Cultivating the Garden of Our Heart

In honor of Spring's promise of renewal and rejuvenation, let's cultivate the garden of our heart so our thoughts (and, therefore, our actions) radiate the beauty and goodness of God.

By Amy Sparkman

Categories: Spring/Easter

A grateful heart a garden is
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.
First verse of A Grateful Heart A Garden Is by Ethel Wasgatt Dennis

With splashes of color and spurts of energy, spring emerges in our hearts and on the surrounding landscape. Like the budding trees and blooming bulbs, we wriggle out of dreary moods and shed layers of heavy clothing.

As parents, we relish spring's promise of renewal and restoration. As children, we thrill to the longer days and warmer weather. And together, we bask in a brighter outlook, and delight in the perennial reminder that we can lighten our hearts with spring-like thoughts.

In honor of spring, which officially began on March 20th, let's cultivate the garden of our heart so our thoughts (and, therefore, our actions) radiate the beauty and goodness of God. It's really no different from planting a garden of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

After all, what keeps our garden growing? Good planning, good soil, good water, and lots of sunlight. Consider the similarities between how you plant and care for your garden and how you plant and care for your thinking!

Prepare the soil
Let's start by turning over the soil. If you're working in an outdoor garden, this means pulling out the dead growth and loosening the hardened dirt – opening it to the fresh air, showering it with pure water, and priming it for new growth.

How can you do this in the soil of your thinking? Has it been hardened by rigid opinions and feelings? How about moods, pet peeves, or timeworn habits? You might need a shovel to dig up and yank them out!

One helpful way to prepare your garden is to put together a list of mental debris. You could start with words or phrases you want to stop using – and the reasons why they can hinder good growth. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Swear words – stifle creativity
  • "I hate…" - multiplies out of control and destroys everything in its path
  • "No!" – is a hard rock of resistance that doesn't allow flexibility
  • "I'm tired…" - wilts beauty and withers sturdiness
  • "I can't…" - limits opportunity
  • "Whatever!" – stunts growth, stopping it dead in its tracks

Plant the Seeds
Once the soil is prepared, we choose what we want to grow -- what variety, color, shape, and size plant, and how many of each. Our choices are guided by our vision for the garden.

Just so, the quality and quantity of our thoughts guide our vision for our personal life. But what thoughts should we have? Thoughts established – that is, grounded and deeply rooted! – in Genesis 1:26. Thoughts of one, infinite, all-good, all-loving God. Thoughts of our identity as God's image and likeness.

Maintain Your Garden
What keeps our garden growing? Above all, TLC – tender loving care! This is the kind of care that waters the garden first thing in the morning when everything is fresh and on the verge of another active day. It adjusts the nozzle of the hose just right. It aerates the soil when it’s brittle or hard-packed, and snips off the dead blossoms to make room for the newest buds. And there’s always weeding, which opens the way for the sunlight to warm the soil, soak up the dew, brighten the shades of color, and even highlight the areas that need better tending.

How are we maintaining our thinking? Are we watering it with inspiration first thing in the morning…before we dig into another active day? Do we welcome the sunlight of personal reflection…even to highlight the areas that need better tending?

Are we consistently pouring in love and weeding out the destructive habits so that each thought can breathe and grow tall and sturdy? Do we dig up overgrown and outgrown opinions? Do we prune back the outlandish and wayward viewpoints that would crowd out beauty and grace?

And, finally, are we pausing each day to appreciate the radiant qualities of beauty, purity, goodness, vitality, symmetry, balance, grace, and individuality in our own and each other's gardens?

One True Source
In every garden, there is only one source – only one God. And the greatest of all the commandments reminds us to keep it that way – to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (KJV: Matthew 22:37)

In Full Bloom
If the vision for your garden is strong and clear, your garden will be beautiful. It will bud and bloom in a wide array of colors, sizes and shapes. It will flourish throughout the season.

If the vision for your heart is also strong and clear, it will also bud and bloom. But it will do so throughout the year. There is no end to the growing season for the garden in your heart and the beauty of your thoughts. In fact, there's no reason for these thought flowers to ever wilt or die – after all, they are the everlasting reflection of God's goodness and abundance, Love reflected in love. A well-tended garden grows the most beautiful flowers – and a well-tended heart has the most beautiful thoughts!

Family Project
To truly illustrate this, you and your children could easily start an indoor window garden with a package of seeds, a small bag of soil, a dozen small cups, and a southwestern-facing window.

Everyone can participate in the daily gardening routine – and enjoy the abundance of flowers that will bloom and grow.

Work within your family to nurture one another's thought gardens each and every day. Loosen the soil before it hardens, and pull out the weeds before they choke the plants - harden into unpleasant habits. Watch for new seedlings to sprout. See them grow strong and stable.

Now, let's plant a garden that sparkles in the sunlight!