A Garden of Silence
“What will your secret garden look like? Will the space fill a field? An acre? A narrow border? Will you begin with an entire day? A weekend retreat? An hour before bed? Several minutes? The point is to begin to slow down your life and focus your attention…. There are many ways to sow the seeds. Listen and in the quiet you will hear the direction of your heart. The garden of silence is always there for us. Patiently waiting. We have only to claim it.” Anne LeClaire, Listening Below the Noise 2009
The Secret Garden by the American-English author, Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett who also wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess, is still one of my favorite stories. The Secret Garden is a story about an unloved 10-year-old English girl who is sent to live with her grieving uncle in his remote country home after her parents die. Her unhappiness and aloneness as well as the heartache and isolation of those around her are healed when she begins to spend time caring for and restoring a secret garden on the grounds of the manor house on the bleak moors of Yorkshire. I have watched the 1993 British film with Maggie Smith with my daughter and granddaughter and am going to see the play with my granddaughter this weekend. This story resonates with the child within us, the creative part of us, the part we so easily abandon for more important things, the part that is a major connection to the divine within us. It is another story about how the sounds, the smell, the sights in nature can silence and calm the grown up wounded committee in our heads and can heal and transform our inner child. We all should have a secret garden, a place where we seem to be able to reconnect so much more easily with the God within ourselves and the divine within each other. It is a safe place where the presence of the Spirit is more easily felt, described in Psalm 32:7:
” You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.”
Talking about our secret garden, our hiding place, often a place of silence, can be an opening to the divine in spiritual direction.