Our Secret Garden

Holy Scriptures tell of the Creator placing man in a beautiful garden—the most idyllic place the Creator could provide. Not just beauty but life—growing things—the world of nature’s flora all around. All for man’s authentic  enjoyment. To experience the ripening of all that had been planted.

Our own personal Eden awaits us. Multifaceted beyond imagination. Peculiar to our own personality. The garden of delights spoken of in much poetry and many religions.  A place where creativity abounds.

In Paradise man’s only task was to ‘tend’ it. To ‘till and keep it.’ To ‘cultivate and guard it.’ What a job description! To continue what the Creator had begun! The Creator didn’t say ‘work’ in the garden. He said ‘tend.’ To attend to, serve as an attendant, watch over, foster. Tend involves  a combination of work and play—so satisfying that one would never refer to it as the unpleasant labor we frequently identify as work. So satisfying that it becomes our ‘bliss.’

The ‘bliss’ Joseph Campbell so often  spoke of  exists in our center, in this idyllic garden, the ‘bliss’ we are to discover and ‘follow.’ We ‘follow our bliss’ by tending to the ultimate pleasure that we find in the center of ourselves. Tending to it in a way that enables it to grow, mature, ripen into fruit that others want to share.

Our Secret Garden is individual, unique. Our own personal flowering. The more we visit it, the more interested in it we will become. And the more it will reward us. Just as a flower gardener exhibits an awareness that notices all sorts of needs of his plants—water, mulch, sunlight, the transformed individual becomes more sensitive to his inner self—and to others as well.

A new plant (idea) will bloom only slightly perhaps on its first emerging. The next time it blooms you may see several more than a single bud opening up. Subsequent blossomings may reveal an evergreen perennial full of beauty, rewarding us each time we visit it.

Visiting the garden, paying attention to it, really looking and seeing is the only fertilizer it needs. Simply pay attention—take time to be quiet, to have paper and pencil ready, and ideas will emerge, sometimes tumbling out on top of each other like a virtual computer bouquet.

In our garden we find nourishment for the gifts of the Spirit we’ve been given—those gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. What we find in our garden is the ability to nourish ourselves with these gifts and then nourish others with them as well.

Our inner garden is indeed secret. Our garden of spiritual delights. We may want others to appreciate its loveliness but they cannot. All we can do is describe what we are seeing, albeit obliquely and in limited terms—none of which do justice to the pleasure and excitement our garden gives us. All we can do is encourage others to do the necessary in order for their own garden to appear.

What Wants To Be Born

What wants to be born in us?  What is eager to be hatched?  A new, guilt-free, anger-free being.  Our real Self.  Our original personality.

A self is born which, when a mistake is made gives an immediate apology because the complementary feeling is immediate and authentic.  We are immediately sorry for whatever misdeed we have committed.  So the apology is genuine and immediately forthcoming.  And even though the event may linger in memory, the wrenching guilt that used to linger, multiplying our not-OK feelings, lingers no longer.

Some scholars say our preeminent problem is that of shame: being ashamed of who we are–and who we are not, ashamed that we are not enough–in any situation.  We can’t do enough, know enough, have enough, can’t be enough–no matter what.  But guilt is the word we use to talk about our not-OK-ness.  And when the guilt disappears, the shame and despair it covers also disappear.

What wants to be born in you?  The real Self, the original you wants to be born–the human creature, begotten from the union of the inner masculine and feminine parts of the personality.  The union of your rational will with your creative intuition (conscious/unconscious) that produces in you the Nurturing Parent, Capable Adult, and Free Child.  The new self (having moved from childhood to adulthood to godhood) recreates our sense of awe and wonder and delight–the same that God experiences within his good creation, pronounced good from the beginning.  The goodness/godness within us is what we are searching for.  And what is searching for us.

The new Child is born–not childish, immature in its ways, but a new child-likeness–an innocence that lives in the world but believes the good will prevail.  That celebrates the good in everyone/everything.  That looks for the redemptive in every situation.  That is able to celebrate wonder and awe and the comic–everywhere.  That experiences joy, laughter, the expectation of every day holding the same excitement and newness that Christmas Day did for us as children.

Dream scholars suggest that when that happens we will dream of a wedding uniting a king and queen.  I say a dream of a dear child is what tells us either that ours has been born or is calling us to allow it to be born.

Our story begets its own fairy tale happy ending.  But ours is not a fantasy.  Ours is a ‘until death do us part’ union, which keeps us grounded in the inner life no matter what happens in the outer.

Invitation to Wholeness

The invitation to wholeness comes in a strange envelope.  Most invitations come in a phone call, an email, or a printed card in our mail box.  But not the most important invitation of all.

Most invitations request our presence and participation in a pleasant gathering of friends and acquaintances–a party, shower, wedding, celebration.  Usually we are delighted to be included and look forward to the event.  We begin to plan a gift we will take, what we will wear, etc.

The invitation to New Life is altogether different.  For one thing, it comes from inside, not outside us.  Secondly, it is anything but pleasant.

The invitation to New Life can take many forms–none of them enjoyable.  It comes as a negative feeling we cannot shake or ignore: a nagging restlessness we cannot satisfy; a dissatisfaction with activities that formerly gave us pleasure; a general feeling of failure; a kind of death gnawing away inside us; a conscious realization that we really don’t like ourselves very much.

Unfortunately an unwelcome invitation seems to be the only way our Life Force can get our attention.  As long as we find our life satisfying, there is no impetus to change.  Only something negative can get our attention.

For social gatherings it doesn’t matter much whether we accept or regret the invitations we receive.  Not true of the Invitation to Wholeness.  The Life Force is determined for us to have something more than the best we have experienced of this life.  It will be relentless in its attempts to get our attention–and our permission to let it do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  To try to ignore or dismiss this invitation may mean physical or psychological illness.

Would that we all might listen to the message of our pain and cooperate in our miracle of wholeness.