On my bulletin board is a favorite verse:
Kind hearts are the gardens
Kind thoughts the roots
Kind words the flowers
Kind deeds the fruits.
Maybe these metaphors have special meaning for those of us who tend gardens – who drop seeds expectantly into furrows, or cover root balls gently with good soil, and rejoice to see delicate petals unfurl their heavenly hues. But as this verse suggests, everyone is a gardener, in a sense. Each of us is cultivating thought.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus emphasized the importance of watching our thinking. He gave numerous examples of how the thoughts we cultivate bear fruit in our lives. And St. Paul described such qualities as love, joy, and peace as fruits of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22).
The implication is that a life rich in such qualities begins with diligent thought-tending. Thoughts that don't come from the Spirit, or God – fearful or discouraging thoughts – need to be weeded out of consciousness to give place to those more natural to us – thoughts of peace, hope, gratitude, and affection. These flow constantly to us from the divine Mind, our true source.
A visitor to a grand estate open to the public was moved by the beauty of its extensive gardens. Seeing the gardener, she remarked, "You must spend hours and hours weeding!" His reply surprised her.
"Actually, I rarely have to," he said. "The perennials are so profuse, there's no room for weeds to sprout."
In that vein, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote to her students: "Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 210).
It's helpful to remember that undesirable, unproductive, unlovely thoughts aren't a part of us. They are rooted in what St. Paul called the carnal mind, opposed to God. To recognize this is to pull them up by their roots.
If we accept the carnal mind as our mind, we open ourselves up to a never-ending infestation. But to accept our connection with the divine Mind as His child is to find it more and more natural to be filled with good and productive ideas.
Sometimes when I'm walking through my gardens or gathering flowers for arrangements, I pause to appreciate and wonder at the perfect blossoms. It might be the flawless form of a dahlia, the softness of peony petals, or the sweetness of tiny forget-me-nots.
Then I often consider what these blossoms tell us about ourselves. Are they outward images of the loveliness within each one of us? Certainly God would not make His children any less beautiful or perfect than He would a flower. But what if our beauty or goodness seems hidden?
A couple in my town bought an old house that had been neglected for many years. After making extensive repairs and improvements to the house, they finally turned late in the spring to the gardens. By then these "gardens" were a mess, and the couple wondered if there was anything worth saving. But the wife went to work, one square foot at a time, uncovering perennials she hadn't known were there. The perennials soon came into bloom, and the couple was delighted.
God has planted good qualities in every one of us. They are perennial – undying – and they make up our real selfhood. We, too, can find joy in uncovering the beautiful blooms, or qualities, already present in our consciousness as we persevere in discarding ungodlike thoughts.