Gardening the Heart (formerly Parable Garden) encourages and resources outdoor nurture of spirituality and well-being for all ages, through aspects of cultivation, seasonal cycles, processes in nature and creativity.
The restorative benefits of taking time to 'be' outdoors are well known, to wonder at the inherent beauty of the natural world in different seasons, to participate in natural cycles of nurture and growth such as gardening, agriculture and care for land and trees. People of all ages and across different cultures and beliefs describe how they feel a sense of God's presence, closeness to God or a sense of the spiritual when outdoors.
In the Christian Bible God often models spiritual truth in the physical world, which is why David the psalmist describes the whole earth reflecting his glory (Psalm 72:19). God gave Solomon great wisdom and it is recorded that he taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish (1 Kings 4:33) and wrote about them in his proverbs to illustrate character strengths and weaknesses.
As one of history’s most creative communicators, Jesus awakens spiritual enquiry and helps people to understand spiritual truths and journey using everyday objects, relationships and processes in nature. In much of his creative teaching he engagingly illustrates aspects of the Kingdom of God using parables about seed sowing, watering and harvesting, trees, sheep, mustard seeds, pearls, water,... His own spiritual journey of thirty three years, documented in the Bible, seemed to have been spent mostly outdoors, going up hills and mountains as well as into gardens to pray, out onto lakes to teach, to be alone in the desert, on long walks with others...
Gardening the Heart is a contemporary expression of a longstanding Christian spiritual tradition, following Jesus's example, in drawing useful parallels from within the processes of cultivation, gardening, caring for land and wildlife as tools to nurture spirituality and well-being. Taking time to be outdoors whether walking, sitting quietly, being active whilst intentionally opening the spiritual eyes and ears of our hearts to the lessons we can learn from nature, can be transformational.
Online Gardening the Heart offers:
- programmes, materials and ideas for using the outdoors to support school ethos enrichment and well-being that meet SIAMS criteria.
- collective worship and outdoor seasonal reflections to nurture spirituality and well-being
- information about creative workshops and resources for groups and churches
- a seasonal blog
- publications for use by church leaders, chaplains
For your church or group setting Gardening the Heart can facilitate:
- or help you host outdoor seasonal retreat days or half-days
- outdoor creative teaching, worship and prayer workshops for all ages
- workshops exploring the use of therapeutic gardening and creativity in healing
- planning and development of reflective garden areas