Country Inn “Spiritual” Day

 

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Stan Hywet Hall
Whenever I’m in need of some spiritual uplift I come here, to Stan Hywet Hall in Akron Ohio.  It is a notable country estate, the former home of F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  He had the house built between 1912 and 1915 and it now ranks as the 12th largest house in the United States.  Stan Hywet Hall is built in the Tudor Revival style and sits on 70 acres of property.

But though I love country houses and this is a very fine country house, I don’t come here to see the house.  I come here to spend time in its gardens.

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The entrance gates at Stan Hywet
As I enter the gates of this estate I like to imagine I’m leaving earth all together and coming home to heaven, to my heavenly father, just as a college student might leave school for a time in order to rest and revive herself  in the presence of  family. Living life on this earth is actually a lot like going to school.  Here on earth we’re constantly learning and being tested.  Hopefully we’re growing in many ways, but it’s not always easy.

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In fact, sometimes it’s very hard as it has been this month for me losing my precious doggie, Alexander.  He died in my arms on May 13th from old age and because of this great loss I really needed to come here to the garden to spend quiet time with God talking and listening.

Years ago my sister Elaine and I wrote a song.  I composed the music and Elaine composed  the lyrics.  I think of this song whenever I come here to the garden to spend time with God.  Let me share the lyrics with you.

“I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.

He knows I’m here, I know he’s near

In silence, soft sweet silence.

We sit and listen give and take

 sharing secrets for love’s sake.

I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.”

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The English garden room

I love to sit in the English garden and talk to God, pour out my heart and then listen for his response by reading from one of my spiritual books, books like “God Calling”.  This book was written by two listeners and edited by A. J. Russell.  These listeners claim that the messages they wrote had been given to them by The Living Christ Himself.  Who is to say just how this could be, but the messages are definitely a spiritual stimulus to me and to many thousands of other people as well.

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As I sit looking at the sculpture and fountain in Stan Hywet’s English Garden these words from “God Calling” come to me, “What can I say to you?  Your heart is torn. Then remember “He bindeth up the broken hearts.”  That is me with a broken heart over my doggie’s death.

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I talk to God telling him how I feel as I walk around gazing at all the lovely stonework, the flowers and the plants.  Then I sit here to read from one of my spiritual books.  I am reminded that “Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  I believe this.  I know God wants us to be happy and carry on courageously even after we’ve had great loss.  We must be strong and brave.  With his help I will try to be just that.

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I read that God expresses his great love for us through the beauty of nature and as I gaze upon these roses climbing their way up the trellis to the sky my heart leaps up along with them.

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I’m told In quietness and in confidence shall be my strength.  The quiet and beauty of this garden is comforting and in turning away from the world , tuning to God I feel energized.

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I stroll through the Japanese garden and here I am told all is well.  The plants are so lovely to behold and the design is so ordered.  There is a sense of peace here and that peace runs over onto me.  I’m told nature is but the expression of Eternal Thought in Time.  The eternal is what matters above all and though this fact can easily be forgotten when out in the world here in this garden it seems quite believeable.

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I walk through the Birch alley and I feel so safe as the beautiful trees seem to wrap me in their soft shimmering branches.  I would like to stay here forever, not go back to my life outside this garden with its assorted challenges.  I don’t quite feel up to them just now but I’m told “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  And you know, somehow I believe it.

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I enter the rose garden and I’m overcome with the sheer beauty all around me.  Though I arrived at these gardens with little enthusiasm for life, feeling sad and downtrodden, the beauty of nature has cheered and inspired me just as it did for the characters in that famous novel, “The Secret Garden” .  It’s hard to look at beauty and not feel uplifted just as it’s hard to put a smile on your face, even if it’s forced, and not feel at least a little bit better. I read, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

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I’m told to look for the beauty in the world and not just look at it, but absorb it and then pass it on to others through a smile or a kind word.  I’m told that nature is the embodied Spirit of God’s thoughts of beauty for the world and we can truly live a life not of the earth, but a heavenly life here and now IF we connect ourselves more closely to God.  I believe this.  I feel this connection here in nature.

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It’s easy to feel connected to God here in this garden.  It will be harder when I’m back out in the world beyond, but I’m told to keep close to God by reading his words because the “Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life.”  Do you read scripture?  I will be reading scripture when I return to my earthly home for I love this feeling that I have here in the garden, this very heavenly feeling,  and I want it to continue.  I’m told to trust in God and the consciousness of Him will maintain this feeling of joy I’m now experiencing.

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I leave the rose garden and enter the grape arbor and God says, “Walk with me. I will teach you.”  He tells me life is a school and there are many teachers.  He tells me we must say thank you on our greyest days.  We must be glad all the time.  We must rest in Him.  We must never be afraid.  We must pray more.  We must trust Him.

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I’m told to ponder the truths I’ve been given and to search and I will find more.  The secrets of the Kingdom of heaven are there for us to discover, the hidden pearls of great price.  We might live in the world, but we’re really not of the world.  We’re meant for heaven.  I believe it.  Don’t you?

I came to this garden in a dreary frame of mind.  I came for help, to reconnect with spirit, and that I did.  I still grieve for my precious little doggie, Alexander, but if God created animals for our pleasure and joy I can’t believe he wouldn’t  let us reunite with them when we leave this world and move on to heaven for all eternity.  I’m hoping I see Alexander again but in the meantime I will not only try to live with joy, I will share that joy with others for I believe that’s what God wants us to do.

My Country Inn “Spiritual” Day was most refreshing.  I am inspired to keep the faith and work at enriching it through study, prayer and good works.

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But before I leave this heavenly garden I sit here amidst the hemlocks and say this  prayer.

Our Lord, with a heart full of new life and enthusiasm

I thank Thee for the beauty found in nature

and all Thy marvelous teachings

which you showered on me

today.

Peace and Joy to you too.

You are entering my Enchanted Garden

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BEWARE!

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In this Enchanted Garden you may lose all sense of modern time and place.  You may forget about the bills you have to pay and the errands you have to run.  The garden may steal away any tension you’re enjoying and force the jostle in your day to become quiet.

If you are prepared for these things to happen then by all means, follow me down the garden path.

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It’s been raining for days and the old rose tree is weighed down with all its new growth.  The roses are just beginning to bloom.  They bloom for such a short time, only a few days, but during those days their scent is marvelous.  I wish I could capture some of that scent in this post, but you will need to use your imagination.  I hope you use your imagination often.  It is a wonderful thing and a terrible thing to waste.  Look closely at the delicate blossoms of the old rose tree.

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Such tiny flowers

Beneath the rose you will notice some peony in bloom. They are another of my favorite garden plants, but they too stay for too short a time.

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Let us proceed down the garden path.

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When life becomes too dominated with demands I love to come here, to come to my enchanted garden.  Modern life brings us many wonderful inventions, but nothing is as wonderful to me as nature.  There are no crowds in my garden.  There is no noise, only the chirping of birdies.  It is a most refreshing place to escape modern life.  In this setting I can imagine I’m back in any time period for people of the past enjoyed exactly these same beatious scents and sights.  Sights like this lovely Lamb’s Ear.

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or this Columbine

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a pink columbine
My garden always welcomes me.  It’s welcoming you too.  It appeals to our spirits.  Here in the garden it is a grand place to reflect and enjoy contemplation.  I hope you spend time in reflection each and every day.  My “dead friend” Lord Byron said “A life without reflection is a sad affair” and I whole-heartedly agree with him.  You too?

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Oh, I see the hostas have some company.  They are being visited by the purple iris.  Once again, the iris is another of those flowers which stays for too brief a visit.  I love to see their flowers come, but hate to see them go.  This is so true of many of my human friends too.

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I invite impatience each year into the garden for unlike the peony and iris they not only stay a while, but they flourish and grow and become quite a plentious sight… that is if Peter Rabbit and his family don’t indulge.  I understand Mr. McGregor’s feeling about rabbits now that I tend a garden.

Oh, you must see the climbing rose that was planted by some former owner of our garden.  Take a look at this.

IMG_3629[1]I’m training it to reach out to the house forming a pretty entrance to the patio.  The flowers of this climber are just lovely.  See?

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Come, get even closer.  Take a whiff!

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Is a flower like this not heaven on earth?

A Romantic garden should invoke flights of fancy.  I spend time in this enchanted place and creative ideas seem to come at me from nowhere, or perhaps the ideas are coming from the angels who live here.  Angels like this one.

IMG_3461[1] She hides under the lilies and iris.  She must be shy.  Sometimes she holds a blanket filled with rain water so the birdies can enjoy a refreshing drink.  But there is another angel.  This one is more mature and here she is…

IMG_3470[1]I should name my angel friends.  I used to name the angels back when I was a little girl in Catholic school.  In fact, my friends and I would often play with our angels, especially our guardian angels.  allowing them  to enjoy the swings at the school playground.  We’d push our angel friends  instead of enjoying the swings ourselves.  I guess it’s from those old days that my imagination got it’s start.

Do you grow fennel?  I love fennel, especially bronze fennel.  I have it in my herb garden and here in the Enchanted garden too.  It grows beside some statuary.  Statuary is another thing I love.  It’s so appropriate for a Romantic garden.

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Fennel and statuary

The other side of this particular statue sees yellow lilies getting ready to make an appearance.  Welcome  lilies to my Enchanted garden.

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And every garden needs a bird bath.  The birdies need to bathe too you know.  I love to watch them at this task.  They enjoy themselves so much, but then who doesn’t enjoy a bath?

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There are all sorts of birdies in the Enchanted garden.  Some are living and some are pretend birdies like this one that sits atop a structure training plants up and around it.

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Sometimes I stroll the garden and other times I sit in chairs beside it just gazing at all my plant friends.

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Other times I’ll sit on the patio and view the garden from this vantage point.  I sit at the table and have afternoon tea alone or with friends.

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Or maybe I’ll take a book out to the chairs at the edge of the wall and read to the singing of the birdies.

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The profusion of plant life in a Romantic garden  encourages rest, relaxation, contemplation and imagination, wonderful elements that soften and enrich  modern day life.  I sometimes wander near and far but though these escapes are always delightful,  I always look forward to returning to my Enchanted garden for this is a very favorite place, a place to rest and relax.  I hope you have an Enchanted garden of your own.  If not, come back often and visit me here in mine.

See you next time.