A Sojourn Original Story: about inherent goodness and having bad days

Quinn’s Garden

Quinn’s day seemed to be doomed from the very beginning. Her alarm clock didn’t go off at 6:30 like it normally did so she only awoke when she heard her older sister running through the hallway shouting about her missing shoe. Waking up late meant that Quinn didn’t have time to get ready the way she normally would. She threw on her clothes and ran downstairs to have some breakfast. She rushed around the kitchen and in her haste spilled cereal all over the floor. Just as she swept up the last of the Corn Flakes from the tile floor, her mother walked in and seeing her said, “Oh Quinn, you’re still here? That means you missed the bus! I’ll have to take you to school after I drop off your brother. Go get in the car, quick, or we’ll all be late!” 

Quinn usually took the bus to school because her school start time conflicted with that of her little brother, Micah. Missing the bus meant that she had to tag along in the car while her mother took Micah to elementary school. Micah insisted they listen to the same song on repeat the whole way to school. When Quinn complained about it, her mother told her to be quiet and not make Micah feel bad. “Make him feel bad?” she thought, “what about me?” 

When Micah had finally got out of the car, Quinn thought she’d finally be able to listen to her own music. She thought wrong. Her mother had to take a work call on speaker phone and asked Quinn to be absolutely silent the whole way to her school. Her mother ended the call just as they pulled up to the local middle school where Quinn attended. As she parked her mom said, “I’ll walk you inside and sign your tardy slip. I can’t believe you missed the bus!” Quinn wanted to explain about her alarm clock not going off but before she could her mom began asking her about her homework. That’s when Quinn realized she forgot her homework in her bedroom at home. “I guess your homework will be late too,” said her mom, sounding exasperated. 

Quinn hoped that her school day would bring some relief from what was feeling like a really rotten morning. Walking into first period late didn’t get things off to a good start. She missed the first twenty minutes of science which put her behind. And when she got to math class she had to explain that she didn’t have her homework to turn in. In the hallway on the way to lunch she tripped on her own shoelaces and as she fell she smacked into a boy who was bending down putting his books away in his locker. 

On and on, Quinn’s day was full of mistakes and disappointments. At lunch she said something that came out sounding differently than how she meant it and she was pretty sure she hurt her friend’s feelings. In social studies she drifted off in her own thoughts and then got called on to answer a question she didn’t know the answer to. By the end of her school day she just wanted to curl up in bed and watch a t.v. show to forget this day ever happened. Getting on the bus to go home never felt like such a relief. But when Quinn arrived home she realized one more thing she had forgotten for the day: her house key. Quinn was the first to arrive home in the afternoons so she normally had a key with her to get in. Instead she’d have to sit on the front porch for 20 minutes or so until her family members started showing up from school and work. 

Quinn’s sister, Taygen, who goes to high school was the first to arrive. “What are you doing on the porch?” was how she greeted her. Quinn was resting her head on her knees and didn’t even bother responding. “Hello, earth to Quinn!”  

“Oh, I forgot my key,” she replied. “Well, come on, let’s go inside,” Taygen told her. Quinn went straight for the pantry for an after school snack but she couldn’t find anything other than some cans of tomato sauce and beans. “Mom said she’s going grocery shopping with Micah when she picks him up from school today, they’ll be home later,” explained Taygen. “Well, thanks a lot!” Quinn snapped. She wasn’t actually angry at anybody but her bad day was catching up with her and she just snapped. “What did you say to me?” Taygen responded. From there the girls spiraled into the biggest sibling fight their household had ever seen. Taygen blamed Quinn for her missing shoe and a whole bunch of other missing items as well. Quinn yelled at Taygen about all of the messes in the house and eventually they both stormed off in separate directions. 

Quinn went to her bedroom in tears and just curled up on her bed staring at the wall until she heard her mom and Micah return with groceries. Feeling like if she didn’t get a snack in two seconds she might just faint, Quinn raced down the stairs and plowed over her brother who was in the hallway. She rushed over to the grocery bags and started unpacking them, tossing things aside until she found what she wanted. Her mom watched her for a moment and then told her, “Quinn, why don’t you help put all of that away instead of just tossing it all over the place to get what you want.” 

Quinn knew it wasn’t a big deal really but it was the end of a terrible day and she just couldn’t take another second of it. She dropped the snack on the counter and ran through the house to the back door and out into her garden. This is often where Quinn ran to when she was upset. She’d sit alone in her garden and cry and yell and maybe do some yard work while she was at it. It always made Quinn feel better to put her hands in the dirt and take care of her plants. She had a whole section of the backyard that was dedicated to her personal gardening. She had planted tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, and many wildflower seeds. She sat on the stone wall that lined her garden and the tears just came in waves now. Then Quinn noticed the only thing that could make this day worse. Her Gerbera Daisy was completely brown and crumpled, dead. She knew her Gerbera Daisy needed more watering than the rest of her plants but she totally forgot about coming out to her garden for the last few days. She felt like a failure at everything. As she sobbed freely she cried out, “what is wrong with me?!” 

Quinn hadn’t at all realized that her mother had followed her into the garden and was standing directly behind her. When Quinn shouted, “what is wrong with me?!” her mother gently wrapped her arms around her while sitting next to her on the garden wall. Then she began running her fingers through Quinn’s hair while she whispered, “absolutely nothing, baby girl, absolutely nothing is wrong with you. You are good. You are created in the image of God and God has called you good. Don’t you listen to any other voice, just God’s whisper over your life. You are good. You are good. You are good.”  

Quinn took some deep breaths and felt a little calmer at the sound of her mother’s voice and the embrace of her mother’s arms. “But, Mom!” she cried, “I’ve had the worst day possible and it’s all my fault. I’ve done everything wrong. I’ve messed everything up! It’s a rotten day and I feel rotten. I even let my Gerbera Daisy die!” 

“Sweet Quinny” her mom said, “Listen to me, look around at your garden and tell me something, are these plants you take care of, are they good?”  

“Of course.” Quinn answered. 

“What about this Gerbera Daisy that’s crumbled up and brown? Is it good?” her mom asked. 

“Well, the Daisy is good, yes, but it’s all wilted and dying and….”

“Quinn,” her mom interrupted, “these plants, even this wilted Daisy, they are good, all the time. They are beauty and life and all that is good. Sometimes they wilt. Sometimes they don’t bloom or produce fruit. But when that happens we don’t get mad at the daisy and tell it that it’s bad. We always recognize that the plants are good even when they have bad days. What do we ask about the plants when they are wilting or not producing?” she asked. 

Quinn thought for a moment. “We ask what they need? We take extra care of them.” she answered. 

“That’s right, Quinn. You’ve had a rough day. You’ve made some mistakes, sure. And some things just didn’t go well. Some things were just plain rotten. But you are good. Let’s ask a better question. Asking what’s wrong with you isn’t the right question. Instead let’s ask what you need? Let’s figure out how to take care of you properly. You need a snack, I know that. You probably need a new alarm clock.” 

Quinn managed to laugh through her tears. “Yah, a new alarm clock would be good.” 

“And Quinn, you need your mom to comfort you and care for you. I’m sorry that I snapped at you today. I should have realized you were having a rough time and helped you instead of getting after you.”

“Thank you, Mom.” said Quinn as she relaxed into her Mother’s arms. 

“Your garden is beautiful, Quinn, remember the story of the garden of Eden where God looked at everything God had created and what did God say about it all?” her mom asked.

“That it was all good, very very good.” Quinn answered. 

“That’s right, my Quinny. Good. Very good. You are good and this Gerbera Daisy is good. Now let’s see if we can trim off the dying leaves, move the plant carefully into a more shady spot and water it. Remember, Quinn, don’t ask what’s wrong with you, ask what you need to thrive. Just like these plants, you are good inside and that doesn’t change even if you have a bad day.”