Moving Forward with plans for a Meditation/Memorial Garden for our church
In September the Board of Trustees approved the Meditation/ Memorial Garden Committee to renew the work to plan, fundraise and build a garden behind the sanctuary for the church. The committee, led by Jeff Blum and Anne Laukaitis, reached the point of a final approved plan in 2020 and were interviewing possible contractors when the pandemic intervened and the committee was adjourned. During the planning phase before COVID struck, there was much conversation with members and various committees about the hoped-for garden. It is envisioned as a sacred outdoor space, where small services, rituals, musical events, and other gatherings can take place. A very important component of the garden will be a dedicated space for cremains of members and family members. Plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers will be native North Carolinian plants and be good choices environmentally.
Ideas for funding that were generated during the planning included partial funding with engraved memorial bricks that will be used to establish paths and can be purchased to remember and honor loved ones. Donors will be able to gift trees or shrubs or benches. When the New Year 2023 begins, the committee plans to actively résumé work. Gail Smith-Arrants and Rev. Amy Rio have joined Jeff Blum and Anne Laukaitis on this committee. Landscape architect Laurel Holzapple, with whom the committee worked throughout the planning process, has agreed to assist with this next phase in 2023. The MMG Committee is committed to keeping our members informed and involved as the church moves forward in stages with the longed for garden.
Memorial/meditation gardens can be small and special in home settings also. My own garden over the years is a treasury of memories for my family. When my children Ted and Kate were preschoolers, they attended the Children’s Schoolhouse in Cornelius and I was very involved as a parent and later as a teacher. I treasured those years in that parent cooperative school. A tiny Japanese maple seedling in a 5 oz. cup was gifted by a boy on his third birthday to every student and teacher. My adult tree is a descendant of the original tree and loved as memory of those happy years. The Schoolhouse was the beginning of a thirty four year career in early childhood education and leadership.
My favorite tree is a balsam planted at Christmas in 1979 when my sister Marge and her very young children, Amy and Aaron, visited; it honors them and their father, who had been killed in a tragic accident the prior year.
A special place is set side for a favorite dog, Marley, who lived first with my daughter Kate and her family and then with Bill and me. When she died, Rev. Robin Tanner helped us with a memorial service in my garden that was a source of comfort to all of us. The children had parts to read. We placed a stone and planted a fern to remember Marley.
My brothers Jack and Vince each have special places in the garden Vince described my garden when the grandchildren were very small and there was a lot of play equipment around, as a playground in the Garden of Eden. Jack and Vince are missed but remembered.
One section celebrates my family’s Irish heritage and my sisters Mary and Marge
The most recent addition remembers my husband Bill who died a year ago. Bill loved the garden and tended the fountain, the lights and bird feeders. My garden is a source of comfort and a place of reflection, changing from season to season and year to year, as our church garden will be for all of us when it is completed!
Anne Laukaitis, November 2022