Healing in the Hiding Place

There are some books you shouldn’t read in public unless you don’t mind crying out your eyeballs in front of strangers. Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place is one of those books.


Four weeks ago, I invited you to join me in reading The Hiding Place and planned to read it myself on a cross-country flight. Even the first two chapters forced me to stifle tears, and I only dared read part of it on the plane, stopping after I pressed against the window to sob quietly. I saved the rest of the book for home, reading it only in daytime, as if the only way my heart could absorb what I was reading was to have the sunlight as company for the dark pages.

The Hiding Place is equal parts hope and despair, a study in the depths of human capacity for cruelty and depravity but also a testament to the power of God to work in and through the lives of faithful servants.

Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie had a pure, unfailing joy to her faith that many of us may find unimaginable in those circumstances. I think my own faith is more like Corrie’s than Betsie’s. I chuckled and commiserated with Corrie when Betsie forced her to thank God for the fleas in their barracks in Ravensbruck.

On the day of Holland’s surrender, the ten Booms found themselves at the foot of a beautiful wild cherry tree known as the Bride of Haarlem because of its glorious white petals each spring. This tree—just like too many humans—lost its life to the war, cut down for the firewood it could provide. It was not a great loss compared to the scale of human loss Corrie ten Boom witnessed and shared in these pages, but the loss of the tree compounded my sadness.

After the war, Corrie brought to life her sister’s vision of a healing place, a home with gardens, for war victims. She wrote of the healing power of working in the garden—with its flowers and vegetables—to encourage recovering victims of the war to think less of the bitter past and more of a hopeful future. For them, the act of gardening opened up paths toward forgiveness and wholeness.

Aha! I thought. The idea took root in my own heart, and despite too much travel this month and too little rain, my husband and I have been dreaming of a new little front yard garden to replace our cherry trees that had to come down earlier this year. (Not victims of war as the Bride of Haarlem, but victims of poor decisions on the part of whoever planted them.)

The dream of a garden keeps my husband and me rooted here, connected to a place and dreaming of a future there.

Garden dreams open us all to healing and hope and looking ahead to a time we imagine will be better than the past we’re leaving behind. I’m grateful to Corrie and Betsie ten Boom for the reminder. It’s time to plunge my hands in the dirt.

Have you read The Hiding Place?
Did you read it along with me this past month, or have you read it previously? I’d love to have a book discussion in the comments below. Here are a few questions to get us started. Feel free to ask additional questions in your response:

  • What has stayed with you from the book?
  • Do you think you could be as brave as the ten Booms in similar circumstances?
  • Do you identify more with Corrie or Betsie in their approach to faith?
  • Did the book change you in any way?

6 thoughts on “Healing in the Hiding Place

  1. I read The Hiding Place when I was a teenager (I will be 60 years old next month). My Grandmother, who was a devout Christian, gave the book to me at a time in my life when I was filled with bitterness,anger & despair.I marveled at the deep unwavering faith that Betsy, Corrie and Father had in Christ Jesus.The two sister’s suffering was great; the guards at Ravensbruck were brutal.I don’t think I could ever be as brave as Corrie and Betsy were.I think one reason Corrie remained strong and steadfast was so that she could be of help to her frail sister Betsy. The Ten Booms are an example to all of us…..their legacy is one of faith,kindness,bravery and sacrifice. May they never be forgotten.

    • What a wonderful gift from your grandmother! The ten Booms were remarkable Christians, and like you, I hope they may never be forgotten. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to respond.

  2. Hope, thank you for this inspiration. I am literally about to walk out the door to plant our small vegetable garden. I have had a battle with anxiety the last few days and look forward to putting my hands into the soil. I need to re-read The Hiding Place. It was a long time ago when I did so.

    • I’m so glad you’ll get to spend time in your garden this morning. I hope it’s healing and hope your anxiety will abate quickly. I’d love to chat with you about the book sometime.

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