Hope and direction can come from unexpected places when someone feels he has lost his way. Years ago, at a time the future looked really bleak to me, a little book came along to boost me out of my funk. Hope for the Flowers awakened new hope in me.
When my daughter was about ten years old, someone gave her this book for Christmas.
"Mom, will you read it to me?" she pleaded.
At the time, I lived in a state of perpetual exhaustion. I was the single mother of three children. I was a working mom, trying hard to forge a career. I was a housekeeper, cook, laundress and chauffeur. I was depressed and I was tired.
"OK," I told her, "but only ten pages. We'll read a little each night until we reach the end." Hope for the Flowers is not a big book, with only a little over 150 pages, and many of them have illustrations. But ten pages were all I thought I could manage.
I began reading, and much later than I expected, I finished. "The End."
The little book was mesmerizing. I've never really known what the author Trina Paulus had in mind whan she wrote this story about two caterpillars named Stripe and Yellow. I initially thought it was a children's book. After all, it had been a gift for a ten-year-old, and it was filled with pictures. But after reading it, I wasn't so sure.
Apparently, I'm not alone. Over the years, I have given Hope for the Flowers to many people. I never know where in a bookstore I'll find it. Sometimes, it's in the Children's department, sometimes Philosophy, sometimes Self-Help. Amazon describes it as a story for ages seven and older. The book's cover says that it is "a tale--partly about life, partly about revolution and lots about hope for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read)."
Whatever she had in mind, Trina Paulus produced a book that is so much more than an entertaining little story (though it certainly is that). This anecdote illustrates that more than anything I could say.
Years after reading the book to my daughter, I was a department manager at a software company. A member of the department was just not working up to par. We sat down to talk about it, and I asked him what the problem was. He told me that he didn't know if he really liked his job, even though he had spent his college years preparing for it. He sounded really discouraged, and I didn't know what I could do to motivate him to do better.
The next day I brought in my copy of Hope for the Flowers, and suggested he take it home over the weekend and read it. On Monday morning, he returned the book to me, along with his resignation. I was stunned!
"But what are you going to do?" I asked him.
I've taken a job with my brother-in-law," he answered, looking happy for the first time in months. "I going to be a fishmonger."