At St. Margaret’s annual retreat on February 14-16, 2020, Molly Blackwell shared her vision of a Meditation Garden behind St. Margaret’s with Peggy Twyman, Becky Doiron and Jean Faria Loupe. We were all in and the group met on February 25, 2020 at Brew Ha Ha’s and began plans to reclaim the existing outdoor altar, refurbish it and create a Meditation Garden for the congregation and community.
The Vestry authorized the exterior altar transformation work on February 28, 2020 and “the Builders” began their work during the spring. With axes, pruners, chain saws, shovels, and gallons of Roundup, the land was cleared, revealing the altar Molly and others had built years ago, when the back of the church property was an open field.
The Builders took pictures, discussed modifications, took notes and donated the funds to clear the land, haul away the piles of detritus from the property and to keep the back yard mowed. A statue of St. Francis of Assisi was placed near the altar. Two benches have been built and donated. Two more benches were built by two of the Builders have been added. A flower garden was planted with the help of St. Margaret’s children.
A locked prayer box has been attached to the tree closest to the altar with plans to install a plate that urges visitors to “[L]eave your burdens here.” Someone created a beautiful red and white mosaic tile. Recently, a bell tower was installed to alert the congregation to the start of services in the Meditation Garden.
The altar now has been completed, a beautiful cross was built by Michael Weber and placed behind the altar in the newly created Chapel of St. Francis. We will be reaching out to the Bishop to schedule the consecration of the altar. It is our hope that this space will be used for contemplative prayer groups for adult formation and an outdoor space for youth formation and activities.
Phase two of the Meditation Garden includes plans to create a large labyrinth and Stations of the Cross, apart from the altar. When covid-19 slows down the Builders plan to make a trip to Forest Hill to purchase and then plant azaleas and other shade loving plants in beds around the altar, and eventually around the entire Garden.
Last week the Builders participated in locating the cremains of three Episcopalians buried in Our Fathers Garden. For our work, we were gifted with items and flora for the Meditation Garden which will be installed in a few weeks.
As part of Phase Two, The Builders will be applying for a United Thank Offering (UTO) grant to create a space in which the name of every person who lived in East Baton Rouge Parish and has died as a result of covid-19 will be listed. We want to memorialize the people whom the pandemic has taken while offering the peace of the Meditation Garden to their mourners.
The larger vision shared by the members of The Builders, however, is to open this space up to the creativity and generosity of the entire congregation. When you walk back to see the progress made, you will experience the quiet of this sacred space. We invite the members of St. Margaret’s to participate in both the creation and enjoyment of this sacred space. Plant a shrub, put up a bird feeder, build a bench, donate to the Meditation Garden fund in honor or memory of a loved one, provide supplies listed in our “wish list.” We would like to thank all who have donated their time, talent, and treasure to the creation of this space.
It is our hope to witness all manner of life events and emotions expressed and shared in this sacred space with God and each other.