Joanna's Garden

Created by Jessica Benhamou, The Pitch 2017

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Joanna is a single mum, who is constantly caring for her elderly father, George. George is a passionate gardener, but an icy wind is threatening to destroy his plants. One Saturday, Joanna has to take her 6-year-old son to a birthday party and asks her siblings to help George that day, but both make excuses as usual. When Joanna visits her father after the party, she finds him unconscious in his garden and calls an ambulance. Her brother and sister rush to the hospital, only to be chastised by Joanna who holds them responsible for her father's condition. When George wakes up two weeks later, he immediately forgives his two other children leaving Joanna feeling unappreciated. She barely speaks to her father when she takes him home. There, they discover all the plants have died and an exhausted Joanna breaks down crying. Her father asks why she is so upset about flowers she didn’t plant or nurture. George asks her to show the same compassion for her siblings who he brought into this world and loves unconditionally. The next day, Joanna decides she needs to take care of her own garden and plants flowers with her son.

Biblical Connection

This story is inspired by a lesser-known passage at the end of the Story of Jonah. Jonah is angry that God has forgiven the people of Nineveh and seeks shelter from the sun under a plant outside the city. God sends a worm and then a vehement east wind to make the plant wither and die. Jonah is so miserable he exclaims, “It would be better for me to die than to live”. God tells Jonah, “You had compassion for the plant, which you neither labored over nor made grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?" This passage appeals to me as it highlights the power and generosity of unconditional love. God comes across as a relatable, paternal figure, who loves all his children in spite of their flaws. Anyone with siblings will also empathize with Jonah, who questions God’s judgment the way you might question a parent for being overly lenient with a sibling.