It Doesn’t Pay to Be Grumpy

The way things were going, Carlos wasn’t doing well in his work at all, let alone in his life… There had to be a way to help him!

In a small village, José was preparing for another day of hard work at the market. His sons, Gabriel and Marcos, aged seven and nine respectively, loved to accompany him. As soon as their school day was over, they would run to join their father. The two boys were very imaginative and they often got involved in unusual adventures, but they never meant any harm; rather, they were always cheerful and obedient.

Saturday was the best day of the week, since they could spend the whole day with Papa. Gabriel and Marcos would load the cart with the fruits and vegetables they had grown and head to the central square, where an eye-catching stand would be set up to sell their goods.

On the way, José prayed with the boys, asking the Blessed Virgin to bless their work and grant a special quality to their produce. As they prayed their Hail Marys, they saw Carlos transporting flowers on his mule. But something was wrong: he was noticeably grumpy and… he was talking to himself! From a distance they could hear him complain: “After all that time I wasted on all of you, you’re already wilted and ugly. There is no point trying to sell flowers like these! Who wants to buy dead flowers?” And then, turning impatiently to his mule, he cracked his whip and shouted: “Let’s get going, you good-for-nothing! Do you want to waste even more of my time?”

With each reproach, the mule became more discouraged and the flowers “sadder”. They lost their colour and drooped, while something similar happened to Carlos himself. Dejected, he lost the will to work!

One after another, the market sellers arrived at the square, setting up their stands and displaying their products. Gabriel and Marcos thought it would be interesting to observe the grumpy man. It was then that they noticed the state of the flowers:

“Gabriel, just look how fast they’re dying. They weren’t so wilted when we saw them on the road.”

“I feel sorry for the poor little mule; he looks a hundred years old! Mr. Carlos isn’t happy either. What’s the matter with him?”

Soon the customers arrived. José’s produce seemed to have come from the Garden of Eden! The buyers, enchanted by their colour and aroma, were full of compliments:

“Really, José, your fruit must have come from Paradise!” exclaimed one lady.

“Even the vegetables I don’t like to eat look delicious!” added a little girl, pointing to an eggplant.

Everyone left satisfied with their weekly shopping, but the flower stall was a real disappointment! The customers tried in vain to greet the owner, but far from returning their kindness, Carlos continued to complain and “insult” the lilies, roses, carnations and daisies, which were terribly “hurt” by such harsh words.

Intrigued by the situation, the two lads tried to think of some way to show their neighbour that it doesn’t pay to be grumpy, which would help him with his sales and, above all, with his life, which was not looking good…

“Gabriel, I just remembered something!” Marcos exclaimed.

“What’s that?”

At church, Fr. Daniel told us that they once set up beautiful arrangements in the chapel for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, and there were lilies among the flowers. Now, as you know, lilies have a strong scent. Some people weren’t happy about that, since they said the smell was overpowering and it got in the way of the prayers. The priest told us that since several people were unhappy and had complained about the smell, the lilies – just the lilies – lost their fragrance and wilted sooner than usual.”

“How strange! How could flowers know what people said? It seems like magic,” pondered the younger boy.

Well we asked Fr. Daniel to explain it to us, and he said that all creatures are connected to each other, although in a way that we do not perceive with our natural senses. So, if a human being, who is king of creation, is in a bad state of soul, living out of harmony with the law of God, the wrong things he does hurts other creatures, and it is as if the whole order of the universe resents it.”

“Wow, that’s amazing!”

“Yes, it is. I think that is why Papa’s produce is always of good quality, because he lives in peace with God and has a good heart. Now, take Mr. Carlos, with his bitter words and his grumpiness … He doesn’t act like that because the flowers are wilted, but the flowers are wilted because they are suffering from the darkness he carries in his soul.”

“And can you think of a a plan to fix this situation?”

Pulling his little brother by the arm, Marcos replied:

“Yes, come with me.”

The two of them approached Carlos’ stand. The older boy started a conversation with his younger brother, who soon caught on to the scheme:

“The feast of our village Patroness is coming up. Don’t you think those tulips would be excellent to decorate the statue’s bier for the procession, Gabriel?”

Yes, and those daisies! They would be wonderful, too, wouldn’t they?

I think they would go well with these colourful roses. An arrangement like that would look perfect with the statue of Our Lady.”

“And what about those orchids? They would be beautiful on the altar.”

“Oh yes! Mama liked them so much last year! Speaking of Mama, her birthday is coming up… What if we gave her some lilies as a present? We could tie them with a silk ribbon, and add a little card – she would be thrilled!”

Carlos, spying the two boys, decided to put an end to the “chatter”:

“Get out of here! You are creating a disturbance!”

The brothers pretended not to hear, being absorbed in conversation.

“Lilies remind me of that passage from the Gospel, when Jesus said that not even Solomon was dressed so finely,” said Marcos, and the two earnestly carried on with their plan.

As the innocent children spoke, the flowers began to recover their brightness and colour. Though no one saw it, Angels were descending to the flower stall, restoring the beauty that elevates souls to God!

Carlos, seeing what was happening, stared in amazement. Tears sprang to his eyes as he confessed:

“Deep down, all my bitterness stems from my envy of others, especially Jose.”

At the words of the two innocent children, the flowers began to recover their brightness and colour. Staring at this wonder, Carlos felt the mercy of the Queen of Heaven shining down upon him, and from that day forward he became a true example of admiration in the village

Yes, just like his plants, the flower of admiration had faded in Carlos’ heart. However, he now felt the mercy of the Queen of Heaven shining upon him due to a lesson learned from the two children. After that episode, the once grumpy man became so open to admiration, so delighted with the good of others, that he became a true example in the village. In this way, the Angels began to cultivate a garden of virtues in his soul.

From then on, Carlos was a happy man, for he had discovered how envy and sadness take the beauty out of everything, while admiration gives life to life itself, giving us a foretaste of heavenly joy already on this earth! ◊



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