Hoeing In the Garden #2 – Ellen Walking and Talking with her Lord
Note: The memoir, In the Garden, portrays my mother, Ellen, an ordinary woman, who became extraordinary by surrendering her will and ego to the will of God at every crossroads of her life. She chose faith over doubt, acceptance over resignation, hope instead of despair. “Not my will, but Thy will be done,” was her mantra. Ellen lived her entire married life in the house, on the hill, on a small farm in west Michigan (site of present day Country Dairy), rooting herself in the place where she believed God had planted her. There, alongside the love of her life, Henry, she found her calling as a helpmeet and homemaker. She transformed the house on the hill into a place of beauty and sanctuary for their family. To view the memoir visit www.principia.com or www.janethasselbring.com.
In Hoeing “In the Garden,” the author revisits her mother’s story, cultivating and digging up tidbits of truth to provide inspiration and encouragement for the challenges of her life.
In the memoir of my mother, Ellen, I describe the defining
moments of her life – the “why” moments when she was at a fork
in the road and struggled to make sense of life’s challenges. It’s been noted that the “why” moments of our lives are the crucial
moments when we will choose either acceptance or resignation, hope or despair, faith or doubt. So it was with my mother.
I needed a way for readers to get inside my mother’s head – to
know what she was thinking during these times of trial; to get inside her heart – to feel her pain and grief during times of loss; to get inside her soul – to catch a glimpse of a pilgrim, like Jacob of old, wrestling with her Lord during times of crisis, when her very faith was at stake.
I thought then of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles – of Peter, Lucy, Susan and Edmund and the great Lion, Aslan, the God figure in the book. It came to me that Aslan would make a great model for Ellen’s God – the great I Am, who is the Creator and Ruler of the universe, yet, accessible to a humble pilgrim, like my mother, Ellen.
The children learn about Aslan from Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:
“Is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly.
“Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood
and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know
who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe?
I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s
anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re
either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe/” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
He’s the King, I tell you.” (from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
Sprinkled throughout the memoir the reader will find
Ellen walking and talking with her Lord “in the garden.” Listen in as she
talks with her Lord, early in her marriage, after the cherry crop is ruined
and she doesn’t know how they will pay their bills:
“Oh my Lord, it is You?”
“Yes Ellen, I am here. Why are you crying dear one?”
“Oh my Lord,” she wailed, “the cherry crop has been ruined by the
wind. Oh, I do not know what to do. If Henry cannot pick the cherries we
will not have enough money to pay our bills. We were counting on that money.”
Her voice broke off in a sob.
“Ellen.” The voice was sweet and so, so gentle. “Ellen, when you first
found me here on the farm, did I not promise to take care of you?
…Did I promise that the way would always be easy? Did I promise you a rose garden?”
In spite of her woes, the hint of a smile wafted to her lips.
“No, my Lord. But I am so frightened and I need to be strong for Henry.
Please my Lord, help me. It’s hard to be strong when I’m afraid myself.
I don’t know how we will manage.”
“Ellen. Remember what I told you. ‘If you abide in me and my words
abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.’
Now if you had a wish, what would it be, my dear?”
Note: Ellen asks that the wind damage be undone or they
be given the money lost by the storm, but when challenged by
her Lord, she realizes she is being put to a test and finally decides
to rethink her wish.
“This is my wish my Lord – that You would comfort Henry and
give him the strength to go on in spite of losing his cherries. He
cannot survive without hope and he worries so about taking care of me.
yes, that is my wish – that You would give Henry peace and make him strong.
He smiled. “Your wish is granted my dear Ellen. …. And, now a
wish for yourself?”
“Nothing for myself, my Lord. It is enough to be here in the garden with You.”
Again He smiled upon her. “You have chosen well my child. Go with my
blessing…” Then he was gone.
Ellen remained in the garden for a time, savoring the moments with her Lord.
Something stirred deep within her – she felt altered, transformed. Her eyes
filled with tears but they were tears of wonderment and joy. Gently, she
wiped her eyes and went in to fix supper for Henry.” (In the Garden, pgs. 39,40)