No 15: In The Garden


Every church I attended when I was growing up had the Gospel Hymnal with all the songs numbered to help people find them quickly. We all knew Number 60 was The Old Rugged Cross. Dad’s favorite was No. 234, Children of the Heavenly Father, a traditional Swedish hymn that he preferred to sing in Swedish. For Mom, it was Higher Ground and for some reason I cannot remember its number for certain, though I think it was 117. Mine was number 15 – In the Garden.

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.

That songs speaks to the ecstatic experience – which though associated with faith can be experienced by anyone in the presence of absolute beauty. I remember the first time I had such a moment. I was six and visiting my sister and her family. We were at the Falls and exploring this garden that had a floral clock and the mist rose up from the falls making everything and everyone fall away. It seemed I was a alone in a fog of flowers. I stopped still and remember wondering if it was real or if I were dreaming. It was a profound experience, a kind of joy born solely out of beauty. I remember feeling the same way when I was a senior in high school and sitting in the gardens of the Alhambra. I was resting alone in a gazebo made of bougainvillea, sketching the fountain in front of me and suddenly the sunlight struck the water drops in such a way they seemed like prisms, radiating color in the air. It took my breath away and I again felt that strange feeling of unreality, a sort of “pinch me, I must be dreaming” moment, except you would never want to pinch yourself out of such joy.

That is why I loved people’s suggestions that there be a memorial garden for Squinternet and why I am so thankful to Saiyge Lotus for building this beautiful place. It has that sort of peaceful but powerful beauty that can have a powerful emotional effect if we give ourselves up to the experience. Gardens have a sort of universality that speaks to us all. People around the world may design different styles of gardens from the restrained discipline of a zen garden to the exuberant lush abandon of an English country garden, but nearly everywhere, people will cultivate beauty in their landscape.



There is a tree, shown here, that those who loved Squint can take for free as a remembrance of her, planting it in their own gardens to mark her passing and remember her. It has little jewel lights in the leaves.



There’s a lovely walk through the trees behind the memorial wall. Walking through it I was reminded of Jonathan Edwards writing about his own ecstatic experience when walking through the woods and being struck by the sunshine through the trees and experiencing a transformative moment of profound joy and peace. He interpreted that through his religious framework because that was his worldview, but its source is again the awesome power of natural beauty.


You can see glimpses of the memorial garden through the trees, connecting the formal garden with the lush abandon that surrounds is.

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