For Father Benny Chittilappilly, a priest from southern India, gardening is about more than growing vegetables. It’s about time for meditation, about stress relief, and about better relating to the parishioners attending his Vermont, US, church. He first planted a garden at the parish about two years ago; he has since enlarged it with the help of church goers. Growing up in India, he was not interested in gardening. But he wanted to grow food for use at the rectory where he lives with other members of the Society of Divine Vocations. Gardening, he says, helps him better understand his parishioners who farm and garden and sometimes struggle with the weather. “I understand the effort people take to make a living (farming), and it depends on the weather,” Chittilappilly said. Nature offers many lessons, and “even a small garden gives me the opportunity to think about life and meditate on it,” he said.

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