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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green – Susan’s Newsletter August 2016


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Susan's Thursday Morning  Note August 25, 2016
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” – hope

Good morning!   Absolute stillness outside my window except the movement of my angel of dawn looking through with her smile and encouragement to enter this day.  Little feet sticking out of blanket beside me.  Sticky fingers on this same little whose-it to my right.  Autumn.  Summer.  Joining together to give us this “between seasons” day.  Last night I reread out of a book I Never Promised you a Rose Garden” written over 50 years ago on a conversation and thoughts from within a sanatorium.  On developing the ability to find beauty regardless of circumstances; to look to the heavens, where the promise of peace is promised.

I keep Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac as the home page for my internet.  Each morning there is a new poem for the day and some history of different authors given.  I was drawn to the thoughts in this poem on our desire our entire lives to see our faces in the mirror.

In all your life, you will never see your actual face.
If you close one eye, you can gaze
at the side of your nose, but that’s it.
Is that why when looking at group photographs,
it’s yourself you stare at the longest?
Sometimes you’re mistaken for someone else,
And you want to meet her, see for yourself yourself,
but even if you met a gang of doppelgangers,
you will continue searching in hubcaps, sauce pans,
toasters, the backs of spoons, the bases of lamps,
in sunglasses, in another person’s eyes,
and if that person is standing in just the right light,
there you are, trying to get closer.   Susan Browne, Zephr

Why do we look at our own face?  Are we looking into our own eyes and communicating with ourselves?  Giving ourselves a dialogue of understanding?  Of looking into the eyes of yourself and having complete understanding of the person we see, knowing no one else can possibly know all in our heads?  What is behind our eyes?  Are we finding faults with ourselves?  I try to realize that only myself will be with myself for life (ha).  The only one that fully will understand where I’ve been, what I’m thinking, why I’ve made decisions, what my desires and hopes are, what my goals are, what my deepest satisfactions are, what my prayers are, what my joys are.  I don’t want to be my greatest critic.  I want to be the one that understands me most.  Is that possible looking into photographs, into spoons, into lamp bases, into sunglasses.  I remember a Newfoundland’s eyes a few years ago…I looked in and saw myself because the eyes were so reflective.  As Anne of Green Gables would state, “my looking-glass friend, Katie” about herself in the mirror.  Do we look in the mirror and see a friend?  Does the friend peering back into our eyes encourage us to find life as beautiful?  To look upwards?  To hope?

I just finished a fascinating book written in 1964 by Hannah Green.  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.  The book takes place in a sanatorium with the main character being  a teenager dealing with painful psychological problems.  Severe anxiety.  This book concentrated on the word hope.  The characters were all at different levels of pain and insanity.  For some reason the book wasn’t depressing.  Intriguing on looking beyond any circumstance and keeping hope alive no matter how hard the situation or mental state you’re in is at the moment…Here are the words of the counselor/doctor to the main character on hope.

Look here, I never promised you a rose garden.  I never promised you perfect justice…and I never promised you peace or happiness.  My help is so that you can be free to fight for all of these things.  The only reality I offer is challenge, and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable.  I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie…

Near the end of the book our main character (who has struggled for several years to come out of her darkness) makes this observation.she looked out into the congregation of Sunday and wondered if they ever thanked God for the light in their minds, for friends, for cold and pain responsive to the laws of nature, for enough depth of sight into these laws to have expectation or friends, for the days and nights that follow one another in stately rhythm, for the sparks that fly upward, for friends….Did they know how beautiful and enviable their lives were?

I was also recently given a little mystery paperback Denial by Stuart M. Kaminsky, along with a note inside about a section of the book.  I have yet to read the mystery, but this is the paragraph my friend typed out for me from his writings.

I began my search for the sunlight as I came out of the womb, my search for sunlight and God, and found sunlight pretty quickly, and darkness too, but I have the feeling that someday I’ll go back into that womb and find that God had been there waiting for me the whole while and he’ll say, Where have you been, and I’ll say, Looking for you, and he’ll say, What  for, to which I will tell him that I wanted to know why I had been plucked timely from the warm darkness and sent out to grow old, feel pain and doubt, love and be loved, laugh and be laughed at, doubt and be doubted, and old God will answer saying I had just answered my own question.

Life is so short.  Eternal perspective.  Such peace will be the moment we look into God’s eyes.  All our desires fulfilled at that moment.  In his presence.  Our time today will fly.  Our lives will continue to fly by.  Can we slow them down?  Set our goals.  Follow our dreams?  Know that we get to be with ourselves only our entire life.  Trust ourselves.  Not be too hard on ourselves when we are trying our best?  What will we write on our epitaphs tonight for the moments we get to have today?  Will our epitaph tonight be worth writing on the moments we’ll never get back?  Let’s look up to the heavens today….the peace that passes all other’s understanding is only a glance away.  Thank you for letting me come into your world again this Thursday morning.  Let us together accept the gift from our angels of dawn peering into our windows.  This day that can’t decide if it is summer or autumn.  This beautiful measure in our music.  Susan
Latin for this week:
spes, spei – hope
spem habere – to have hope or to entertain hope
perferre – to bear through to the end
obdurare – to remain firm, hold out, persist

Works Cited:
Green, Hannah.  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.  1964.  New York.  Holt, Rinehart, and Winston
Kaminsky, Stuart M.  Denial.  2005.  New York.  Tom Doherty Associates.