Below is Sarah Westbrook's "Heart Treatise," given as part of her speech at Heartwood's Spring Event: Planting Seeds of Health & Hope: Emerging Strong from Covid. The treatise is part vow to oneself, part Covid era Manifesto.
The HEART has been described as a GARDEN by almost every spiritual tradition. Why?
How is a garden different from any other space where things grow? The garden is a particular haven, a sanctuary, a place of beauty, surprise, delight. To walk a garden is to separate oneself from the daily toil, to contemplate, to notice, to enliven the senses.
1. The word comes from the Old English "geard" meaning enclosure. It sounds like "guard."
· a guarded place: it feels natural to protect the vulnerable heart.
· a constructed paradise, borne of much forethought and a lot of work.
· Zen gardens appeared as places that could cultivate reflection and wisdom.
2. A Garden is an escape, a respite, not just for the privileged elite, but a necessary public good worth protecting
· As cities became more polluted, public gardens became treasures, worth protecting and fighting to preserve, like our beautiful lakefront.
3. A garden is CULTIVATED.
· A garden is DISTINCT from the wilds of nature. A garden is cultivated. To cultivate means to "inhabit arable land."
I WANT TO LIVE ON ARABLE LAND.
MY HEART IS PLACE WHERE THINGS MAY GROW.
TO BE A PLACE OF RESPITE AND BEAUTY, MY HEART MUST BE CULTIVATED.
IT CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO LAY FALLOW,
FALL INTO RUIN OR BE TAKEN OVER BY WEEDS.
THIS SPACE IS SACRED.
I WILL WORK WITH THIS PLOT OF LAND, I WILL IMPROVE THE SOIL,
I WILL IMPROVE THE DRAINAGE.
I WILL STUDY HOW THE LIGHT HITS THIS GARDEN IN THE MORNING, MIDDAY AND AFTERNOON.
I WILL CLOSELY ATTEND TO THE PLANTS,
NOTICING WHEN THEY WILT OR GET DISEASES.
I WILL PLANT AND FAIL AND THEN PLANT AGAIN.
I WILL FORGET WHAT I HAVE PLANTED AND THEN BE DELIGHTED TO SEE A BELOVED PLANT RE-EMERGE IN SPRING.
I WILL BE SO HAPPY WHEN I SEE A WORM.
I WILL BE FILTHY, SO THIS PLACE MAY BE BEAUTIFUL.
To plant a seed of health and hope is to begin this rescue, renovation and cultivation of your heart space. It starts with anything healthy that helps you feel better, some movement, a massage, being listened to. It starts with being attended to, cared for and shown that you matter. Let us help you. We are the Practitioners of Heartwood, professional gardeners of the heart.