This was posted on an Internet list that I frequent, and reading it today touched me deeply. It is supposedly a well-known story that has circulated among the believers in China during persecution. I do not know who wrote it, but would be happy to give credit where credit is due if we can find a source for this story. Until then, enjoy an incredible story…
He sent out servants with instructions: Each hopeful applicant would be given one single seed today… one special seed to plant, to water, to maintain and care for, and in one year all were to assemble w/ their plants and the selection of Bride would be made from their offering.
The Kingdom was abuzz with the announcement, and everyone astounded by the wise Emperor’s process. Though it did appear to many, as a rare departure from his usual wisdom.
Among the maidens from far and wide we find a peasant girl named Ling. Returning home w/ seed in hand, excitedly telling her mother of today’s assignment, they secure clay pot and dirt and Ling plants her offering. Faithfully watering it daily, two and three weeks go by and nothing has come up. Four, five, six weeks and still nothing, though she hears other young maidens talking about theirs beginning to grow.
Six months elapse, and still nothing to show in her dirt and clay pot. With heart of hope sinking within her, she just knew she had somehow disqualified herself and killed the seed before it had time to grow. While reports kept coming in at how others had such strong and delightful plants and some even trees growing from the Emperors special seed.
After the year, and with nothing to show, Ling dejectedly decided not to even return for the final selection process, avoiding the humiliation, that peers were sure to give. But her Mother insisted that she follow through, regardless of the result. Finally Ling agrees to attend. Though it did seem such a waste in attendance exercise.
When Ling entered the palace with empty pot in hand, she was overwhelmed by the lush variety of plants grown by the other applicants—all manner of shape and sizes, lush and seemingly prosperous plants for sure. Yes, others eager to weigh her efforts, looked upon her empty pot, and with snickering mixed with sympathy coming from the other young women, it was so very hard to bear. So she slips towards the rear of the room, as if to hide.
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young women. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be chosen to be the bride of my son, who will in turn be emperor of this kingdom!” All of a sudden, as he was speaking, the Emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with her empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring her to the front. Ling was terrified.
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked her name. “My name is Ling,” she replied. All the women and servants were now laughing and making fun of her.
The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold the bride of my son! Her name is Ling!”
Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow her seed. How could she be the chosen one?
Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, you were each given a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers because when you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my true seed in it, untouched and not substituted with any other life. Therefore, she is the one who will be the wife for my son!”