Friday, June 17, 2011

Secret Garden

“And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree-trunks, and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair, fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first, but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.” (The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett)

“I think it’s possible to forget how alive we really are. We can become dry and tired, just existing, instead of really living. We need to remind ourselves of the juice of life, and make that a habit. Find those places inside that jump for joy,, and do things that bring out your best, most magic self.” (Inspiration Sandwich by SARK)

Magic: (figuratively). “An inexplicable and remarkable influence producing surprising results; an enchanting or mystical quality; glamour, appeal. Also: exceptional skill or talent, inspired accomplishment.” (OED online)

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

A few years ago, my clever husband transformed an outgrown tree house into a gazebo in our side yard. I did not know this, but when he built the tree house with the boys, he planned one day for the floor to be lowered to ground level in case he wanted to put a shed up. We already had a shed, so we made a gazebo instead. It became my Secret Garden retreat.

Last year, I neglected this space. This spring when I went out to scrape paint and to spruce it up, I decided it was too much work, so I told my husband he could tear it down if he wanted. I just didn’t seem to care about it anymore. Yet some little children had not forgotten about it. On a Saturday not so long ago, I was talking to my nieces and nephews on Skype. They range from almost ten to four years old. The almost ten year old asked about the Secret Garden, and then they all chimed in. "Can we see your Secret Garden?" Even the four year old wanted to know about it, and she was just starting to toddle the last time they had visited and we played there.

I told them I needed some children to come help me restore the garden.

As a child I was enchanted by the story of three young people who found a neglected garden, and secretly began working to restore it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I would ask my mother and three sisters what was a favorite story from their childhood. Unanimously they each individually mentioned The Secret Garden. The magic of that story has stayed with each one of us. I am sure we each would have different reasons why it meant so much to us.

For me it is the joy of seeing something that was neglected being restored to its former beauty. It reminds me of the work that God does in our hearts. How when we delight ourselves in Him, as He delights in us, our lives are made new. Desires are rekindled, we want to run and leap for joy. Even when we feel dry and worn out, we can count on God to bring the restoring life of the Spirit in-- to remind us that life is worth living.

Inspired by four little children, I went back out to the gazebo this week. I scrubbed it clean and decided to not repaint the floor. I gathered some items from around the yard and house, creating a little retreat for me to sit and read. Maybe I will dust off my copy of The Secret Garden.

I would love to hear about one of your favorite childhood stories from a book or even your own life.

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