How do you know you are a Master Gardener? There is a decorative compost container on your kitchen counter. You would rather go to a nursery to shop than a clothing store. You prefer gardening to watching television. You plan vacation trips to arboretums and public parks. Dirt under your fingernails and calloused palms are matters of pride.
A catholic man's lifelong dream was to meet the pope.
For years and years, he scrimped, scrounged, and planned his lavish trip to Italy.
Wanting to look his best for the pontiff, he had a custom-fitted suit tailored to his exact measurements and bought the finest Italian leather boots money could buy.
The next morning he awoke before the dawn to make his way to Vatican City to meet the pope on his morning walk through his crowd of devout followers. He pushed his way to the front of the crowd, wanting to get as close to the Holy Father as possible.
The grand doors opened and the pope emerged, greeting his followers, shaking hands, and offering blessings. The man caught the pope's eye, and the pope smiled and started walking towards him. This was it! He was finally going to get to share words with God's representative on Earth!
Just as he was approaching the man, the pope noticed a downtrodden beggar lying in the ditch opposite the man. The pope changed course, made way for the beggar, bent down, and whispered something in the poor man's ear. The beggar nodded, got up, and walked off. The pope, now on the other side of the crowd, continued on away from the man.
The man was devastated. He had missed his only chance to fulfill his ultimate dream. As the crowd dispersed, he noticed the beggar in the distance. A plan emerged in his mind.
He made his way up to the beggar and said, "Sir, I would like to offer you a trade. I will give you my suit, my boots, and all of the cash in my wallet in exchange for your rags and tattered shoes. I believe this act of humility is my best chance to finally meet the pope." The poor man quickly agreed, of course, and the two men traded clothes.
The next morning, the man made his way back to the Vatican and proceeded to lie down in the exact spot the beggar was the day before. The grand doors opened once again, and the pontiff emerged to meet his people. As the pope was walking through the crowd, the man saw that the pope was heading his way! His plan was going to work!
Sure enough, the pope came over to him, knelt down and whispered,
"I thought I told you yesterday to get the heck out of here!"