I have a very short list of must-watch television programs. At the top of that list is Texas Country Reporter. I have been a big fan of this program for years. I think that Bob Phillips, the host, is one of the best storytellers around. Phillips and his film crew travel the Lone Star State to film stories of interesting places and fascinating people.
One of my favorite TCR segments is an interview that Phillips did with Texas artist and sculptor Bill Worrell who makes his home near Mason, Texas. Bill is well-known to those who appreciate southwest and Native American inspired art.
What I found especially interesting about Worrell is what he refers to as “his greatest work and latest creation.” It’s not what you might think — one of his expensive and much-sought-after works of art. Instead it is what he calls his Garden of Thorns.
Worrell set aside a small tract of land on his property, a place, he explained, where he “decided to bury a lot of garbage and junk from my past.” As Worrell and Phillips approached the Garden of Thorns, it looked like a “Boothill for Bad Habits” complete with weeds, thorns, and thistles among the headstones.
As Worrell walked into the barbed-wire enclosure, he approached a headstone with the word “Blame” chiseled into the stone. “Let’s take blame here, for example,” he told Phillips. “Probably somewhere around 1940 is when I started blaming everybody else for the bad things that happened to me. Somewhere around 1983 I realized that I’m the person to blame for things going wrong in my life. So, I changed.”
Worrell pointed out that he had also buried Hate and Fear and Shame, among other things. “So, Bill,” asked Phillips, “what you’re telling me is that you buried all your bad habits, your bad thoughts, all that?” Worrell replied, “Uh, not all of them but many of them. Still have some to go.” Worrell knows that he still has, what he calls, “thorns in the flesh” to deal with. But the good thing is that he is taking intentional steps to deal with those things.
I like Worrell’s Garden of Thorns and agree with his reason for burying the garbage and junk from his past there. “I decided,” said Worrell, “symbolically we ought to bury this stuff.” He’s right. It might do us all some good to have our own Garden of Thorns, a place where we can toss aside the kind of stuff that can wreck and ruin our lives.
As Worrell and Phillips walked away from the Garden of Thorns, Worrell remarked, “You know, Bob, I think that burying all this stuff has made me an even better artist than I was before.” Just imagine how much better we might be if we symbolically buried the garbage and junk of our own lives and left it there to rot and decay.