Easter may be past, but Christians are reminded that Jesus appeared again and again to his disciples after, it is said, he rose from the dead. Then on the 40th day, he ascended into heaven with the promise to send forth the Holy Ghost, who arrived on the 50th day, or Pentecost, ushering in the start of a faith movement that would bear his name.
With “resurrection” as its namesake, the Church of the Resurrection Catholic Parish in Tempe has created the 14 Stations of the Resurrection, a meditation garden in a space west of its worship center. A winding gravel path features 14 crosses placed beside boulders. Each cross contains a tile painted by a Wisconsin artist and featuring a scene from the days after Christ’s death on the cross.
Among them are “Jesus reveals himself in the breaking of the bread,” “Jesus walks with the disciples to Emmaus,” “Jesus appears to his disciples on the shore of Lake Galilee” and “Mary and the disciples await the Holy Spirit.” The meditation garden contains a wide selection of trees and shrubs timed to be in their flowering glory around Easter each year, said the parish pastor, the Rev. Joe McGaffin.
“It is a unique type of meditation space for the parish that is called Resurrection Catholic,” he said.
Parishioner Peggy Booth envisioned the garden and worked with previous pastors, the Revs. Fred Adamson and Steven Kunkel, to develop a plan.
With an architectural design and a dirt mover, the garden was developed last year and dedicated on Sept. 2 by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. It is the first Stations of the Resurrection in the diocese.
The Resurrection stations can be followed with a 16-page devotional booklet, with leader readings and participant responses. They also include biblical narratives corresponding to each station.
“Following the Crucifixion, the early disciples needed time to grieve, to heal, to reconcile and to experience the risen Christ,” said Sister Anne Marie Smith, pastoral associate of the parish. “Our garden was designed as a similar place of prayer, healing and reconciliation as people walk the stations and pray and reflect.”
The garden was designed to give privacy at each station. There are also such subtleties as plants that are all white at Station 1 (Jesus rises from the dead).
“You will have garden that welcomes prayer and meditation,” Booth said in her plan. “You will be able to more visibly celebrate the Resurrection.” A focal point is a tall steel cross on a mound in the middle of the garden. The annual vigil on the evening before Easter began in that space this year, and a fire was lit at the foot of the cross.
Stations of the Resurrection “have been around, but they are not very well-known,” Mc-Gaffin said.
McGaffin hopes diocesan school students will visit the garden for prayer and “to learn about the different events in Jesus’ life after the resurrection.”
Benches and a fountain are also planned for the garden. “We also hope to put the stations on tape for people to be able to listen to as they walk around the garden,” Smith said.
Anyone, including church groups, are encouraged to visit the church office for booklets and then walk the garden trail “and experience this unique prayer,” she said.