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.