Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Giving Glory To God Through Gardening

The first time I met Gloria and Neil Nelson was back in 2006. They were shopping for religious items at Notre Dame Bookshop, Atlanta, before closing its doors for good. Since that time I’ve seen the couple at various events around the Archdiocese of Atlanta such as the Catholic Charities Gala and the Eucharistic Congress.

Earlier this spring I heard from the Nelsons. They were telling me about their garden. Gloria described it as their sanctuary, their heaven here on earth. They even shared some photos with me, which really perked my interest. Last week I finally got by their Roswell home, and it was breathtaking to see it in person. They started the garden back in 1987, but over the last 20 years they’ve added statues of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and saints, crosses, angels, scripture readings, etc.

In one part of the Nelson garden among the flowers and shrubs are (foreground, l-r) a statue of St. Francis, an angel, and a statue of the Pieta. In the background is another statue of St. Francis, some crosses and a sign that says, "Bless This Garden."                           

Among the flower window box of geraniums is a church and an angel.

It all started after they became members of St. Peter Chanel Church. Gloria began attending morning Mass, former pastor Father Frank McNamee (now Msgr. McNamee) served as a source of inspiration and they grew stronger in their faith. Over time the garden flourished with a number of lovely, carefully placed religious articles. Some came from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, while others came from local nurseries and stores. 

A statue of Mary (Our Lady of Grace) is displayed among the peony, zinnia, and other flowers and bushes. 

“We began gardening with our first house in Sandy Springs. We have continued to enjoy the serenity and meditative atmosphere of our tranquil gardens since then,” said Gloria.

A Celtic cross sits in the center of a bed of Shasta daisies. On the top of the wall surrounding the bed is a statue of the Nativity. The circular stones surrounding the wall are Stations of the Cross, made by the late Cistercian monk Father Bob Pearson.   

It got me to thinking how many others may be out there who see their garden as a sanctuary, a place for quiet reflection and an environment that invites God’s creatures like birds, butterflies, and yes, even rabbits.

If you have such a place at your home, feel free to email (malexander@georgiabulletin.orgme some photos of your garden. I’ll put them in a photo gallery, along with some additional photos of the Nelson garden, so others can enjoy them.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

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