A concerned father consulted with the town’s priest about his son.
“Padre, my son is good at heart but he has developed a new taste to lie. He lies about everything. He is so convincing we cannot tell what is true and what is false. He says it is only harmless fun and that he knows what he is doing. But I’m worried. Can you help?”
The priest said he would try his best. He knew the boy well and they were fairly friendly. They met when the priest sometimes joined in with the boys’ football matches on the green.
When he next saw the boy, the priest suggested they take a walk through the orchards. They basked in the afternoon sun and made small talk about school and home. The boy quite liked the priest who had once taught him how to tackle a bigger boy in football. Everyone knew the priest was cool and friendly.
Passing a small garden, the priest noticed some tiny weeds growing near the flowers.
“Bother, I cleared this area only yesterday and now the weeds are back. Do me a favour boy, just pull those new ones out please,” the priest said.
The boy shrugged. He knelt down and easily pulled the delicate weeds out of the soil.
“Thank you, that was easy enough,” said the priest.
The two of them walked on until the priest halted again. He looked at the flower beds to the left; some sunflowers stood tall and cheerful.
“Do you think you could pull one out for me to take indoors?” said the priest.
“Should be okay,” said the boy as he reached over to tug at the plant. Without much trouble, he uprooted the stalk and handed it to the priest.
“Marvellous, it is beautiful, thank you.”
They walked on for a moment until the priest stopped again. He pointed to a bush.
“That bush is diseased; see its yellowing leaves. I’ve been meaning to unearth it. Do you think you could do it for me?”
“Sure, I can try.” The boy smiled. He felt this was some kind of test of his strength and he liked to push himself and prove he could do it. He stepped into the vegetation, crouched on his feet and took hold of the thick stalk. He pulled hard. Nothing happened. He took a deep breath and tried again. The bush shook and moved. With a great deal of effort, he managed to loosen it out of the earth and triumphantly held it with both arms.
“Excellent,” said the priest, “you can throw it over there.”
The boy dusted his hands and clothes down. They walked on until the priest stopped again. This time he stood in front of a tree.
“Do you think you could uproot this tree?” he asked.
“Impossible, it’s huge and has deep roots,” said the boy. In jest, he wrapped his arms around the trunk and tried to move the tree. “No way, I can’t do it. I would need special tools or something.”
“Hmm, I think you are right,” said the priest pleasantly. He patted the boy gently on the shoulder. “You know, it’s the same with habits too. They start off weak like baby weeds and then with more and more practice they grow deep strong roots in our heart and behaviour. Can be tricky if it’s a bad habit because it usually feels like you’re in control but as you do the thing more and more, the habit becomes strong like this tree and is difficult to uproot. What do you think son?”