When someone mentions a heart, an image comes to my mind. If they are speaking physically, I imagine the red palpitating mass that is my heart. If they are speaking spiritually, I get quite a different image.
I've always envisioned my metaphorical heart to be sort of heart-shaped and squishy, like a real heart, but I also envision it to be a living entity, much akin to a garden, wherein grow various flowers, shrubs, trees, etc., related to my feelings and actions. For example, when I feel hatred, I feel that the garden in my heart has been dumped upon by hot black tar. When someone says something that hurts me, I feel a stab as if a long thorn had been jabbed into that heart. But when I feel love, I feel blossoming and vibrant.
There are abundant references to the heart in the scriptures. We are warned against hardening our hearts†, and the heart is often listed as one of the things we must give to God‡, along with our might, mind, and strength.
On Sunday I was thinking about my heart, and wondering if it really were a garden, what sort of things would grow there? And what sort of things should grow there? If I gave God my heart, and He planted something there, what would He plant?
My first thought was the tree of life that Nephi saw in his vision*. The tree represents the love of God, thus I should try to cultivate the love of God, which is Christ-like love, which is charity, in my heart.
This is not a little-known fact, but I found it interesting the string of thoughts that led me to this conclusion.
†See 1 Ne. 15:11; Helaman 12:2; Doctrine and Covenants 112:13.
Also see Psalms 95:8; Mark 8:17; Hebrews 3:8,15; 4:7; 1 Nephi 14:2,6; Jacob 6:4-6; Alma 12:10-37; 33:20-21; 34:31; Helaman 7:18; 3 Nephi 20:28; 21:6,22; Doctrine and Covenants 10: 53,65; and 45:6, to name a few.
‡See Doctrine and Covenants 4:2; 59:5; and 98:47.
*See 1 Ne. 11:25