The Secret Garden
A Sad and Happy Easter Story
from the village of Dobromirka in Bulgaria
When you walk along the main street of Dobromirka towards the Orthodox church and Mission Possible's activity center, you can see at the end of the bridge a yellow iron gate covered with wild wine that leads to an overgrown, abandoned park.
In summer, the park is hidden behind the bushes and trees. But in spring, when the leaves have not yet sprouted, it can be seen from the road. There is a small, dried pond and a bridge over it.
I wanted to go and see the park, but it wasn't possible to access it through the gate, so I entered from the back side.
And here I was, in the "secret garden"!
I could imagine that there was a time when this little park had a beautiful lawn, flowers, and benches. Mothers with children would come here to sit in the shade of the trees. The children would run to the bridge and look into the water.
But now the park is forgotten and useless. Who would care about it in the middle of this half-abandoned, deteriorating village, who would come here...
An old Orthodox church is seen through the blooming branches. For a long time already, it has been without a priest and there have been no services. No longer is there life or joy. An elderly woman comes to ring the bells when someone in the village - again - has passed away...
From a distance, the building is beautiful, but a closer look reveals that it is decaying. Once a year, for Easter, the women from the neighboring Mission Possible center come to clean its windows.
Next to the Secret Garden, on the slope below Mission Possible's center, there is a piece of land that, too, used to full of weeds and bushes. But now it has been cleared and something is happening there!
The yard has been is fenced, and a little house whose stone walls are laid in the traditional Bulgarian style is being restored!
This place has undergone an enormous change! Before, the house and the yard were full of debris and weeds and the building was barely seen behind the trees and bushes. The empty windows looked like sad eyes.
The once-pretty family home was in ruins and in a hopeless state.
But then we were given permission to restore the building and land for use by our activity center! We are now rebuilding the house on the old foundations and walls that were intact.
There will be a lawn, fruit trees, and flowers! Families and guests visiting the Center will be housed here! Children will be playing on the yard! The abandoned, forgotten ruins are rising from the dead and will again be useful!
Next to the little house, a staircase rises to the yard of Mission Possible's activity center.
This building, too, and the land surrounding it, have experienced a resurrection!
The four-storey house was dilapidated and a sad sight.
The yard was mostly covered by weeds and bushes.
Now the building looks welcoming inside and out! It is surrounded by a beautiful lawn, and every year we add something new to it.
It is full of people, action, life, and joy! Hundreds of children and youth come here for summer camps.
Hundreds of adults attend events, courses, and seminars to receive instruction, inspiration, and encouragement for their lives.
Four different pictures ... Which of them reflects the state of our lives?
Is our life like that beautiful church building that no longer has life and joy behind its gradually dilapidating facade, no purpose and no future?
Or maybe there are secret, neglected corners in our life that resemble that little forgotten and overgrown garden?
Or maybe we are currently waking up from the state of hopelessness and reaching towards a bright future like the little house that is waiting for the next team of construction workers to lay the new roof?
Or maybe we are like the activity center: already so well established and accustomed to the fruitful and bright life that we no longer remember those times when it was cold and dark inside us...
If we are like the beautiful but lifeless building or like the abandoned garden, this is a fitting and encouraging Bible verse for us:
“Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!" (Eph. 5:14)
If we are already being raised from the dead, like the little house, or if we are full of life like the activity center, we are living proof that there is hope for others too! This is a fitting verse for those who have already been made alive:
"And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. " (2 Cor. 5:15)
Happy Easter to everyone!