Finding hope after pain through nature. The Secret Garden. (May 2019)

Susan's Thursday morning note May 23, 2019
The Secret Garden.  Finding hope again through nature after loss.

Good morning.  Finally the leaves are still. The birds aren’t angry in their singing this morning now that they have repaired their damaged nests from the winds and rain.  Seeing their world come alive in miniature form of little flowers and grasses.  Our world coming to life as the fields bring us their green carpets this week.  My angel of dawn peering in faithfully.  Encouraging me to enter this day and find the beauty by looking up to the heavens and down to the miniature world of our little friends.  To keep perspective of how fast everything goes. To stop and hear the songs of the birds.  Our little friends in the gardens always singing.  So incredibly faithful in their example of looking to the heavens.

Last night I reread the final chapter of The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett which was published in 1910.  I want to rewrite for you part of the final chapter where a husband finding beauty in life through nature for the first time after years of trying to escape depression from the death of his wife.  If you don’t know the story a woman died in childbirth.  Her husband left the estate and his crippled child to live alone as he traveled overseas.  Below is an excerpt from the final chapter describing the thought process of realizing life is beautiful after a decade of darkness and despair.  A decade with loss of joy and hope.

While the secret garden was coming alive and two children were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about certain far away beautiful places…  (Switzerland)..and he was a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heart-broken thinking.  He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones.  He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them; he had lain on mountain-sides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming about him and flower breaths filling all the air and he had thought them.  A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through.  He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties.  When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him that the sign of him was a wrong done to other people because it was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom…He was a tall man with a drawn face and crooked shoulders,…(then he ended up on a walk and sat by a beautiful stream…) As he sat gazing into the clear running of the water, he gradually felt his mind and body both grow quiet, as quiet as the valley itself.  He sat and gazed at the water…the forget-me-nots…He found himself looking as he remembered he had looked at such things years ago.  He was actually thinking tenderly how lovely it was and what wonders of blue…He did not know that just that simple thought was slowly filling his mind – filling and filling it until other things were softly pushed aside.  It was as if a sweet clear spring had begun to rise in a stagnant pool and had risen and risen until at last it swept the dark water away…the valley seemed to grow quieter and quieter as he sat and stared at the bright delicate blueness.  He did not know how long he sat there or what was happening to him, but at last he moved as if he were awakening and got up and stood on the moss carpet, drawing a long, deep, soft breath and wondering at himself.  Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him, very quietly…”What is it?” he said, almost in a whisper, “I almost feel as if – I were alive!”

The final thoughts of his depressed, bed-ridden son that cried for 10 years of his life before the awakening time in the garden…So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thought only of his fears and weakness and his detestation of people…he was a hysterical, half crazy little hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshine and the spring, and also did not know that he could get well and could stand upon his feet if he tried to do it.  When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old hideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ran healthily though his veins and strength poured into him like a flood.  His scientific experiment was quite practical and simple and there was nothing weird about it at all.  Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it about by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one.  Two things cannot be in one place.  Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.

Another example from reading to see how others have sharing grief with beauty.  Sometimes a specific day when of all the sudden you realize you feel again.  For this father ten years of intense pain before he felt his first release from the grip of having unpredictable pain brought into his life.  Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday morning again.  Listen to your birds.  Your friends.  One specific thought in each of their creations was to bring you their song.  To help you look up to the heavens.  To notice the green carpets being laid on the fields.  To notice the little nests as they receive care and repair after the windstorms.  To notice.  Our sand never stopping.  Can we stop a few moments of time in our minds?  Notice eyes?  Hear the purring.  Hear the birds singing.  Notice the beauty as the earth comes alive around us.  Continually force ourselves to look to the heavens.  The peace that passes the understanding of anyone around us is promised if we only look up.  Susan

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.  (Ralph Waldo)

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.  (Martin Luther)

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.  (Galileo)  

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  (Lao Tzu)

As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.  (Stephen Graham)

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  (Albert Einstein)

Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I’ve always regarded nature as the clothing of God.  (Alan Hovhaness)

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.  (William Shakespeare)

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  (Rachel Carson)

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.  (Elonora Duse)

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.  (Anne Frank)

My profession is to always find God in nature. (Henry David Thoreau)

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.  (Mother Theresa)

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.  (George Washington Carver)

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.  (John Muir)

Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.  (William Wordsworth)

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.  (John Muir)

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.  (Alice Walker)


Works Cited:Burnett, Frances H.  The Secret Garden.  Ed.  Robin Lawrie.  New York: Puffin, 2008.