I share with you a beloved story by many. It is adapted and greatly shortened from Oscar Wilde’s short story called “The Selfish Giant”, 1888. Please read the beautiful short story in its entirety.
“The Selfish giant lived in a huge castle of course and had a beautiful garden full of beautiful flowers and green swaying palms trees, and there birds gathered to sing. Whenever the Giant was away the garden would fill with children who would sneak in and play. One day the giant returned home unexpectedly and caught the children in his garden and he became very angry driving the children out of the garden. Then he posted a huge sign, and built a high wall locking everyone out. Then a strange thing happened. Spring returned to the land, but when Spring came to the Giant’s garden and read the big sign “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” Miss Spring refused to enter. So old man Winter stayed on, and the garden had only four visitors; they were Snow and hard hearted Hail, and the freezing North Wind and Ferocious Frost. The four of them played fiercely keeping everything dead all the year long while the giant sat in his dark gray castle and wondered why bright and light and cheery Miss Spring never came and the birds never sang.
One day the children decided to sneak back in. They climbed into the trees and an incredible thing happened. The snow instantly melted and each tree blossomed. The giant saw all this from his castle window and was astonished that for once he did not act in anger. He even noticed one little boy crying looking sad and dejected because the boy could not reach even the lowest branch of the shortest tree. So the Giant swept up behind the boy and took him gently in his giant hands, and placed him up in the tree.
At once the tree bloomed with white blossoms and the birds came and sang in the tree. The little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them around the giant’s giant neck and kissed him.
From then on, the children played in the garden. With his own ax the Giant knocked down the wall he had built. There was one stranger thing; the little boy who kissed the giant never returned. The other children said they had never seen him before, and did not know who he was. Years went by, as they must even in fairy tales, and the giant grew old and weak, as people do even in some fairy tales. He also grew wiser and kinder, loving everybody. He did not even hate old man winter now, for he knew is was just Spring sleeping, and that the flowers were resting.
When Spring returned the giant would look out from his window and thought to himself, I have many beautiful flowers, but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all. The giant’s only joy was to watch the children play.
One day he spotted the little boy again entering the garden all alone. The giant’s heart jumped with joy as he ran out to meet him, and swept him up into his giant hands, but he was shocked and horrified, his face turned red with rage. For on the two little hands of the child were the prints of two nails and on both feet of the child were the prints of nails. “Who dared wound you?” cried the giant; “Tell me so I can take my giant sword and slay him”.
“No” answered the child; “these are the wounds of Love.” As the giant knelt in wonder the child smiled and said “you let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, it is Paradise”. That afternoon, when the children ran in the garden they found the giant lying dead under his favorite huge tree, he was covered with all white blossoms.” The end.
All too often we can forget that we are all children of God, and that is how God sees each of us, as His child, and that is how we are to see one another; no matter how old we may be. All too often we can forget just how much we are loved by God¾and so God reminds us in this gift of Easter every year. Easter is about love made real to us, love that knows no limits, child-like love that is triumphant over the giants of evil in our world. Easter is a new beginning for many of us, a Spring time when we are called to roll away the giant stone, or tear down the walls of all that keeps the dark of winter inside us, to let the laughter and light and joy enter into our blossoming garden-hearts. And to help do the same for others. So that we reflect the love that Jesus has for each one of us and to know that we too one day will be able to play in the garden of paradise because of the one who took upon himself those wounds of love for each one of us. Happy Easter!