I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

April 10th, 2010

Our Secret Garden

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“All a chap’s got to do to make ’em thrive…is to be friends with ’em for sure.”

We spent Easter with the Simpers and the Paices. Holidays have, for Dale and I, always been a time to pull the people we love best close to us: people who inspire us.

Sitting around the dining room table, full of pork roast and conversation, I saw that each husband had an arm around his wife; the couples leaned toward one another—their bodies and faces in repose, content in their togetherness; resting–like their arms–on one another.

Earlier, Julianna and Malcolm stuffed themselves into an overstuffed chair and Sue and Evan bent over a puzzle, their hands occasionally touching as they sorted the pieces or guided children’s fingers which insisted on contributing or at least peeking into their parents’ clubhouse.

Like the tulips and daffodils growing in bunches around our woods,  Dale and I have surrounded ourselves with friends who grow up with us, who love bunching and beauty as much as we do, who have a blooming effect. These intimates do not have the key to our secret garden, which is closely guarded; and we do not have the key to theirs—but we can see enough of the climbing roses and clematis cascading over the wall to imagine the order and abundance inside.

After they had gone Sunday night, we surveyed the remains of happy hours, and delved into the work of restoration. There was between us–as there always is in the aftermath while we clean dishes and pick up toys—an unspoken sense of renewal. We are alone, closing the garden gate behind us with satisfaction: our love is refreshed, our intimacy revived, our romance richer for theirs.

(Music by Secret Garden: “Celebration” on their album Dreamcatcher)


“It’s like the whole universe is here in this garden.” ~ The Secret Garden


Don’t miss: 

“My Cup Runneth Over”

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5 weeks and 500 To-Do’s!

Hint of Romance

Nurture friendships that bring you closer to one another. Include friends and family, young and old, couples and singles in your circle; people who understand, respect and support your marriage.

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!


  1. Grant Z says:

    Wonderful! I think it is easy to forget that good relationships outside of your marriage actually help and bless your own marriage (and the opposite can be true too). Bri and I have been talking about getting more people over this summer of dinner and such. We’ll so busy with school we haven’t had a chance to do so in a long time.

    Once again, a wonderful professional podcast with a refreshing reminder. Thank you!

    • mona says:

      Grant, You are RIGHT about “the opposite” as well…it’s so important that your friends are “mutual” friends if you want a super marriage.

  2. Heidi says:

    Friendship has always been one of the most important things to me. The betrayal or forgetting of friends has been the hardest and deepest wound for me. Thus, it would make sense that the building up and improvement of friendships would be the greatest and sweetest boon to my life. I LOVE your references to The Secret Garden–perfect!

    • mona says:

      Heidi: Friends that have a positive effect on you are important at any stage of life – so true. It is a sacred privilege to be a friend.

  3. Rebecca Webb says:

    Gosh, thanks Ramona! For reminding me what we missed! But hey, we were still in company of friends and family–so I guess we didn’t totally miss the boat! :) We will definitely miss your family’s friendship while you are gone!

  4. Bri Z says:

    In my experience, good friends led to a good relationship with my husband. When I put forth and effort to develop strong relationships with good people (Hannah among them), I was led to my relationship with Grant. Lucky me! ;)

    Thanks for sharing this sweet message. Friends have such a powerful influence. It is important to choose wisely. It’s important to be surrounded by those who act like fertilizer and promote growth, those who you both can share.

    • mona says:

      Bri darling! Good point — when we associate with good people it leads to other good people which may lead to the right one and only. Take note singles!

  5. Laura says:

    I totally agree! And on the flipside, associating with those who choose to bash their spouses can lead to the temptation to bash your own. I love the idea of a “Secret Garden” for John and I. Sweet. Thanks.

    • mona says:

      Laura: I learned early in our marriage that I didn’t want to be around women who are critical of their husbands. It made me very uncomfortable and still does — it’s like a contagious disease. Cover your nose and mouth!

  6. Sue Simper says:

    Ahhhh, Mona, you and Dale are such good influences on us! We’re always perplexed how we got so lucky to be in the Z clan, but yours is certainly the most nurturing, inspiring, fascinating, and fun home to be in! Sorry about the aftermath of Easter weekend (at least there were no sharpie drawings on the furniture and we didn’t fill the place with smoke this time!) Your love for our kids, and us, has given us a haven to grow in, and has strengthened us (and entertained us!) in countless ways! We love you!!!!!!!

    • mona says:

      Sue: what good are the z’s if not for entertainment?! BTW, the crunchers are some of the best entertainment of the planet. I’d trade the West End for G, C, and B anyday.

  7. Sarah says:

    Where appropriate, I can not help but take trusted friends on strolls through parts of our garden. Pointing out my favorite parts only endears those parts to me more. I love how other flourishing gardens excite me to try new things in my own and how important it is to protect your garden as well!
    This is GORGEOUS.

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