One day when he was a little boy his Grandfather had taken him up to the roof of their house. This wasn't so unusual as Grandfather and he often spoke and Grandfather often took him strange places while they did. They took walks in the park, journeyed to the sea shore. He'd always looked forward to the journeys and the conversations because the older man never treated him like he was stupid. Grandfather spoke to him. With patience and with wisdom he taught the boy to think while the boy soaked it, thriving under the tutelage.
Up on the rooftop, gray clouds scudded along the northern sky and the wind carried its moisture as well as the scent of apple blossoms back. The city normally glowed. Now in the aftermath of a summer storm, it more than glowed. It was radiant.
"This is our home. Everything you see before you is everything that generations of our family have died to create and protect. People will tell you that our traditions, our beliefs, are chains. Maybe when you get older, you may begin to think that as well..."
He'd opened his mouth to protest. No, Grandpa. I'd never make that mistake. But, just in time he caught himself. Grandfather was talking. It was for him to listen. But he still couldn't help himself from shaking his head in the negative. Just a fraction.
Grandfather frowned at him. "Maybe," he repeated, "when you get older you may think that as well. But I want you to consider our gardens. Look." A hand gently touched the boy's shoulder and directed him to the north end of the yard. Below was the main gardens. The perfect lines of roses, orchids, lilies and trees stretched before them. Color. Life. "They are beautiful, aren't they?"
"Yes, Grandfather," he said as soberly as his piping little voice could.
The hand at his shoulder shifted him again, "Now. Look at those gardens. The ones your brother was given charge of. Tell me of those."
The boy knew better than to speak without thinking his answer through. He studied the patch of earth and growth that his mother had given Tadao as a gift. Tadao had been polite enough but it was clear that a garden was not what he'd been hoping for as his sixteenth birthday gift. The boy didn't think that the small garden had been touched since that day, four years ago. Strangely enough, none of the servants had touched it either. It had just been left. Waiting for Tadao's hand or for no one's.
"It is all weeds." the boy said slowly. "There's still color but its bleeding out of the rows and the weeds are grown up in it. Its not solid and its...sloppy. Parts of it are dead."
"Very good. Why do you think it is that way, then?"
"Because... Tadao hasn't taken care of it?"
The silence from grandfather was an indication that more was required.
"Because... weeds grow faster than flowers. And... flowers only grow where they are tended. Weeds... grow anywhere? Where they aren't supposed to be. And... things that aren't cared for. They die?"
For a moment, he was afraid. His Grandfather's eyes were so distant. What had he said wrong? It was never a good sign when Grandfather was silent for so long.
"The universe is not a perfect place, child. Not in its natural state. Weeds will always kill the flowers if allowed their way. Men, without law, will despoil the beauty around them. Look well. See what happens to a garden without a strong hand to guide it and show the flowers where to grow. To prune when needed. To pull the weeds that threaten to choke out all color and life. Even more, to unify the efforts of color. Of life. To a common purpose and goal."
The boy shivered. He could see it. He could see how something beautiful was no more because nothing had brought it together. A flash of inspiration brought the analogy.
"Grandfather?" It was a request to be allowed to speak. The old man nodded.
"Might it be said that it is like a chorus of singers with no one setting the tune. The noise would be horrible."
Grandfather smiled and the boy straightened in pride at the tacit approval.
"It is the same. Now see that. See those images in the city in front of you. Look to what we've done here. I want you to see Osiris and believe in what order can accomplish."
The boy turned his dark eyes to the glittering buildings before him. To the people just starting to go about their lives after the cleansing rush of the rain.
"I see it Grandfather," he said gravely.
"... and I believe."
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