It is a garden for individual introspection and a sanctuary accessible to all. It is an edifying place, inspired by the flora of the local environment. If possible it will include a fountain of contemplation into which stones representing anger, fear, grief or bitterness may be cast.
Comfortable seating is suitably prepared for both sun and shade. A place of inspiration, the Garden of Forgiveness nurtures sentiments of peace, joy, hope, and healing.
Nelson Mandela once said that not to forgive is “like drinking a glass of poison and waiting for your enemies to die.” There is too much of this poison readily available and eagerly consumed in our society today. Forgiveness is vital to life: the person who is willing to forgive demonstrates less anxiety and stress, better cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and a renewed energy inspired by hope and optimism.
The Garden of Forgiveness in the local community will be a place where this spiritual, mental, and physical health will be empowered. The path to forgiveness is an internal journey.
It can be one of the hardest things to do and cannot be imposed. It must be undertaken by the individual. Each and every person has his or her unique relationship with their memories and ancestry. Hoarding bitter sentiments leads to the destruction of the individual and society. ©Lyndon Harris – for more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 310-710-4322.
The Design Of The Garden
- Offer a place of peace and beauty in which people can reflect on the bonds of our shared humanity. As John Donne put it so well, “no man is an island.”
- Include green space, and possibly a fountain with flowing water.
- Provide comfortable seating, both shaded and un-shaded.
- Include quotations on forgiveness from the major religions and the great philosophers, inspiring reflection on forgiveness and healing.
- Provide faith-based and community organizations public space for community rituals and programming related to forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Reflect a sense of connectedness and common purpose shared with other Gardens of Forgiveness around the world.
- Encourage the planting of flora indigenous to the area, as well as the possible use of specialty trees emphasizing peace and forgiveness, such as olive trees. The garden could include sunflowers, in tribute to Simon Weisenthal’s The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness; oleander, the first plant to grow in the devastated areas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after World War Two; and New Zealand’s piripiri plant, also known as “the forgiveness plant,” which symbolizes the barbs of anger that need to be purged through the process of forgiveness.
Consultation with local gardeners and landscape architects is encouraged. Other possibilities for a Garden of Forgiveness include the creation of a labyrinth or walking trail to symbolize the journey of forgiveness; or, if in an urban context where space is limited, a forgiveness mural on a building or in a park.
Possible Signage: Some Quotations on Forgiveness
“Not to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemies to die.”
“There is no future without forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.”
“Every act of revenge is a time-bomb thrown into the future, one which reverberates through history, unless dealt with through modern psychological and effective methods of re-conciliation and peace building.”
“Whoever opts for revenge should dig two graves.”
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“People ask me what advice I have for a married couple struggling in their relationship. I always answer: pray and forgive. And to young people from violent homes, I say: pray and forgive. And again, even to the single mother with no family support: pray and forgive.”
“It is freeing to become aware that we do not have to be victims of our past and can learn new ways of responding. But there is a step beyond this recognition… It is the step of forgiveness. Forgiveness is love practiced among people who love poorly. It sets us free without wanting anything in return.”
“Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to a single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer’s apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell.”
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”