Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Heavenly Mother and The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden was one of my favorite books as a little girl, and I read it to my own girls when I grew up. Carol Lynn Pearson says she first recognized this story as an allegory of the Heavenly Mother when she saw the play on Broadway. Again we have a home that is motherless. Archibald Craven has lost his wife and is desolate. He will not see people, and he leaves his house and his young son every spring because it reminds him of his lost love. Carol Lynn identifies this as the kind of grief the kabbalah reminds us that God is in without the Shekinah. The curtains are closed. Mother nature is banished from the home. A picture of the mother is draped and hidden from view.

An interesting aspect of this home is another female figure, the housekeeper Medlock. She is a woman who is invested in supporting the status quo.

Into this sad patriarchal household comes Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old whose mother was the twin sister of Archibald's wife. She is a troublemaker. She turns the household upside down. Mary laments that the house seemed dead, it seemed like a spell had been cast upon it. She goes into the mother’s room that had been locked and she finds a key. "There are keys you are not supposed to mess around with," says Carol Lynn.

There are some other similarities that Carol Lynn didn't mention that I'd like to bring out. In the Church we have made the Divine Female so sacred that she is to all intents and purposes a "secret." Like any family secret, we all know she is there, but we are told not to discuss her, not to pray to her, not to seek her.

Mary discovers the mother’s private beautiful garden. No one has been in it for ten years. She uses her stolen key which opens the door. I find this remarkably analogous to the knowledge that we have a Heavenly Mother which was brought to us through the lovely song "O My Father" written by Eliza R. Snow. Her words speak of "the key of knowledge" which restores to us our knowledge that we "have a Mother there."

In the secret garden, Mary sees one shoot growing. Carol Lynn says, "I looked around and saw the concept of the divine mother dead except for a little shoot here and there. Maybe it’s not completely dead. In my heart, the feminine has not been buried, it has been planted, and it is growing and greening."

Carol Lynn describes how Mary makes friends with Dicken and they tend the garden. Boys have their role to play in these dramas, as we will see when we discuss the next film. Colin comes to life. “Maybe I’m not ill,” he says. A prayer circle is held by the children to call the father back. He hears, and returns home. He finds the son is not in his bed. The portrait is unveiled, light is coming into the room. Medlock says the girl has caused havoc. A girl is out of control, what are we going to do? The father says to Mary, “you brought us back to life. You did something I thought no one could do.”

Carol Lynn's concluding remarks to this story show great enthusiasm. "What a day it will be when our patriarchy looks at the garden we have brought to bloom and they say thank you for making the mother’s garden grow. We will never close it up again," she exults. I wonder how Carol Lynn would feel about this statement today. In the '80's and '90's I too felt that the knowledge of a female counterpart to God was growing and becoming more important in the lives of Latter-day Saints. In my lifetime I have seen this excitement quashed, the key taken, and the garden locked up again.


Mark N. said...

From what I have read, any serious discussion of Heavenly Mother can't help but also go waltzing into Adam-God territory. You can't pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other, and most people are more than happy to go along with the leadership which has proclaimed Adam-God to be heretical. Oh, well.

Bored in Vernal said...

mark n,
I don't believe that Adam-God is so much a necessity when discussing Heavenly Mother. Perhaps the greater difficulty is the doctrine of plurality of wives.

Nita said...

Adam/God theory...didn't Brigham Young speak on this in the JoD?? is is true doctrine or not? i am sooo confused right now!

since a man can be sealed to more than one wife, wouldn't that mean there would be more than one Heavenly Mother?.....ugh!

Bored in Vernal said...

nita, most lds agree that adam-god was just Brigham Young's mistaken understanding of Adam's exalted role as father of the human race. More recent prophets have clearly stated that Adam is not the same being as our Heavenly Father.

As for more than one Heavenly Mother--we don't know. Is this why official Church doctrine doesn't tell us much about the Divine Feminine? I wonder.

Nita said...

I just got baptized 2 months ago. already i'm feeling strange about some things. does the "official" doctrine change with each new President of the Church?? how do we know what's the pure Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? i am really a very curious person and like to delve into the deeper doctrines. i am reading "Temple and Cosmos" by Hugh Nibley and just got a book on symbolism, which i find so fascinating. i know the mysteries of the eternities haven't even begun to be revealed, only the surface has been scratched....i have heard in Gospel Doctrine class that we aren't supposed to worry about the "mysteries". well, i'm not "worried" about them..i just want to learn!!

Bored in Vernal said...

nita, I'm so glad to have you commenting on my blog! I hope it's interesting to you. I'm sure you realize this is not the place to come for a source of doctrine. It's just me, pouring out my feelings and frustrations!

Anyway, the Church doesn't seem to have too many "official" doctrines. Those that we do have stay the same: the divinity of Christ, the need of a restoration, latter-day revelation, etc.

Since our Prophet and Church leaders are not "infallible," there is a possibility that sometimes they are wrong. (Gasp!) It doesn't bother me overly that these leaders can make a mistake. It doesn't happen very often. What does bother me is people who close their eyes to this and try to maintain that a prophet or another leader can never be wrong. Then to make up all kinds of convoluted excuses as to why he said what he said. I have no patience for it.

Not very many people delve into the deeper doctrines of the Church right away (if at all.) I did, though, and I'm still a faithful member. I think you just have to realize that there are many things you won't completely understand yet, until you get a broader comprehension of everything.

Pure truth is something that is very elusive... after 28 years in the Church I'm still learning!