St. Paul’s recently recognized the 10th anniversary of the Memorial Garden, which was blessed on site with a service of The Holy Eucharist on August 7, 2005. This beautiful resource is located in the middle of the New Cemetery, north of the Parish Hall. While its origins are relatively recent, we are beholden to the prescient planners of the 1950’s who when laying out the plan for additional cemetery space, reserved a 40 x 200 foot area in its center which would remain undeveloped, i.e., without planned burial lots. However, they did wish it to be used and landscaped the periphery with now majestic oaks and well-developed English boxwood. In late 2002, then Rector, the Reverend Robert K. Gieselmann, called an ad hoc committee to convert the space to a more organized form suitable for spiritual meditation and perhaps the interment of ashes of those persons who wished their remains to be returned directly to the good earth. After several months of discussion of the elements conducive to meditation and working with a local landscape architect, the attached design was approved in October 2003, and construction started.
The plan consists of two large courtyards anchoring each end of the Memorial Garden’s east-west axis. The east end being a teaching area or perhaps an area for groups to meet. The west end was designed to accommodate a labyrinth, which has been used for centuries for increased focus during spiritual meditation. The design selected for the seven circuit labyrinth is that taken from the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy (see accompanying article and diagram). Between the courtyards are two smaller alcoves for additional privacy during meditation. One will note that inside the MG, there are no corners and the only sharp edges are at the entrances to the MG. This design feature is intended to separate the sharpness of the outside world from the inside peacefulness of the MG. Furthermore, this particular feature of separation is emphasized by the plantings which consist of three levels of growth; the tall oaks, the midsized dogwoods and shrubs, and the groundcover. While one can’t very well see in, the perspective to the outside is softened by the vegetation, i.e., while there is a sense of solitude, there is no sense of isolation. The curving pathway adds to the sense of peacefulness.
The MG is equipped with its own well and irrigation system. Watering of the plants occurs when the moisture content of the air is sensed to be low and the irrigation system turns on and waters the garden. There are four memorial chairs in the MG in the alcoves and two long benches in the east courtyard. There have been eight interments of the ashes of Parishioners and of Friends of St. Paul’s. The general location of several of the interments are indicated with the installation of memorial bricks inserted in the edging of the pathway. The MG is one of St. Paul’s treasured assets and readers are urged to visit and linger a while.
The design architect was Amber D. Jensen, of Halcyon, LLC (formerly of Chestertown, Maryland) and the builders were Unity Landscape, Design/Build, Inc. of Church Hill, Maryland.
We welcome visitors and all inquiries and our Parish Secretary will help you locate specific memorials, if you should desire to do so.
Enquiries about the churchyard, the cemetery or memorial garden may be directed to the Parish Administrator during the week at 410-778-1540.