Chapter Three: ON THE GARDEN OF THE HEART
THE new life you have just entered has often been likened to that of a gardener. The soil he tills he has received from God, as well as the seed and the sun's warmth and the rain and the power to grow. But the work is entrusted to him.
If the husbandman wishes to have a rich harvest, he must work early and late, weed and aerate, water and spray, for cultivation is beset by many dangers that threaten the harvest. He must work without ceasing, be constantly on watch, constantly alert, constantly prepared; but even so, the harvest ultimately des wholly on the elements, that is, on God.
The garden that we have undertaken to tend watch over is the field of our own heart; the harvest is eternal life.
Eternal, because it is independent of time and space and other external circumstances: it is the true life of freedom, the life of love and mercy and light, that has no bounds whatever, and for just that reason is eternal. It is a spiritual life in a spiritual dominion: a state of being. It begins here, and has no end, and no earthly power can coerce it; and it is to be found in the human heart.
Persecute yourself, says St. Isaac of Syria, and your enemy is routed as fast as you approach. Make peace with yourself, and heaven and earth make peace with you. Take pains to enter your own innermost chamber and you will see the chamber of heaven, for they are one and the same, and in entering one you behold them both. The stairway to the kingdom is within you, secret in your soul. Cast off the burden of sin and you will find within you the upward path that will make your ascent possible.
The heavenly chamber of which the saint speaks here is another name for eternal life. It is also called the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, or quite simply, Christ. To live in Christ is to live in eternal life.