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Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

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Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you‘ (St Augustine).

Whether we know it or not, we are all made with a ‘God-shaped hole’.

In the following excerpt from the Secret Garden, Colin is overjoyed not only with his newly found ability to walk but with his new friends and the beauty of the garden.  In his life thus far he has not had the opportunity to come to know God, but the chance remark of the gardener Weatherstaff brings Colin in touch for the first time with the cause of his joy:

‘”Mary! Dickon!” he cried. “Just look at me!” …  “I’m well! I’m well!” said Colin again, and his face went quite red all over.

He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt it and thought about it, but just at that minute something had rushed all through him – a sort of rapturous belief and realization and it had been so strong that he could not help calling out.

“I shall live forever and ever and ever!” he cried grandly. “I shall find out thousands and thousands of things. I shall find out about people and creatures and everything that grows – like Dickon – and I shall never stop making Magic. I’m well! I’m well! I feel – I feel as if I want to shout out something – something thankful, joyful!”

Ben Weatherstaff, who had been working near a rose-bush, glanced round at him.

“Tha’ might sing th’ Doxology,” he suggested in his dryest grunt. He had no opinion of the Doxology and he did not make the suggestion with any particular reverence.

But Colin was of an exploring mind and he knew nothing about the Doxology.

“What is that?” he inquired.

“Dickon can sing it for thee, I’ll warrant,” replied Ben Weatherstaff.

Dickon answered with his all-perceiving animal charmer’s smile.

“They sing it i’ church,” he said. “Mother says she believes th’ skylarks sings it when they gets up i’ th’ mornin’.”

“If she says that, it must be a nice song,” Colin answered. “I’ve never been in a church myself. I was always too ill. Sing it, Dickon. I want to hear it.”

Dickon was quite simple and unaffected about it. He understood what Colin felt better than Colin did himself. He understood by a sort of instinct so natural that he did not know it was understanding. He pulled off his cap and looked round still smiling.

“Tha’ must take off tha’ cap,” he said to Colin,” an’ so mun tha’, Ben – an’ tha’ mun stand up, tha’ knows.”

Colin took off his cap and the sun shone on and warmed his thick hair as he watched Dickon intently. Ben Weatherstaff scrambled up from his knees and bared his head too with a sort of puzzled half-resentful look on his old face as if he didn’t know exactly why he was doing this remarkable thing.

Dickon stood out among the trees and rose-bushes and began to sing in quite a simple matter-of-fact way and in a nice strong boy voice:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
 Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.”

When he had finished, Ben Weatherstaff was standing quite still with his jaws set obstinately but with a disturbed look in his eyes fixed on Colin. Colin’s face was thoughtful and appreciative.

“It is a very nice song,” he said. “I like it. Perhaps it means just what I mean when I want to shout out that I am thankful to the Magic.” He stopped and thought in a puzzled way. “Perhaps they are both the same thing. How can we know the exact names of everything? Sing it again, Dickon. Let us try, Mary. I want to sing it, too. It’s my song. How does it begin? `Praise God from whom all blessings flow’?”

And they sang it again, and Mary and Colin lifted their voices as musically as they could and Dickon’s swelled quite loud and beautiful – and at the second line Ben Weatherstaff raspingly cleared his throat and at the third line he joined in with such vigor that it seemed almost savage and when the “Amen” came to an end Mary observed that the very same thing had happened to him which had happened when he found out that Colin was not a cripple – his chin was twitching and he was staring and winking and his leathery old cheeks were wet.’

(from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodsgon Burnett ch. 26) 

Although he did not know God, Colin perceived the fingerprints of God all over in His creation and his heart responded quite naturally to the love and beauty around him.  Here, for the first time, he had begun to realise that the ‘Magic’ was perhaps God at work in His creation.  We who have the honour of knowing our Lord and God enjoy His masterpieces each and every day, but perhaps with less vocal appreciation than Colin.

Let us learn from him and remember to praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

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