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April 23, 2020

Hearticulture: Tending to the Garden of our Spirit.

The heart is like a garden.

And as such, it requires certain elements in order to produce. It needs healthy soil, regular watering, and sunshine. The problem that many of us face is in our soil. You see, we have all had at least one relationship that sucked our soil dry of all of its nutrients, and left our garden dead. Not much can grow in dried up and cracking, lifeless, soil but weeds, no matter how much rain or sun it gets.

Weeds can be thought of as our heart wounds taking root, becoming fixtures in our internal landscape. Many of us go from relationship to relationship without tending to our garden, and before we know it, our weeds have become so dense that we can’t even see the garden bed; or our heart, and we wonder why nothing ever works out.

When I was a kid, my dad taught me that when the weeds get too tall, you have to take a weed whacker to them, and chop them down, so that they barely show above the ground surface. However, after doing so, the roots only reach deeper and stretch wider. The weeds return bigger and stronger, making it so you have to repeat the cycle, trying to cut them down again. I hated this work when I was young. Rather than finding a solution, the problem only becomes less visible.

This is what we do with our heart wounds. We hide them, but often they sprout up, in the form of triggered emotions and retired resentment. We keep up appearances, while below the surface there lies a deeply rooted, tangled network of roots that have taken over.

In my 20s, I spent six years relationship hopping, without any soil maintenance. I was left with a heart-garden where nothing could grow. I was tired of frivolously weed-whacking and determined to find a real solution. I needed to learn how to become a gardener of my heart.

Ironically, learning how to tend to myself, took place while I was living and working on farms in New Zealand, as well as Costa Rica. Learning how to grow food opened up a space for me to learn how to grow my own heart-fruit. The lessons and steps were the same.

If you try to yank a weed out of hard, dead soil, it will simply break off at the base, leaving the roots buried beneath. In order to pull it out by its roots, you must first soak the soil, allowing it to soften and release its hold. Love is the water that softens our heart-soil. And love is all around; we just have to allow it to rain down on us.

Once you soften the soil, it is best to carefully excavate the root system, and then slowly work it loose, as it pulls much of the soil out with it. Then shake the soil loose, and toss the weeds into a compost pile, where they die, decompose, and in time, transform into nutrient rich compost.

Once you clear the garden bed, you must fortify the soil with the basic necessary components for most plant life: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Then plant your seeds. If you do all of the work to create a healthy soil, but do not plant what you want to grow with intention, something you don’t want is guaranteed to take up residence.  

Different environments and climates require different types of soil. The three essential nutrients for my heart-soil are: Raw Nature, Dynamic Movement, and Creative Expression. These are the things that ensure rapid growth in my garden, and I sought them out for years, continuously infusing them into my being. And then the love rains came; from family, friends, and part-time-lovers. God/Source/Spirit was the sun, smiling and shining upon my heart, beckoning those first seeds to sprout.

The composted wound-weeds eventually broke down and transformed into lessons that further served to nourish my garden.

The work doesn’t stop there. Healthy gardens require constant, vigilant awareness, and maintenance. Pests will feed on the produce. Weeds will sneak back in, and if we catch these in the early stages, removing them is painless. If we do not, they will choke out the positive things we intended to grow.

Every so often, we must let our soil rest, after a harvest, to allow it time to rejuvenate. Right now, I am sitting on a mountain in the high desert doing just that. Sitting in absolute silent serenity.

Breathing.

Resting.

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