“Do roses quite die when left to themselves?” (Mary Lennox, The Secret Garden)
I recently placed the original The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgeson Burnett on my to-be-read list. I read our illustrated children’s version until it was ragged. The only thing I did more than that was listen to Focus on the Family’s audio version of the book.
But, despite the childhood nostalgia, that’s not why it has re-entered my reading list or my fascination.
At its very core, The Secret Garden is a story about a group of deeply hurting individuals—all with very different ways of coping. But the story doesn’t leave them there.
Perhaps our story doesn’t leave us there, either.
So let’s take a look at some of these characters and discover with them the secrets of The Secret Garden.
1. Mary Lennox
The young heroine of the novel is Mary Lennox. Mary loses both of her parents in an epidemic in India, after not truly knowing either one of them. As a result, the Mary that arrives at Misselthwaite Manor is a very lonely one.
Hurt is an expert at isolating us. And as a result, struggles are often a very lonely thing. It’s just the nature of them. No one else has experienced exactly what we have in exactly the same way. No matter how well-meaning your friends may be, it often feels like they don’t understand. Like no one does.
So we curl deeper into the shadows of our particular manor.
We can’t force other people to accept our struggles or walk with us through them. But we can know that Someone does understand. When we draw closer to God, it’s like a window is thrown open. Like how Mary learned to jump rope, or how she tended the secret garden—we do it day after day and grow closer and closer.
Most days it feels like we’re barely hanging on. But if we can reach out and do the little things—maybe just sending an encouraging text to a friend—we step a little bit further into the light.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12, KJV)
Be open. While we do need to be careful who we share sensitive details of our struggles with, we need to be able to say when we are struggling. Not only is God with you, but I believe there is someone human out there who will care for you and walk with your struggles. Admitting you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re evil or sinful. It means you’re real and human. We’re all taught at a young age that it’s okay to ask for help. And it is. It’s okay to not be okay.
2. Colin Craven
One night, Mary encounters Colin Craven, the young lord of Misselthwaite Manor. Not only is he very ill, but he feels unwanted by his father and is desperately afraid of dying.
Struggles are dreadfully fearful things. We fear we’re not enough. That we won’t make it. That we’ll lose it all. That no one will want us.
Colin’s journey to the garden began with deciding he would get well. Determination won’t always take our problems away, but we have the real reason to live—Jesus, Who lives for us. Who wants us. Who is our Everything. He will see us through whatever storm comes our way. Jesus is enough.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, KJV)
It’s in deciding that we can then take small steps outside of our comfort, the small steps it takes to learn to walk again.
3. Lord Craven
That secret garden Mary stumbled upon? Well, it had been locked by Lord Craven ever since his wife died. He closed the door on his hopes and dreams. He left his son behind and stayed away from Misselthwaite as much as possible.
We can’t let this happen to us. We need people who dream even in the most weed-filled of gardens. Who hold on to Jesus with both hands. People who pray for help and strength every day. Who keep looking up.
“Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)
With God’s power, there’s only one person who can close the door on your hope—you. Not your struggles, no matter what they may say.
Lord Craven also shows us that no matter how far we think we have gone, no matter how deep or dark our struggle may be, there is always a path back to the secret garden.
So follow that path in the power that God has already given you. Because roses never do truly die.
“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” (The Secret Garden)
Do you have a dream that you feel is buried among the weeds? What struggle do you feel alone in?
Comment below, Roses, and let’s uplift one another!
Rachel Judith Leitch discovered the book of writing when she was seven. She’s been turning pages ever since! When she’s not hidden away penning young adult historical adventures, she’s trying to fit all her reads on her shelf in a somewhat organized manner, rambling through history, daydreaming at the piano, or teaching students to be just as bookish as she is. In all her adventures, she learns how to shine brighter for the Father of Lights.
For more lessons drawn from books and movies and other stories, follow her adventure journal at https://racheljleitch.weebly.com!
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