As morning rays glow, and birds sing in heavenly choir, I stand with a hoe in hand, a tool belt around my waist and a battery operated hedge trimmer close by. As a Master Gardener who graduated in a class at Rockwell City prison, every half an hour a pause for inmate count, I learned the ability to landscape from an instructor in for murder. The prison grounds looked to be from a Martha Stewert garden exhibit, as he instructed inmates in horticulture, how to raise food for the prison in their greenhouses. Those of us lucky enough from the outside, to bravely go through security and join the inmates, gained a fantastic education — Church of the garden.
Hostas, shade flowers, classic sculptures, and border hedges shaped like rolling ocean waves are all around me. Giant Buddhist chimes resonate in Holy deep notes, and I am one with God in a way I seldom feel in a church. I have witnessed how being a steward of the land, is a place of quiet meditation, purpose. The garden is a place to manifest dreams and make plans. The plants do not analyze or worry about me singing off key, or what I wear. The garden is pure, and the process of weeding like the cleansing of negativity. The weed I clear may be of medical or herbal worth to someone else.
Like the Native Americans that thanked the animals they killed for food, I say thanks to the weed, and that I’m sorry I have to kill it. My plants are my flock, which as the Shepherd I watch over, my staff, the hoe in my hand.