Talented and forward thinking landscape artist, Sabine, escapes from the pain of losing loved ones by throwing herself into designing the Rockwork Grove garden at the Royal Palace at Versailles, for King Louis XIV. Along the way she falls in love with the man who appointed her, fellow artist, André Le Notre. When she meets the king’s gardener one day in the royal gardens she offers ideas and advice.
He is happy to listen, what she doesn’t realize is that she is actually speaking to King Louis himself. As the conversation progresses he tells her that the time has come for them both to face down the past and live for the present. There is of course a famous story about another woman meeting a king who she thinks is a gardener, on that occasion Jesus tells Mary who he is, but he also encourages her to concentrate on the present. To keep moving forward with him, not holding onto the past. And he gives her a vital job. A counter-cultural role – to be a witness in an age when women were not legally allowed to do that. In A Little Chaos Sabine is a dedicated and sensitive woman. André Le Notre tells her that he can see her heart beats ferociously, while his merely ticks. When her garden is sabotaged, Sabine risks her life to stop it being washed away.
Perhaps Mary was a woman like Sabine, a woman whose heart beat ferociously too. Her life had after all been radically changed by this man from Nazareth. I fear that I must confess that too often my heart merely ticks.
The painful loss in Sabine’s life continues to affect her. Then one day she meets the ladies of the royal court and, as they begin to talk honestly together, she discovers that they have all lost loved ones. It seems that they have all experienced terrible pain and loss in their lives. Whether rich or poor, privileged or not, loss seems to be a shared language for so many. The royal gardener Mary met had of course just experienced terrible pain and suffering himself, totally abandoned by his family, friends and heavenly Father as he hung dying on a cross. He was the God who had come to experience that shared language of trouble and loss, the God who can understand the terrors and pain of this life.