Belated thanks to everyone who helped prepare for and host our Open House! It was a wonderful day connecting with each other and with visitors. See photos below!
Posted in Welcome Garden
If you see some brightly colored rocks in the Welcome Garden next to West Concord Union Church, you’ve just discovered WCUC Sunday School’s “Kindness Rocks Project.” This simple yet powerful way of sharing messages of hope originated in the mind and heart of Megan Murphy, a mother of three from the Cape going through a life transition.
Each day she would walk on the beach looking for signs that closing her business and going back to school was the right decision. One day in 2013, she was inspired to decorate five ordinary beach rocks with messages of encouragement and return them to the beach. The next night, knowing nothing about their origin, one of Murphy’s close friends texted her a photograph of a rock she’d found on the beach with the message, “You’ve Got This!” It was just the sign Murphy needed to continue on her path. Just four years later, there are kindness rocks being made all over the world from the Cape to New Zealand!
The WCUC Sunday School decided to adopt this Kindness Rocks Project as a way of resisting hate and spreading hope within our community. Come on by the Welcome Garden and check out the messages our children have created. Feel free to take a rock with you or add one of your own. But you might want to come over soon! Kindness rocks have a way of finding new homes quickly! For more information about the Kindness Rocks Project and how to make your own rocks go to: http://thekindessrocksproject.com
Yesterday we hosted our first “Blessing of the Animals” service outside in the Welcome Garden. We listened to the creation story, sang, and presented our animal companions (or photos of them) to be blessed by Pastor Hannah. After the blessing, each human received a blue ribbon that reads: “Beloved Friend, Blessed at WCUC” to tie onto the pet’s cage or collar. Here are a few photos from this very special service.
As I was walking up from my house to the Welcome Garden last Saturday, I was joined by a woman who had moved recently to the neighborhood. She noticed that I was carrying pruners and garden gloves and asked me where I was going. I explained. Her response was music to my ears. “Is that the place with the labyrinth? It is so wonderful; it’s like an open ministry to the whole community.” That, of course, is what we had prayed for when we imagined and created the Welcome Garden.
On Saturday, spring cleanup day at WCUC, a team of gardeners went to work in our Welcome Garden with loppers and rakes, hedge clippers and gloved hands to spruce up the area for Holy Week and the coming season. The winter, harsh as it was, had not left a great deal of damage. Indeed, all that snow cover probably protected the plants. Once leaf litter was cleared away, we saw ample evidence of new growth.
Indoors, a companion team cleaned out closets, cleaned and straightened up the meeting places in the building. As we did in the garden, I believe they too looked around at the end of the morning and felt grateful that so many hands had once again made our sacred and beloved home a “Welcome Place.”
Usually, when people talk about walking around in circles, they mean they’re not getting anywhere. Remember the Winnie the Pooh story, where Piglet and Pooh traipse round and round a little copse of woods in search of Woozles, only to have Christopher Robin point out that the prints they were so fearfully tracking were actually their own?
Unlike Pooh and Piglet, visitors to our Welcome Garden walk around in circles quite intentionally — pacing around our stone labyrinth in a kinetic prayer, a deliberate slowing, a meditative journey. There’s something about winding along the twisting circuits that calms the mind and restores the spirit.
A book I’m reading, Labyrinths from the Outside In: Walking to Spiritual Insight, by the Revs. Donna Schaper and Carole Ann Camp, offers up a spiritual perspective on the ancient practice of walking a labyrinth. “Many of us live life walking in circles without much intention,” they write. “We feel a little caught, trapped, encumbered: we make our next move because somebody else or some other thing mades its move.” But walking a labyrinth is different: “Here we walk in a circle with much intention. We let the circle guide us as we guide our feet. We un-know. We untangle. We twist and turn toward peace, away from powerlessness.”
Think about walking the labyrinth as “the spiritual acknowledgment of life’s ups and downs, ins and outs,” they say, and recognize what the labyrinth shows us: “that in every end there is a beginning.”
See you in the garden! –KC