Hoeing in the Garden – To a Waterfowl, Verse 7 – “Thou Art Gone…”

About “Hoeing ‘In the Garden'”  – The memoir, In the Garden, portrays the author’s 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. After marrying the love of her life, Henry, Ellen lived her entire life in the house, on the hill, on a farm in west Michigan (the site of present day Country Dairy), putting down her roots in the place she believed God had planted her. There she found her calling as a helpmeet and homemaker. She transformed the house on the hill into a place of beauty and sanctuary for her family.

To view the memoir visit http://www.principia.com or http://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.


“Her Children Rise Up…”

“Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven

Hath swallowed up thy form, yet, on my heart

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,

And shall not soon depart.”  (To a Waterfowl, verse 7, William Cullen Bryant)


In the memoir, In the Garden, I describe the times I spent with my mother during her last years. Though those weren’t her best years, health-wise, those kairos moments, charged with eternity, changed my life.

As she lay dying, I sat at her bedside, mesmerized, as she traveled back and forth on the pathway to Heaven.   I listened as she talked, lucidly, with Henry, my father, who was there in the room.  It wasn’t until later, when I’d acquired some objectivity, I realized that my father was sent, along with the angels, to accompany my mother home to heaven.  It was then I knew I would write her story.

“On the morning my mother died, I stood…as the funeral home attendants prepared to take her body away. The house was eerily still, deafeningly quiet.  The life was gone from the house on the hill.  I knew she had flown away to her heavenly home, where she was free of pain and sorrow, but I didn’t want her to go. A voice, from somewhere deep inside of me, thundered, “No! No!  (In the Garden, pp.109, 110)

My cry echoed at the funeral…

“At the interment we stood staring at the gaping hole that would hold the remains of our mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  Suddenly a child’s cry pierced the air. One of my niece’s daughters, in a sudden realization of the finality of death, voiced our collective feelings.  “No!  We didn’t want her to go!”  But shovelfuls of sand heaped on her lowered casket reminded us that she was gone from us and the house on the hill forever.  We were left to mourn her absence in our lives.”  (In the Garden, pg. 112)

C.S. Lewis describes the sobering significance of losing one’s mother:

“With my mother’s death all settled happiness,

All that was tranquil and reliable disappeared from my life.

There was to be fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy,

but no more of the old security.

It was sea and island now.

The great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”

“A memoir is a reflective rearrangement of actual events.”  (Larry Woiwoode)

And so I began to research and gather information about my mother’s life.  I went deep within her life. I attempted to walk in her footsteps. The more I learned, the more I realized that her death was victorious and peaceful, because of the way she lived. At every crossroads of her life, when she faced a defining, “why” moment, she chose faith over doubt, hope over despair, acceptance over resignation, good over evil, and love, which has no opposite.  She surrendered her ego to the will of her heavenly Father – in a sense, “she died before she died.”

Next to the might of God, the serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence for good in the world.”  (Dwight L. Moody)

As I reflected and wrote, the mystique of those last years became clearer:

“When I think of my mother, I do not think of her as infirm, frail, or weak.  I see a wrinkled worn face creased with a smile of greeting.  I remember a serene, gentle person radiating beauty and holiness, vibrant peace and stillness, contradictory though it may seem.  There was no interruption or distortion blocking the light which beamed from her countenance, the sunshine of God streaming through her.  She seemed transparent.” (ITG pg. 135)

“…yet, on my heart

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given…”

My mother not only taught me how to die; she taught me how to live as well.

“Her children rise up – and call her blessed.”

Note: The author’s memoir, In the Garden, tells the story of “An ordinary woman, an extraordinary life”




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