The Hidden Garden: A Story of the Heart by Jane G Meyer and illustrated by Masha Lobastov (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2013) is a parable for children about tending to the garden of one’s heart. This garden is often sadly neglected and full of weeds, but Christ our Gardner is always at the gate, waiting to come into our garden and help us make it beautiful.
This book was recommended to me as a lovely read-aloud for an upcoming project I have. With its layered story line, description of experiences that are universal in nature, and lovely illustration, I think it is a great choice for a special occasion reading. In the story, a man describes how his garden was full of weeds, thorns, and ugliness, but Christ was always standing at the door of his garden, knocking softly. When the man finally invites Christ in, both the garden and the man transform– with hard work, perseverance, and time– into something beautiful.
I love the concept of our hearts being like a garden. It’s easy for children to relate to because it brings an abstract thought into a concrete reality that they can understand in a way that inspires beauty. This sweet parable is appropriate for elementary age children, but adults will enjoy reading this to their younger children too.
This book could make a great gift paired with packets of seeds or young plants for children to care for. Sunday School teachers could expand it with a discuss and an art project showing how the seeds in our life are sloth, bitterness, selfishness, and so on, and that with Christ’s help we need to root them out and plant the fruits of the spirit.