"Sacred places are those that have a power subtle though it may be to inspire fruitful introspection, to promote emotional and even physical well-being, or simply to provide a respite from the rigors of daily life," writes G. Martin Moeller, Jr., Senior Vice President and Curator, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. Tom and Kitty Stoner stepped into a London park in the 1990s and found an oasis filled with beauty and peace in the midst of the city. They established the TKF Foundation with the mission "to provide the opportunity for a deeper experience by supporting the creation of public greenspaces that offer a temporary place of sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace, and engender peace." Over 110 spaces have been created in the past 12 years.
This beautiful and inspiring paperback contains photographs and essays on 12 of these sacred places with commentaries by those who created or initiated them. In addition, there are entries from people of all walks of life who have experienced these places and shared them in the waterproof journal provided at each open space; they testify to the ability of nature to heal and to unify. Here are some of the sacred places covered in the book:
• Amazing Port Street Sacred Commons
• Mount Washington Arboretum
• Garden of Peace and Remembrance
• Whitman-Walker Healing Garden
• Meditation Garden at the Western Correctional Institution
• Healing Therapeutic Garden at Kernan Hospital
• Kids on the Hill Sculpture Garden
• Garden of Little Angels
• Garden at Cedar Hill
• Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership: 7000 Oaks
• Thanksgiving Place
Reading the descriptions of the construction and seeing pictures of the Meditation Garden at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, we thought that it would be good if every prison had such a place. The warden wanted the prisoners under his supervision, many of whom would be released eventually, to heal and learn before they got out. The meditation garden "is the one location where the inmates are free to let down their guard and take in nature, the one spot where they can feel safe long enough to consider letting go of the past, so that they can feel a sense of self-worth and dignity."
Other sacred spaces provide a place for people to grieve, to be nurtured by nature while recuperating from an illness, to feel part of a larger community, to express gratitude, and to remember.