Re-Dedication of Memorial Garden

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A Space for All Seasons

The Hebrew sacred stories of creation, told primarily in Genesis 1 and 2, provide at least two different ways of imagining how all “this” began. In the first, “the earth was a formless void,” a hovering chaos held—suspended—gently in the palm of God. The Cosmic Creative will was expressed in a voice: “God said, let there be…”—the Divine called order from the messy stew. A roughhewn period of “six days” and a Sabbath’s rest were invoked from the vast nothingness.

In Genesis 2, another story is told; and in this tale, God digs in the dirt. God creates a garden—Eden—and scoops up a lump of clay. God took the dirt—red clay—and fashioned a human form and breathed the breath of God, the spirit of life, into it and it—we—became animated. God held us and looked upon us with absolute delight—pure joy. We are, as one theologian says, God’s “red clay, squishy baby.” We are God’s beloved, formed from the earth; God’s breath and earth’s red clay are our parents, providers, and caretakers.

There are times when the chaos threatens to overwhelm us and still other periods when we feel expelled from the garden of God’s care. And our souls long for the quiet center. We hunger for home. I suspect that for as long as humans have been able to find some harmony with nature, we have been creating and tending gardens—and they have been tending us. Vegetable gardens primarily feed our bodies; gardens, as set-aside sacred space, will tend our souls. For if, indeed, we are creatures of the earth, then we have both a physical and spiritual connection to the soil.

Eight years ago on May 27, 2007, we dedicated a portion of the space trusted to our care as a quiet space for us to reconnect with our true nature—to remember who and whose we are. Like all of God’s creations, the Woodhaven Memorial Garden requires maintenance and tending.

In August of this year, Richard Guzman, a member of Boy Scout Troop 508, prayerfully accepted as his Eagle Scout Project the sacred responsibility of leading us in a re-visioning, renewal, and rebirth of this sacred space.

Over the months, with the help of the leaders, parents, and scouts of troop 508, and members of Woodhaven, (especially, Dennis LaCaze, Hank Wahrmund, Pat Gwyn, Bill Koenig and his grandson Nelson, Amy Hudson, Addason Cox, Ottlynne Caviness, Robert Howes, Mary Klinetobe, and Ted Stocksdale), God’s garden at Woodhaven was given new life. Richard not only received his Eagle Scout, but also was the first recipient of the District Eagle Project of the Year and the Council Project of the Year. With deliberation and purpose, Richard devised an open concept memorial garden to incorporate not only the original memorial stones and monuments, but also precious memorial works from St. Stephen’s. The “new” Memorial Garden is a tangible reminder that God is a creating God who continues to bring forth new beauty and life into our new faith community.

The plants and other vegetation in the memorial garden all have their own season—and so do we. The seeds and bulbs buried in the ground—covered in darkness—will need to “let go” and simultaneously send roots to the depths and push through the soil to the sunlight. There will be seasons of lush blossoms and months of slumber, waiting for spring’s promise. It is a rhythm that we know— internally as well as seasonally. This renewed sacred space will tend and renew us in return. And the garden will need to be watered, just like us.

It is the practice in this worshipping community that whenever one of our Dear Ones is baptized, we are all invited to “remember our baptism, and be thankful.” It is a reminder that we are all always in God’s care and love—God is with us and nurtures us. As we re-dedicate our Memorial Garden, as we care for it and in turn receive its nurture, let us remember our baptism, and be thankful. Let us remember that God holds us tenderly—in times of chaos and creation. Let us remember that we are beloved children of God made from “sacred stuff” of this earth.

In the words of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah:

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places,

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

~ Isaiah 58:11

Indeed, God will continue to be ever-present with us and this Memorial Garden can be a sacred space for all the seasons of our planet and of our lives.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

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