-saw. Then, up she went and with each movement the sun began to break through. The clouds had begun to clear with the sun shining on where they sat, and as they continued the see-saw began to free itself from the rust that had bound it and the tired squeaking noise no longer could be heard. Around them, the flowers began to come to life, with their perfume so delicate and sweet. He spoke to her about all the amazing things they had already seen and the many amazing things that were yet to come. The many times they would play with their friends and the adventures the four of them would have together. His words filled her mind and her tired body gradually came to life with the smile on her face telling of the joy she had once again shared with her friend. He believed he was magic, but more importantly, she knew he was. His softly spoken words were like air and water, and when he spoke she came even more to life.

           “My friend, I had so worried that you had disappeared, but somehow I knew where you would be. You are strong, but with your friends you are stronger. We are all here for you and we will share this journey together as four, never alone as one.” She nodded in understanding, because sometimes she just needed reminding. Sometimes we all just need those that care to remind us of the simplest things that would need never be said between friends, but at the same time don’t hurt to be all the same. The garden was once again restored to its glorious beauty, and full of life. Then in a while they could hear footsteps moving ever so quickly on the path leading to the garden and the sounds of laughter and voices as well. They stopped, sitting now quietly, and they looked intently in the direction of the entrance to the secret garden where the girl in the red dress came running in, and alongside her was the boy with the long dark hair with that special twinkle in his eye for the girl in the pink overalls. They ran and hugged her, because they too had been searching. The white haired boy looked on, with a smile in his mind, because he knew one day that this would make a special story to be told a retold when everything is good and well. Here they were all together once more, all sharing the same journey on the same path, on one amazing adventure together, with many more to come.

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Ladybugs are strong and bold, perfectly round, utterly robust,
Able to lift tremendous weight with tiny, shiny wings.
Completely bright, bringing sheer delight whenever they appear –
A small and most beloved jewel, sparkling in the gardener’s sight.

Dragonflies are ethereal, their deep magic embossed on
Filigree of impossibly long, iridescent wings.
Appearing, disappearing, appearing again,
The ever-present Spirit trembling over still and troubled waters.

Butterflies flit upon the breeze as though no-one else can truly see their
Origami paint in flight, fluttering in the garden’s light.
Strength and frailty intertwined in such a fragile, bright surprise,
But butterflies are nothing without ladybugs and dragonflies.

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It was late in the afternoon and the soft warm light of the sun gently bathed the ground. She slowly walked the short path to her secret garden once again. It had been so long since she had taken the time to do this and she had almost forgotten the pleasure she experienced and the calmness that being there afforded her. She turned the last corner and stood staring at the swing hanging gently from the thick branch of the tree that held it suspended. It was empty, although she knew it would be, there was a part of her that had longed to see her two dear friends sitting and waiting, then for a moment the thought washed over her and a sadness pulled at her soul as she wondered if they themselves had forgotten about her. She was tired and as she approached the swing, the rusted links of the chain that supported it each holding tight to the next, again reminded her of the friendship she had missed.


She sat down on the seat with its weathered timber, old and grey and looked around at all that was before her. So often before, she had come here and at the same time her imagination had started to form visions that then became words which spoke of the most wonderful stories capturing the hearts and minds of all those that read them. Today though she was just tired and there was nothing to be seen. Gradually she began fall asleep, with each second her eyelids becoming heavier as the dream weaver took control. In no time at all she had drifted to a place where her mind had taken control and ………….


She opened her eyes, feeling so refreshed, as if she had been asleep for a hundred years. She looked into the night sky and the stars that she had become so familiar with and it was as if she could see the faces of her friends standing before her, but then she new this was only the imaginings that her friend the white haired boy had taught her to see. Then from the darkness two faces appeared bathed in the moonlight. From the distance it wasn’t clear but as the light reflected off her red shoes and the gold buttons on his blue coat sparkled, a smile formed upon her face and she clasped her hands together in sheer delight.


“Hallo,” she called out. They waved and walked holding hands to where she sat waiting. They sat down next to her on the swing and she looked at them with her sparkling eyes, at the same time giving a shrug and a smile. “Where have you been?” they enquired. “We have been here each day and you were no where to be found.” She gave a little frown and explained that she did not know where she had been. She could not remember anything except for tiredness and confusion and all of a sudden she feels much better. They sat and talked for ages and as they talked she started to remember things, scary things where she was running here and there, answering this and answering that and then making plans, big plans that were so important. A frown came to her face and as her friends looked on, the white haired boy spoke. “You know, nothing else matters right now. All those things you were doing are in a different time and place, and now we are with you and we can have fun.”


They played all night and then told stories, reading many of the new words from the Book of Dreams. They had so much fun, just like they always used to, but she was still sad inside, because you see, today was her birthday and it was special because she was turning eight. Her friends had not said anything and, well, you know how important birthdays are. ‘Oh well she thought?’ After a while she sort of forgot all about it and as the sun began to rise and her two friends told her they needed to go because they had things to do, but they promised her they would be back tomorrow and that they hoped she would be there to play again. As she said goodbye watching them walk away, again holding hands, a tear formed in her eye, rolling down her cheek and landing on the ground at her feet, and from where it landed, a single flower began to grow. ‘It’s only a birthday,’ she thought to herself, I could have reminded them, but at least I know we are friends. She closed her eyes for a moment as she watched them walk into the sunlight and ……………….


Angelica woke suddenly as the warm sunlight flickered through the leaves upon her face. ‘She had just had a bad dream,’ she told herself, which made her smile somewhat in relief. She glanced down and noticed that a rose had grown whilst she slept, which made her think about the dream she had just had, then as she looked up again, the sunlight was broken and a shadow fell across her face. Looking up she could see the two silhouettes, the familiar outlines of her friends she had not seen for a while. “Hello,” he called out. She smiled back and said “Hello LP, hello LR. I must have fallen asleep here last night.” They giggled and sat down next to her on the swing. Just like she dreamed, they had wondered where she had been and told her that they had missed her. She told them all that had happened in the last weeks and how she was just so busy picking up the pieces left behind by someone else. The two friends shrugged and smiled, and told her they understood. He asked her if she knew what today was. She pretended not to know as best as she could, then his friend in her soft red dress explained, “it’s your birthday silly.” She smiled as if unknowing, then said, “I plain forgot with all that has gone on.” He stood and reached into his blue coat, and from it he pulled out a gift. “We didn’t forget. We would never forget. What sort of friends would we be if we did?”


They gave her the gift and hugged her. “It’s nothing much, it, it is something we just thought you would really appreciate.” The small square box was wrapped in the most beautiful pink paper with pink and blue butterflies, and roses decorating it. She unwrapped the gift and then looked on in amazement. It was a glittering mobile, with butterflies, ladybugs and dragonflies gently dangling from the many strings that came from its top. He gestured to her to raise it up and as she did, it glistened in the sunlight and they watched on in total wonder. Then he pointed to the light that was reflecting all around and there were words, words that spoke of friendship and happiness, words of childish thoughts and stories scrolling like the credits on a Hollywood movie. She smiled and clapped and then hugged them both. She did not dare tell them her dream, but at least now she knew that they did not forget her and she was pretty sure that this was one wonderful friendship that would last forever. They spent the rest of the day talking and playing as they always had.

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One warm summer’s day, a brightly spotted lady bug and a butterfly with iridescent pink wings like oily paper rainbows flew as far as their delicate wings would carry them, deep into the secret heart of the Magic Forest. Their friend, the blue dragonfly whose outstretched wings could sometimes eclipse the moon’s magic glow, could not accompany them on this adventure – for this was theirs and theirs alone. They fluttered down the narrow rainforest path and alighted upon a tall wooden signpost shaped into an arrow declaring the direction of ‘The Swing’. “Follow me,” the butterfly seemed to say, her pink wings spreading to follow the dusty trail to a large bare circle of earth beneath the thickest limb of an enormous oak tree. 

Suspended from the solid branch by the strongest metal chains, and surrounded by the tall trunks of many lesser trees, swung a heavy wooden swing.  The lady bug followed the butterfly to rest briefly upon the swing, their soft landing barely making the old swing sway or creak at all. They sat for a brief moment in the dappled light that soaked its way through the rich leafy treetops. It was much cooler in this clearing than in the warm world they had left outside the circle on the other side of the path. Then the butterfly beckoned the lady bug to follow her to a nearby tree stump. They landed closely side by side, as though anticipating the arrival of some unknown visitor or visitors to the clearing.

Soon, two children ambled slowly down the path towards the swing. A small girl in pink overalls with bows in her hair led the way; her little friend in a pretty red frock followed a few steps behind. The girl in pink beckoned her companion to remove her sandals and to climb up onto the wooden swing, and soon the girl in the red dress was gliding gently through the air on the swing, tentatively at first, then with increasing gusto. While she swung, her friend searched for a long, sturdy stick, and when she had found it, she began to mark a large circle in the dirt around the perimeter of the clearing. After she had drawn the large circle once around her swinging friend, she traced over it in the dust again, as if to truly reinforce it, then lay the long stick on the ground, blocking the path’s exit.  Picking up her friend’s sandals, she placed them gently but firmly on the other side of the stick, beyond the circle she had drawn. All the while the girl in red swung higher and higher into the cool, dappled light.

“I have brought you here for a reason,” the girl in overalls explained, now sitting upon a pile of leaves atop a nearby tree stump. She noticed a pink butterfly and a lady bug with sparkling spots resting beside her, and she imagined that they were listening intently to the words she spoke to her friend on the swing. “For some months, you have swung back and forwards between joy and sadness, between fear and certainty, between love and mistrust.” The girl in the red dress clasped her hands a little tighter around the strong chains from which the old wooden swing continued to rock steadily back and forwards, back and forwards. “Now with the energy you use to swing yourself higher and higher, try to push sadness, fear and mistrust from the inner core of your soul, sending it out through your pointed toes and into this old tree stump, releasing it from yourself and into the stump forevermore.”

The barefooted girl on the swing sighed deeply. How she wished to release her fears, her sadness and her misgivings forever. But the feelings always seemed to be locked so deep inside her, ready to swing backwards again after each brief moment they managed to swing forwards. Each time she would declare herself free – soaring, gliding! – only to find herself swinging backwards yet again with her very next breath. Swinging slowly now allowed her to look deeply into her heart. “Yes,” she decided. “Now is the moment I have waited for for many months. Now is the moment that I shall be truly free forever.” And with that thought, she leaned herself back fully on the swing, surrendering herself to the dappled sunlight that streamed through the tallest leaves and branches and onto her rosy cheeks. Every trace of the fear and sadness she had brought with her into the circle dissolved. And at that moment she knew that she would never be the same again.

Her friend in pink sat silently in awe of the transformation she witnessed before her. She watched as a small dark cloud centred over the other girl’s heart seemed to lift, travelling slowly, steadily upwards along the chains of the swing, past the tallest branches and back into the sky where clouds belong. But like a balloon that floats from the hands of a child into the sky, transforming slowly from a bright, beribboned ball into some vague distant speck, the cloud dissolved, disappearing – never to be seen again. Light and lightness washed over the girl in the red dress like a steady stream of speckled sun, her face aglow with complete serenity. Raising her body from where it now lay almost still across the wooden swing, her eyes met those of her friend in pink, resting like a butterfly on the nearby tree stump.

The ladybug and the butterfly watched in awe as the two girls now stood before the decaying stump, just above a large knot-hole. Solemn but smiling, the children gathered handfuls of leaves and twigs and stuffed them deep into the stump’s hole. “These are the fears you used to cling to,” intoned the girl in pink. “And these are the doubts that used to fill my heart,” her friend in red replied. Then they each gathered a handful of dust and sprinkled it over the knot-hole. “Now they are locked inside this stump forever,” they said together, “Never to be released.” A magical breeze blew threw the clearing, causing the swing to sway ever so slightly, as though taking on a life all its own. “See?” the girl in pink overalls smiled to her friend, “We have this butterfly and this lady bug as our witnesses.”  The deepest, strongest serenity had found its long-awaited place in her dear friend’s blue-green eyes that now radiated a new kind of confidence and joy. She moved slowly away from the stump which held her fears locked inside forever, each step taking her closer to the stick her friend had laid across the exit of the clearing. 

“I’m ready to leave this all behind me,” she beamed. And she stepped outside the circle her friend had drawn twice in the dust, over the stick that formed a barrier between the past and the future, and into her sandals which seemed to sparkle just a little in the dappled sunlight. “I don’t need to come back here again. I’m ready to move forward into a whole new adventure.” The lady bug and the butterfly sat quietly by as the two girls embraced, linked their arms, then made their way back down the windy dirt track and out into the bright new world that awaited the new fearlessness of their friendship.

As the girls disappeared from view, the butterfly and lady bug flew their way gently over to the old wooden swing as it swayed slowly in the magical breeze. For at the precise moment when the girl with the pretty red dress and the serene smile had put her sandals on, the old tree stump – with her fears locked tightly inside – had slowly begun to disappear from all existence.  And, as can only happen in the truest of fairy tales, in its place a magnificent red rose had begun to grow, small and fragile at first, then blossoming and blooming with all the strength of the sun itself. Its sweet, heady fragrance overwhelmed the clearing, filling the magic forest with more beauty than it had ever known before. It was a fragrance that would linger for all of time, drawing many other sad souls to the swing, helping them to find their eternal peace. 

Years later, a small boy in a long blue coat made his way down the long dirt path, guided by awe and wonder, then by the fragrance and the warm red glow of the magical rose. He had heard the legend of The Rose and The Swing many times during his eternal childhood, and he had earnestly longed to see them for himself. As he entered the clearing, he sat upon the old wooden swing where once (legend told) a pretty girl in a red dress and a butterfly and a lady bug had gently landed and a magical transformation had taken place. But before he climbed onto the swing, his eyes followed the shimmering wings of a sparkling blue dragonfly as it danced upon the magical breeze to land upon the petals of the legend’s red rose, still glowing after all these years in the fullness of beauty. Beside the rose was a small bronze plaque, and upon it were inscribed these words:

Here on this spot an old stump stood,
A remnant of decaying wood. 
Now in its place this sweet rose grows
So everyone who passes knows:
You can release the fears that bind –
So free your heart, release your mind.
The sadness that once filled your face
Is now eternally erased.
So sit and swing here for a while
Forever to become the child.
Please join your voice with mine to sing
The Legend of the Rose and Swing.

The young boy wiped the happiest tear he had ever cried from his sparking blue eyes. Yes, this truly was the most magical place, and the magic breeze caught his feet from under him and sent him rocking gently on the old wooden swing. He did not need to look skywards, for he already knew that the branch that held him was stronger than any branch of any other tree that had ever grown. He leaned himself back fully on the swing, surrendering himself to the dappled sunlight that streamed through the tallest leaves and branches of the most beautiful tree in all the world – the magical, eternal, legendary Friendship Tree.

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