OUR garden is not what it should be at this time of year. Weeks of cold, wet weather and the snow last week have stunted the new growth of spring and there is mud everywhere. It reminds me of the book “The Secret Garden” by F. H. Burnett, where a lonely and unloved orphan called Mary discovers an overgrown and neglected walled garden in the grounds of her new home.
That garden had been locked by her bitter and resentful guardian uncle after his wife was killed there many years before. But Mary finds the key and tends the garden, which starts to come back to life the next spring. This transformation is reflected in the life of the little girl who at last begins to flourish. It is also experienced by others whom she invites to the garden.
On the first Easter day another Mary visited a garden of pain and loss – the place where Jesus had been buried two days before. She meets the risen Jesus (thinking him to be just the gardener at first) and experiences healing and restoration following her loss. In a sense we all have our own secret garden, the place where we keep our pains and losses locked away.
Following Jesus through the pain of the cross on Good Friday forces us to unlock the gate of that garden. But what we then discover is that it is not just a place of sorrow but also one where there are shoots of new growth, of healing and forgiveness.
When we stop pretending we are strong enough by ourselves to deal with the hurts of life and instead open the door of our garden of pain, we find that there is someone else already there. It’s Jesus who knows for himself what loneliness, rejection and fear feel like. And like a gardener he is able to tend new life back into us, so that we may know the joy of the new life discovered in a garden on that very first Easter day.
Revd Patrick Taylor
Team Vicar for St Alphege Church