What’s in Your Secret Garden?


“Two things cannot be in one place. Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”  -Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden


This quote is from Goodreads this week to my Facebook feed. I love it. It sums up in 18 words what I have spent a lifetime of inquiry learning about. I’m lucky enough to have been living at a time when ideas about the power of the mind have been abundant and easily accessible.

One of those ideas–the Law of Attraction– has gotten a lot of press in recent years. “Spiritual celebrities” tout the idea that thoughts are things. And they have written books, produced DVD’s, given lectures, and made schools and certifications about this idea: Change your thoughts and you change your circumstances. The Divine Vending Machine is now open and you’ve got your nickel. It’s the Parking Space Church.

Don’t get me wrong. I have demonstrated the notion of thoughts, as levels of consciousness, “attracting” and out-picturing many, many times.  I have also demonstrated that affirmations—written or spoken statements of thoughts—are positively useless without an accompanying unwavering belief. I think where these get sort of sidetracked is forgetting the first part of the above “equation,” about two things not being in one place.

In Leviticus 19:19 the writer paints a similar picture, ‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” The structure here is a lot like the Burnett quote. First a principle, then the metaphors that illustrate it.

It would be easy to focus on the application part of this, without giving full enough attention to the premise. The “how to” is obviously meant to be the easy part. (It was also easy to codify the examples and forget the rule.) Anyone could see the folly of those examples, however, which is found in the word “not.” They are things no person in their right mind would do. Mess up your cattle breeding program?—no. Two kinds of seed would be a nightmare to harvest (wheat and tares???) And garments of two types wouldn’t work—the heavier or newer fabric would inevitably pull the lesser or older cloth apart. Just as you’d keep your cattle, your field and your garment “single,” so your thought would be single-minded on God’s words. It would be foolish not to.

So what happens when we back that up? Two things cannot be in one place. Keep My statutes. Well, that all boils down to the first Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods but me. Jesus re-iterated the “whole of the law” by saying, “You shall love God with all your heart, mind and strength….” (and how to do that—love your neighbor as yourself—egads! Another premise followed by practical application!)

If we apply this to Burnett’s quote, we know that we can’t keep God in contest with anything else. And to do that we tend our roses: goodness, truth, love. The thistles of fear—lack, loneliness, illness and worry—then get no toe-hold. My new mantra, then, is to “Tend my roses.” I hope you, dear reader, have a perfectly rosie 2012!


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