“The Secret Garden” is a magical tale written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It tells the story of a pampered young English girl who, after living all her life in India, loses her parents and is sent to live with an unknown and mysterious uncle in a large, gloomy house in England. There she encounters a 10-year-old bedridden male cousin who, because of loneliness and frustration, is given to angry outbursts and tantrums.
After a while she also meets a local lad with an affinity for animals and a kind, understanding disposition. He shows our heroine a secret garden that has gone to seed and is locked away from all eyes. The mystery of why it has been hidden and how it helps the children to appreciate life is the crux of the story.
In 1949 the book was made into a beautiful movie starring Margaret O’Brien and Dean Stockwell.
I believe we all have secret gardens tucked away in the farthest reaches of our subconscious and, if we seek them out and diligently cultivate them, we can find solace in times of great stress. Although made up of part longing and part fantasy they are also filled with the seeds of hope, planted by our own desire to face life head on and succeed.
We make many references to ‘gardens’ in our daily lives. There’s the Garden of Eden where human beings can live in peace and security but lack knowledge and curiosity; we say, “God never promised us a rose garden,” meaning nothing happens overnight and we must work hard to accomplish our goals; we seek out meditation gardens where we can sit quietly and contemplate.
Gardens are places of beauty and contentment, hosts to bees and butterflies. Bees help to sustain the flowers and butterflies are symbolic of life after death. The analogy should be clear: when we are faced with seemingly impossible situations we can, like the butterfly, push through the barriers and rise above them.
I like to imagine myself in acres and acres of flowers, the sun shining, fluffy clouds above and contentment below. Sometimes I flop down and lose myself in their scent and beauty; sometimes, with outstretched arms, I twirl and dance feeling their simple honesty surrounding me.
All of this, of course, takes place in my head…but doesn’t everything? Fear, anger, animosity…they all take place inside our heads, also. Why not wipe these thoughts out in your own special garden?! Here’s a clue: before you go to sleep at night tell yourself to find your garden. Think about the beauty and calm and peace you’ll find there, then call it up from the far reaches of your mind. You’ll wake up refreshed and happier than you’ve been in a long time.
Trust me…I do it myself as often as possible and find I can banish sad thoughts and face the day with all the joy and grace I have found in my own secret garden.
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