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Gateway to the Heart: A Transformed Mind – Part 1

It Started in a Garden, But Not That Garden!

            …  And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow…— Matthew 13:3

Victoria, British Columbia, is the proud guardian of the world-renowned historical site, Butchart Gardens. At first glance, any visitor — whether experienced botanist or tourist — would be amazed at the breadth of beauty displayed over 55 of the 135 acres available to the public. More than 1 million bedding plants, with 300,000 emerging bulbs and petals, and at least 900 varieties of flowers can be seen and experienced in color, size, and fragrance, yet hidden behind the blooming display is a truth that this garden was not always a garden. In fact, a limestone quarry generated the needed materials to build the growing metropolises of Portland and San Francisco. Hidden beneath the beauty of color, growth, and softness is the history of a cement quarry of gray, depletion, and hardness. It wasn’t until the early 1900s, after all the limestone deposits had been exhausted, that the creative mind of Jennie Butchart made plans to transform an exhausted pit of stone into the spectacular garden viewed by over a million people to date.[1]

The Vancouver Portland Cement Company plant above the Sunken Garden, the Mound and the Trout Pond, circa 1919 (City of Victoria Archives photo M00805)

Butchart Gardens is a visual parable of what Jesus spoke while sitting by a sea in Matthew 13. It is the Parable of the Sower that comes to life. It is a living example of the hope of the heart that may currently reside in a limestone quarry and yet has the potential to display a garden’s fruitfulness. It is a garden formed and transformed through a re-imagining of purpose and destiny.

In the following posts, I will share that before Jesus reminds us in the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13:1-23 that the heart can be seen in various stages of spiritual formation as compared to soil (hardened, shallow, crowded, and fruitful), He also challenges us to consider that our mind must be transformed. The foundation of understanding the mind as a gatekeeper, or a type of quarry to be excavated, is crucial in helping the heart be transformed and renovated. Dallas Willard insightfully states it thusly in The Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ

Accordingly, the greatest need you and I have — the greatest need of collective humanity — is renovation of our heart. That spiritual place within us from which outlook, choices, and actions come has been formed by a world away from God. Now it must be transformed. Indeed, the only hope of humanity lies in the fact that, as our spiritual dimension has been formed, so it also can be transformed.[2]

One of the places of formation that leads to the renovation (transformation) of the heart that Dallas is alluding to is a renewal of the mind.  

Romans 12:2 (NRSV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

You are loved!

[1] The Butchart Gardens, accessed August 2, 2016,

[2] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, Kindle ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002). (Kindle Locations 161-164).

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