I never read the book, The Secret Garden, as a child. I stumbled across the movie a few years back and fell in love with it, watching it over and over; seeing something new each time, but recently, I read the book and was amazed by its profound wisdom.
The main character of the story is a very unhappy, lonely, wealthy, little girl named Mary. She is repeatedly referred to as “sour”. She likes no one, and assumes (correctly) that no one likes her either. As she begins to change, her maid Martha asks her, “How does thy like thyself?” Mary thinks about this for a moment and answers, “Not at all, really. But I never thought of that before.”
When I’ve been the most unhappy with those around me, if I’d had the presence of mind to ask myself what I was thinking and feeling about myself in that moment, it wouldn’t have been good. Whenever I am feeling harsh judgement, criticism, hautiness, contempt, or am comparing myself to someone else, all I really reveal is how I feel about myself. If the feelings are inside of me, they are mine. Even when I think I’m feeling/thinking them about another, they are my feelings.
Equally true, when I’m seeing the qualities of love, patience, harmony, generosity, kind-heartedness in another, they are also mine.
“In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered….In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.
One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts, just mere thoughts, are as are powerful as electric batteries, as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in, you may never get over it as long as you live.
So long as Mistress Mary’s mind was full of disagreeable thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people and her determination not to be pleased by or interested in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored and wretched child.
When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day, by day, and also with a moor boy and his ‘creatures’, there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affected her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired.”
pp 293-4, The last chapter of the Secret Garden, published in 1911