Posted by: Phoebe | January 21, 2010

Quote 2: Self-giving Love

This quote is from the Christian classic by Hannah Hurnard, “Hinds’ Feet on High Places.” It is an allegory about the journeyings of a maiden, Much-Afraid, under the protection and guidance of the Good Shepherd. I read it several years ago, but it came to mind again when I saw it at a friend’s house. Since then I’ve started it again and given it to a friend. This quote is from Chapter 4: Start for the High Places.

In this section, little Much-Afraid, who is starting her journey to the High Places and learning to trust the Shepherd, is asking him why the sweet, tender flowers grow in the “wild places of the earth” to be unseen and trod upon by animals. I’ve seen (what I think are) tundra flowers before, growing in a thick mat beside a mountain lake. One can’t help but step upon them. One can’t help but marvel at their beauty and vivacity in the thin air and thin soil under the clear rays of the sun.  In this allegory, we learn from such little flowers.

The look the Shepherd turned on her was very beautiful. “Nothing my Father and I have made is ever wasted,” he said quietly, “and the little wild flowers have a wonderful lesson to teach.  They offer themselves so sweetly and confidently and willingly, even if it seems that there is no one to appreciate them.  Just as though they sang a joyous little song to themselves, that it is so happy to love, even though one is not loved in return.

“I must tell you a great truth, Much-Afraid, which only the few understand.  All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at.  Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love.

“Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a lace of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends.  Some of my servants have indeed won great visible victories and are rightly loved and reverenced by other men, but always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers, those which no one knows about.  Learn this lesson now, down here in the valley, Much-Afraid, and when you get to the steep places of the mountains it will comfort you.”

The Love of which the passage speaks has several meanings. Love is God, our Good Shepherd, who in this story is also the heavenly lover who chooses and nurtures little Much-Afraid. He is teaching her to love him faithfully, even when the way of obedience is secret and hard. Love is the beauty which he grows in us by giving us his love.



  1. Thanks for posting the garden quote…I wanted to post it to my blog this morning, but my friend has my copy of the book…so when I searched online for it, your blog popped right up!

    Love this book. 🙂

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