Look at my flowers.
There’s rosemary, that’s for remembering.
Please remember, love.
~ Ophelia in Hamlet
My fella and I started our courtship on July 3rd and ever since then we have adopted the Independence Day holiday to signify our own freedom from past complicated relationships as well as the fireworks that we feel for one another. This isn’t going to be *that* kind of post but I feel the need to set it up before I scare the little goth children with all the non-black attire that I sport in these pictures.
Once a year I prepare the most elaborate outfit (an All-American costume perhaps) and my fella and I go celebrate. For the past several years we’ve been going to Williamsburg, VA (Colonial Williamsburg to be precise). We stay at one of the lodges and eat at the taverns. We love that we can park the car and walk everywhere!
This year my focus was really going to learn about the Bruton Parish Churchyard. I’ve been there several times but only in the last few years have I really been interested in learning about the individuals in the graves. Prior to that, I mostly just enjoyed the aesthetic as a whole. After starting my journey in learning about the symbolism and types of memorials, I’m also finding myself interested in the people.
I’m actually going to write about Bruton Parish Churchyard in a future post because it warrants its own post; I want to be respectful to the church since it’s still an active congregation (e.g. a post sans my silly Independence Day pictures); and, I’m going in chronological order.
I’m often unsure where I would be without my fella (literally). He has an eye for detail (especially when it comes to places and objects that he believes that I would enjoy) and is able to reign me in a bit. As I was marching toward the churchyard, I nearly missed the garden outside of the Bruton Parish shop. Down the street from the church and churchyard sits The Bruton Parish Shop. On their missionary website, it reads “Its purpose is to extend the mission and ministry of the Church through the sale of religious and other meaningful items that express God's work in our world. Proceeds from the sales go to the Outreach Ministry.” I need to note right here that I purchased several non-religious items from the shop including a teapot wind chime made from a local artist and even some rosemary for my fella and me to plant since rosemary is for remembrance. I point this out just in case you’re in the area and mistake their signage to assume overly religious items.
In the bookshop there is also the St. Mary's Chapel. If you exited the door, you would walk right out into a small garden area between the shop and the churchyard. But now I am not going in chronological order because rewind-on-back-to the two of us walking down the street toward the churchyard.
Fortunately, my fella was there, noticed the wee garden area, and called out, “I think you’ll want to see this.” I certainly did.
This church has numerous ministries including The End of Life Ministry. While I hate to admit that I’ve always found church ministries to be a pushy way to preach to others (e.g. those who stand near the train station and try to hand me literature at 6am in the morning; or, even those who knock on doors), I found the way this church approaches its ministries to be quite beautiful. In the case of the garden, not only did it convince me to stop and reflect upon the church’s mission but it also made me appreciate the plants and their connections to the Bible. This is considered a biblical garden. There is a statue for St. Fiacre who is the patron saint of those who grow vegetables and medicinal plants, and of gardening in general. Beside the statue is a bench that is used as a memorial.
The memorial reads that this is for Donald Parker with the inscription “Gardens he lovingly tended”. This led me to a bit of research. I learned that Mr. Parker was a retired landscape architect for Colonial Williamsburg. Parker constructed the framework of the flower beds and laid the brick walkways. He even added marl (the crushed shells seen throughout Colonial Williamsburg) for a path.
This garden was a beautiful tribute to the church but it was very much a memorial garden just like any cemetery. It also wasn’t the only one in Williamsburg that we saw. On our way to find a cemetery connected to William & Mary (which it turns out that we didn’t reach), we stumbled upon the memorial garden outside of a sorority house. I must say that if my understanding of sororities including such gardens along with a garden club I might have considered them back in college. But that too is for another post.