Unity of Charlottesville is host to an innovative, artistic Meditation Garden designed to facilitate interfaith harmony and ecological stewardship. The garden will offer 15 meditation spaces along a woodland path. Each space will reflect a different religion in its design and components – a Japanese bridge leading to the Zen Garden, a Mandala Garden representing Hinduism, a seated Buddha in the Buddhism garden. Along with ideas about how to make each meditation space unique, Pike’s vision includes river stones available to visitors along their path, to add to cairns started by other meditators. Cairns have long served as structures built collectively along pilgrimage roads such as the Camino de Santiago. The cairns underline the idea of the spiritual journey that we all walk, each journey individual yet supported by others along the way.
Another component includes chimes hung high in the grove of trees, creating an audible component to the garden. The Meditation Garden will engage all of the senses— sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. The experience will be one that invites visitors to step outside everyday life and be fully surrounded in nature. “We’ve always thought of our Unity campus as a place where people of all faiths and denominations can come to seek greater connection with themselves, others, and the God of their understanding, by whatever name or concept,” said Rev. Don.
“Throughout the centuries, gardens and beautifully landscaped areas have served the practitioners of all faith traditions to provide a space of quiet and reflection,” said Rev. Patricia. “This was our hope when we created a replica of the Labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral at Unity several years ago, and it is our hope as we move forward to create an interfaith meditation garden that honors all of the world’s great spiritual traditions.” Charlottesville currently offers park space for hiking, biking and picnicking, but there are few quiet, contemplative spaces such as this new Unity Meditation Garden.
Unity’s Landscape and Leadership Teams feel that another important reason to provide this Meditation Garden for the Charlottesville community is the change in social tenor in this country and around the world. Locally, nationally and internationally our social fabric is threatened. The Citizenry of Charlottesville was shaken by the violent occurrences of August, 2017. The divisive underbelly of what seemed an open and inclusive community was exposed. Unity of Charlottesville wishes to extend the idea of respect for different belief systems that make us much more like each other than unlike. Now is the time to facilitate mutual acceptance and respect by providing a public square for inclusive dialogue, welcoming to individuals and groups within our community. “In a time when there is so much division, separation and hostility between people of different faiths, our hope is that this beautiful public space will be a place that celebrates both our Unity and our diversity as one human family,” said Rev. Patricia.
Charlottesville currently offers park space for hiking, biking and picnicking, but there is no quiet, contemplative space such as this. Studies have shown that contemplation and meditation have proven health benefits. The Garden will be a Community Health Asset, facilitating peace of mind and stress relief through meditation and contemplation and will advance Charlottesville’s natural and cultural reputation, providing a restful haven for all to enjoy.
Anyone interested in becoming a part of this creative effort is invited to contact Michelle Pike at firstname.lastname@example.org.