St. Mary's Sacred Garden

The garden is a comtemplative place, a welcome and peaceful place. See the following video (spring of 2016) that provides an overview. It's narrated by parishioner, Mike Simpson.


The Sacred Garden welcomes you.
The gates show the way in and are always open 24/7.

Originally inaugurated in the summer of 2012,
like each of us, the Sacred Garden is always a work-in-progress and still growing!


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St. Mary's Labyrinth

In April 2016, a video, narrated by Leslie Davies, was produced to explain the labyrinth experience as part of St. Mary's Sacred Garden. See below.


The Labyrinth, which completed the building of the Sacred Garden, was opened in 2015. The following video by Joshua Dobrowolski (it's also posted on YouTube) gives a 'bird's-eye-view' of the completed project. CLICK on the PHOTO BELOW to see for yourself.


More FACTS About
the LABYRINTH in ST. MARY'S SACRED GARDEN:

  • Did you know that the vision statement directing the design of our new church is: A pilgrim journey from the secular to the spiritual punctuated by significant artworks. The Sacred Garden is an essential part of that pilgrim journey. Within our Sacred Garden, blessed by Bishop Frederick Henry on Sept. 7, 2014 we have a labyrinth. In the Middle Ages, walking a cathedral labyrinth was a substitute for going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Not everyone could make the long and arduous journey to the Holy Land, so walking a labyrinth in a church was a devotional activity. Today, church labyrinths are used as walking meditations, to focus the mind and put the walker in tune with their own sacred journey.

  • The labyrinth in our Sacred Garden is a 7-circuit model. A labyrinth is viewed as a walking meditation, a path of prayer and an archetypal blueprint where psyche meets Spirit. It has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center. Unlike a maze where you can lose your way, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help you find your way. The labyrinth is a metaphor of our spiritual journey toward God, a journey that can have many unexpected twists and turns, but that always and ever leads us to our God, our centre. For a short video introduction to the labyrinth, check out the following INTRODUCTION to ST. PAUL'S LABYRINTH - click HERE.

  • Labyrinths are currently being used world-wide as a way to quiet the mind, recover a balance in life, and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection and celebration. They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural blueprint for spiritual well-being. The practice of labyrinth walking integrates the body with the mind and the mind with the spirit. The labyrinth in our Sacred Garden is open 24/7. We hope you will check it out soon!

  • If several people walk a labyrinth together, they may pass one another, going in either the same direction or opposite to each other. They may pass in meditative silence or quietly salute each other by a nod of the head or a raising of the hands. The effect of meeting fellow pilgrims on the path is part of the labyrinth experience. The labyrinth is a joyfully sacred space -- you do not need to be somber around it. But if someone is walking the labyrinth, it is courteous to respect the need they may have for quiet concentration.

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For more interesting background about St. Mary's SACRED GARDEN, two articles are reprinted below. Both have been written by Warren Harbeck.

ARTICLE #1 is from Warren's column, "Coffee with Warren" in The Cochrane Eagle in 2012.
ARTICLE #2 is from The Kolbe Times/Spring-Summer Edition in 2014.

Article #1

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 18, 2012

Mother Teresa's quote, "Let us do something beautiful for God," defines the Sacred Garden at Cochrane's St. Mary's Catholic Church.

A recently installed plaque outside one of Cochrane's churches features a quote from the renowned missionary humanitarian of Calcutta, Mother Teresa. It reads, "Let us do something beautiful for God." The words are inscribed in a 42-inch steel plate in a beautiful setting of its own, nestled in the centre of a circle of paving stones beneath a bold-timbered arbour in the Sacred Garden at the southwest corner of St. Mary's Catholic Church south of the Bow River.

The Sacred Garden, a work in progress, has drawn on the contributions of many skilled craftspeople and volunteers to fashion its restful space. The driving force behind the project is our Cochrane-area coffee companion Mike Simpson. Mike is no stranger to doing beautiful things. Among many other achievements over the years, his past engineering career involved designing bridges to bring people together. The Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is an example of his firm's involvement. In the Sacred Garden, however, a bridge of a different kind has been created: a bridge between the visible and the Invisible.

That's why, I think, Mike's committee settled on the quote from Mother Teresa to define the Sacred Garden. In fact, I was given the honour of selecting the quote. So, just how do I see her wish for us to "do something beautiful for God" working out in our foothills community? Here are three thoughts that come to my mind immediately, and regular readers of these columns won't be at all surprised by my suggestions:

The beauty of longing hearts. There is an awe-inspiring quality inherent in beauty, whether it's the magnificence of a sunset or the glory of a fragrant garden. In the context of such beauty our hearts find satisfaction for their hunger for the Beautiful One, the Creator of all, expressed in the sensory-awakening splendour of sky and earth.

The beauty of listening hearts. In the quietude of such space, away from the distraction of the noisy world outside, we can come aside for a few minutes to discern the Still Small Voice of God, and consider how we can hear each other's voices better along life's too-often-self-absorbed journey.

The beauty of loving hearts. Here, amidst symbols of the Holy, we can reflect on how we can better practice the loving-kindness of gentle mercy and forgiveness of which the prophets of old wrote and to which Jesus invites us.

So, may the Sacred Garden at St. Mary's Church provide a beautiful quiet space where people of holy longing can pause and experience a bridge between the visible and the Invisible.

May it be a place where longing hearts find rest for their souls as they seek to hear the voice of God in the quiet surroundings and from deep within.

And may visitors go forth from this Sacred Garden into the wider community with a renewed determination to do - and to be - "something beautiful for God" through the beauty of their loving hearts.

© 2012 Warren Harbeck JoinMe@coffeewithwarren.com

You are always welcome in the Sacred Garden.


Article #2

From: The Kolbe Times, May 2014 (To link to the entire Kolbe Times Spring/Summer Issue, click here.)

SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD

By Warren Harbeck

Two journeys merge into one at St. Mary's Church in Cochrane. Both journeys take the pilgrim parishioner from the secular to the spiritual, guided by the light of sacred beauty.

[Image on the left: St. Mary's, Cochrane, Alberta]

The first is the pilgrim's journey into the community's collective worship experience within the building, a journey punctuated by sacred art to facilitate the transition. (See article in Fall 2013 issue at www.kolbetimes.com).

The second is the pilgrim's journey into the quiet solitude of the Sacred Garden, adjacent to the church, to the left of the iconic bell tower at the arched main entrance. The garden's wrought-iron gate is always open, both for parishioners or anyone in the wider community seeking a place for contemplation and meditation.

The garden journey begins with a walk along the Rosary Path, its bead-like paving stones taking the pilgrim to the foot of three rugged crosses that stand along the crest of the berm at the far side, and culminating in the prayerful journey-within-the-journey of a labyrinth (under construction).


[Image on the right: The Rosary Path, St. Mary's Sacred Garden]


Along the way, the pilgrim may pass through an historic stone arch and pause for a few minutes by a sparkling fountain, the bell tower rising in the distance as one with the fountain's leafy custom-crafted design. A gentle breeze may embrace the seeker with a wildflower-scented hug from the garden's meandering mosaic of myriad plants and blossoms.


[Image to the left: Mike Simpson, the visionary behind the Sacred Garden;
and Glen Lott, sculptor of the metal fountainhead]




Crossing over a small arched bridge, the pilgrim arrives at a bold-timbered arbour beneath which rests an antique bell linking the sojourner with generations past. Beside the bell, nestled within a circle of paving stones, is a metal plate inscribed with words lovingly associated with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: "Let's do something beautiful for God."


[Image on the right: Bell and plaque]



In the spirit of that invitation, the pilgrim finally arrives at the hub of the garden; the labyrinth, a place to experience the mystery of holiness in a more personal way as, step by step, meditation and contemplation are woven together into a banner of inner transformation in the journey toward becoming someone truly beautiful for God.


It is in this sense that the St. Mary's Church Sacred Garden merges with the building's interior space. Together they offer a window through which - individually and collectively as the people of God, with gratitude for the gift of our companions along the way - we come to experience more meaningfully the One we worship.


St. Mary's Church is located on River Heights Drive in Cochrane, Alberta. Warren Harbeck is a religious studies scholar, linguist, photographer and parishioner at St. Mary's. He can be reached at warren@harbeck.ca. See www.stmaryscochrane.ca for more information about the parish.

Photos in these articles are by Warren Harbeck

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