Listen, children, and hear my story.
On a cold, damp day, as the drifts of snow melted off the final shaded crannies of the forbidding stone structure, Sprout was born. Hers was not an auspicious birth, with nary a soul to be found amidst the haunting halls of the long forgotten bastion of a race that had long since passed on.
Sprout's first days on earth were hard and desperate. Tendrils shot in every direction, questing for the smallest morsels of life giving earth or water and finding naught but the occasional dusty corner.
Then, when it looked as though Sprout was not meant to survive in this desolate place, she found a tiny crack partway up a wall. It wasn't much, but it was enough to hold moisture against the brutal rays of the violent sun, and it held just enough earth and dust to support a bit of growth.
By now, Sprout was aware of other growing things, not exactly nearby, but within sight of her scrabbling struggles. One and all, they heaped scorn on her humble beginnings. "You cannot grow there, you pathetic thing," they told her, whilst laughing and lapping up the waters of the nearby stream. "You'll never survive," they mocked, as their roots took hold in the gentle soil of the earth outside.
Still, Sprout was not one to lament her terrible situation, and she quested deep into the crack and grew patiently. "You'll be crushed in that tiny space," they said. She ignored them. "You can never grow there." She grew on. "Pathetic child," they mocked, "you'll be gone in no time."
Over the years, Sprout watched the plants outside, with their easy lives, as hardness befell them. She did not judge, but was oft surprised as flowers, grown big and tall in the fertile soil, were torn away by the winds of a storm, or as the shrubs died when the brook dried up that one year. Time and again, she saw the plants who had everything destroyed when they faced hardship they had never known.
Every day, Sprout push and strained, struggled and fought, sought, and occasionally found. She grew strong, but the strains of her life were apparent. The plants outside scorned her gnarled shape, and mocked her mottled surface. "You are not beautiful," they said. "Why do you go on?" She never answered.
Thrice, and thrice again, and thrice three times more, did the seasons change from spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, then back to spring. Sprout had watched easy lives end many times, and had become quite stoic. Still she struggled and fought, silently, until the day when there was a racous crack that whipped through the air. The pressure all around her eased just a bit, and what had been a smallish crack in the wall was now a veritable rent.
Sprout had only known a hardscrabble life of toil and hard fought growth. She continued in this brief respite as she had always done. Though she soon filled the available space in the crack as she had before, her roots quested ever deeper. Year after year, she reached into the depths, for the crack had sheered straight through the foundation capstone, and let her into the crumbly sandstone, limestone, and shale beneath. Strength built against basalt was more than sufficient to work its way through these softer stones.
Sprout was patient. She continued to grow and fight. She persevered until her roots extended all the way to the aquifer below. Then came the calamity years. The brook dried up. The earth outside became fallow and poisoned. The soft plants who had mocked her for her entire life began to disappear, until none were left.
Sprout had no idea what events had transpired to cause the calamities, but it was with a deep and abiding sadness that she watched the passing of all other nearby plants. Still, she weathered on, drawing nutrients and water from far below.
Time passed, and Sprout grew weary. She had been alone for so long that she barely even remembered the times of teaming life outside of these stones. The calamities had gone, and the world around her had returned mostly to normal, but the verdant life had not returned. Still, she was stolid, and she continued working, growing, expanding in her inexorable way.
It was so very cold on that day. Rain had seeped into the crack with her, and was slowly freezing and expanding. Her roots ached from the added pressure and the chill. But then, between the work she had done for so many years, and the added work of the weather and the expanding ice, the crack crunched, shifted, and half the edifice which had trapped her for so long fell away. The crushing weight and pressure of stone was gone.
Sprout stretched her weary body, and began to spread out. For the first time, she had the space to thrive and access to all she needed to grow. Reaching into the fresh soil, she spread her leafy arms out and began to grow in earnest. All at once, she blossomed, and with joy, released many young sprouts to be.
Our world was populated with life anew. Sprout passed on into legend, and we still remember her to this day as the mother of all.
Now, children, when you see someone tired, struggling, or just fighting to survive, remember what you have heard this day. Do not heap derision and scorn on the unfortunate. Their strength may be all that stands between a world of life, and the world of death it could become.