Story for children: A Garden of Friends

Newry Cathedral News

A Garden of Friends. A new school in a new country.
Story for children

The first month of school made Maria feel like a wilting flower. She was shy and nervous in this new place where she knew no one. Maria and her family had moved over the summer from Mexico to Newry. She missed her friends and cousins back home. Everything here seemed different – the food, the language, the rainy weather.

During lunch, Maria sat alone. The chatter and laughter floating around the cafeteria made her want to wilt even more. She wished she could blend in. Just then, a girl with curly red hair and freckles came over holding a sandwich. “Mind if I sit with you?” she asked with a smile. “I’m Clare! What’s your name?”
“Maria,” she said quietly. Clare didn’t seem to notice Maria wasn’t talking much. She babbled on about school and her dog Murphy. When the bell rang, Clare said, “See you tomorrow, new friend!”

The next day Maria looked for Clare, but couldn’t find her familiar red curls in the cafeteria. She sat sadly by herself again. “Maria! Over here!” waved Clare from another table. Next to her sat two more girls Maria didn’t know. One had dark skin and a colorful headscarf. The other had almond-shaped eyes and long straight black hair. Maria hesitated. Clare waved again, so Maria went over and sat down. “This is Aisha and Ling,” Clare said. “We want you to join our garden!”

“Garden?” asked Maria. ” Yes! Our friend garden. Where all different flowers can bloom together!” said Clare. The other girls smiled and welcomed Maria. Soon Maria made more friends, each one unique. Patty was loud and funny. Samuel wore thick glasses and loved animals. Remi used a wheelchair to race around. Each person shone in their own way, adding to their garden’s beauty.

The friends met at break time or studied together. Maria’s favourite was their Friday pizza parties at Clare’s house. She felt happy and accepted, not so shy and alone anymore.
One day, Clare noticed a new boy looking lost during lunch period. He had tan skin and socks pulled high. “That’s Oliver, he’s from Nigeria,” whispered Aisha. “Poor thing looks wilted. We should invite him to our garden!”

The friends waved Oliver over. Though confused at first, a smile soon grew on his face. By the end of lunch, he was laughing along to Patty’s jokes. Their flower garden had grown by one more.

During the Religious Education class, Maria’s teacher read: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Maria thought about her new friends who welcomed her so warmly. She realised this was the key to their special garden – it was rooted in God’s love.