St. Mary’s Church: Something Beautiful for God

Whether we find ourselves in a pristine forest, a small town or a big city, Jesus invites us to “Come away with Me to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31) In the following three articles, we visit three very different “sacred places”, rich in aesthetic experiences. Come enjoy the treasure of God’s presence…

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.

St. Mary's Church, Cochrane

St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane

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).

The Rosary Path, St. Mary's Sacred Garden

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.

Mike Simpson, left, visionary behind the Sacred Garden; and Glen Lott, sculptor of the metal fountainhead

Mike Simpson, left, visionary behind the Sacred Garden; and Glen Lott, sculptor of the metal fountainhead

Bell and plaque

Bell and plaque

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.”

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 Sacred Garden

St. Mary’s Sacred Garden

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Warren Harbeck

About Warren Harbeck

Warren Harbeck is a religious studies scholar, linguist and writer/photographer. He publishes a weekly slice-of-life newspaper column, “Coffee with Warren,” in the Cochrane Eagle. He and his wife, Mary Anna, are members of St. Mary’s Parish in Cochrane, Alberta. Photo by Judith M. Sikorski
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