by Hans Christian Anderson
This story is dedicated to my friend who has more inner strength then she knows.
It was wintertime; the air was cold, the wind sharp, but indoors all was snug and well. Indoors lay the flower; it lay in its bulb, under earth and snow.
One day the rain fell; the drops trickled down through the snow blanket, down into the earth, and stirred against the bulb, telling it of the world of light up above. Soon a sunbeam, so slender and penetrating, bored through the snow, down to the bulb, and tapped on it.
"Come in," said the Flower.
"That I can't do," said the Sunbeam. "I'm not strong enough to open you up. I shall be very strong by summer."
"When will it be summer?" asked the Flower, and repeated this every time a new sunbeam came down to it. But summer was far off; snow remained on the earth, and ice formed on the water in the streams every blessed night.
"How long this lasts! How long this lasts!" said the Flower. "I feel a tingling and tickling. I must stretch myself; I must extend myself. I must open up; I must come out and wave good morning to the summer; that will be a wonderful time!"
And the Flower stretched itself and extended itself against the thin shell that had been softened by the rain water, warmed by the blanket of earth and snow, and tapped upon by the Sunbeam. It burst forth beneath the snow, with a white and green bud on its green stalk, with narrow, thick leaves, curled around it as if for protection. The snow was cold, but light radiated down into it, making it quite easy to break through; and here now the Sunbeam streamed down with greater strength than before.
"Welcome! Welcome!" sang and rang out every sunbeam as the Flower rose above the snow, out into the world of light. The Sunbeams caressed and kissed it, so that it opened itself fully, white as snow and adorned with green stripes. It bowed its head in happiness and humility.
"Beautiful flower!" sang the Sunbeams. "How fresh and pure you are! You are the first; you are the only one! You are our love! You ring out the call of summer, lovely summer, over town and country! All the snow shall melt, the cold winds be driven away! We shall reign! Everything shall grow green! And then you shall have company, the lilacs and laburnums and finally the roses. But you are the first, so tender and pure!"
This was a great delight to the Flower. It was as if the air itself were ringing and singing, as if the Sunbeams were all penetrating the leaves and stem of the Flower. There it stood, so fine and fragile, and yet so strong, in all its youthful beauty, in its white kirtle with the green bands, praising the summer. But summertime was far off; clouds shrouded the sun; sharp winds blew on the Flower.
"You have come a little too early!" said Wind and Weather. "We still have power, and this you shall feel and have to comply with! You should have remained indoors, instead of rushing out here to display your finery! It is not the time for that yet!"It was bitingly cold, and the days that followed didn't bring a sunbeam. It was weather to freeze such a delicate little flower to bits. But there was more strength in it than even it realized. That strength was in its happy faith that summer must come, and this had been imparted by its own deep desire..... continued here
from the Hans Christian Anderson Center website