Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Pass It On
I recently read a book on mentoring that referenced the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hogsdon. The story is about bratty, spoiled Mary Lennox who is orphaned and sent from India to live in her uncle's imposing mansion on the wild English moors. Raised by servants, Mary is rude, and demanding and her new home is cold and lonely. Her maid Martha befriends her and introduces Mary to her brother Dickon. Together Mary and Dickon help her sickly young cousin, Colin, who has been shut away in a hidden Manor room, to blossom, and in the process Mary finds her identity and melts the heart of her emotionally distant uncle.
If your eyes are starting to glaze over at this point, please stay with me because I promise to get to the point here real soon.
My favorite character is Martha and Dickon's mother, Susan Sowerby. Long before the Duggars had their 19 children, Susan raised 12 children in a humble yet happy home. In stark contrast to the quiet, gloomy neighboring mansion where Mary lives, the Sowerby home bursts with life, love, and energy. Poor in worldly goods, Susan is rich in things that matter. She is wonderful and wise and imparts a wealth of good things to her children.
So here's the cool thing. Susan influences her children for good. Dickon mentors Mary who in turn reaches out to Colin, which spills over to the Uncle, and ultimately transforms Misselthwaite Manor to a happy place.
That's a wonderful picture of how our lives impact others. Like a big cosmic game of leap frog, we are helped by others, then we help others, who then in turn help others. When we are weak, our friends and family nurse us back to physical, spiritual, or emotional health. When our friends and family fall down, we help pick them up. As our lives entwine, we give and take and hold each other up.
Years ago, I commented to a dear friend who had gone above and beyond to help my family after my back surgery, that I felt bad that people had to give us so much help. She wisely responded that someday I would have a turn to help someone else. How true that has been. I love to have opportunities to pay back the friends who helped me by helping others.
This week my husband is at a Leadership conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin. He's spending quality time with a group of pastors he's trusts who have become a safe place for him. My husband gives much and helps a lot of people but there are times when he needs to recharge. I woke up this morning, happy that he was in a good place and knowing good things will happen.
We'll both prayerfully examine the pieces of our lives, assess what's working, identify what's not, seek divine wisdom, interact with people we like and trust, recharge our batteries, and return home refreshed and equipped to engage, sleeves rolled up, ready to do the work God next sets before us.
And others will help us, and we'll help others, who will in turn help others. And so forth and so on.
It was in another garden, many years ago that God first said, "It is not good for man to be alone." I like to think that He was referring to more than just finding a female companion for Adam. Truly we all need each other and He never meant for man (or woman) to be alone.