Several times on my pilgrimages I have come across gardens affiliated to the Quiet Garden Movement, notably at St John’s Church at Ulverston in Cumbria and also at the small parish church in Holcombe near Dawlish in Devon. Both these places were an absolute delight to discover, with their restful planting schemes and somewhere peaceful to sit in the sun.
Being unable to set out on this year’s pilgrimage because of the ‘lockdown’ and so making more use of my own garden, I’m sure that I can’t be the only person who was rather shocked by a recent report in the UK media that ‘one in eight households in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden’.
In these challenging times when we have all faced considerable restrictions, how difficult it must be for people living in such circumstances and I’m sure that many of us all now want to see greater and perhaps more imaginative provision of open spaces and gardens for all. Whether it’s being able to grow vegetables, kick a football around or just sit in the sun we all need the restorative benefits of a garden.
But gardens take us to a place beyond our immediate human needs for exercise and recreation; as Charles Wesley noted, they are places where we can meet God, allowing him to touch our hearts melted as they are by ‘ the divine goodness’.
I’m sure Wesley would have very much approved of the Quiet Garden Movement with its aim of creating ‘opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices’. In the peacefulness of a garden and in the observation of the created world as it plays out its cycle through the seasons we can allow God, who is the source of all goodness, to touch and ‘melt’ us again.
Find out more about the Quiet Garden Movement at https://quietgarden.org/