Friday, November 2, 2012

The Secret Garden

   When I was a child, I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett's lovely book, The Secret Garden. As I grew into a teenager, I put aside the book for many years, only to rediscover it once again as a young woman. Its power over me remained undiminished. Even to this day, the wonder and the mystery of the timeless story still captivate and stir my soul. Dickon, Colin, Mary, and Ben Weatherstaff populate a corner of my heart and likely always will. In my mind's eye, I am there. I can see the robin as he leads the way to the secret door.

     I have no idea whether or not Burnett purposefully used the idea of a secret garden as a metaphor for the soul, but for me, it is an obvious and apt analogy. As a college counselor for many years, I worked primarily with high school juniors and seniors embarking upon the process of exploring and applying to colleges. Many of them were confused, frazzled and dealing with high levels of stress. They literally could not see the forest for the trees and more often than not, were unable to connect with their true selves. I found that if we spent time talking about the childhood book, The Secret Garden, they quickly grasped the essence of the bigger picture I was encouraging them to see.

   Each of us can benefit from tending our secret garden, the life of the soul. It is probably the most neglected aspect of our humanity. We assiduously feed and tend our bodies, exercising great care not to neglect our teeth, our hygiene, and our health, yet, we overlook the essential component that defines our reality, the essence of self.

     I believe that we were created and are image-bearers of the living God. We are His offspring, His children. Within each of us there is a deep longing to connect with something, someone who is greater that our sum total. We long to embrace a greater Truth, a greater Love, and we hope for the greater Redemption that only He can bring. We literally stand outside the Secret Garden and He holds the key that will open the door to treasures untold.

     C.S. Lewis, in his masterful essay, Weight of Glory, referenced and elucidated upon this very idea. Read these words of his and see if your soul is not stirred. If so, then I challenge you to begin or to recommit yourself to your quest. Follow the robin's song. Look for the Glory. It is not far from each one of us.

“The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.” 

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” 

    It is not "we shall get in," it is for those who believe the fact that He has already carried us by his Grace and Mercy across the threshold to experience the wonder of redemption and life everlasting. The Secret Garden is our home with Him. It is there that He whispers to each heart who would know and be known by Him, "Come away with me, my Beloved." 

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