About Our Mary Garden
A glacial past
Mary Gardens, inspired by the Book of Genesis, developed in 14th century Europe when, during the “Black Death,” people believed as millions died that the earth was cursed. A Mary Garden, built next to religious houses, was a reminder the earth was blessed by God, not cursed.
As the earth is threatened today, the Mary Garden again offers wisdom and hope.
Our ancestors looked at creation and the world they lived with human eyes as well as eyes of faith. They knew how crucial water was for life, how interconnected humans beings, plants and animals were. We need those lessons today; they’re taught in the garden.
Mary presides in our garden, representative of redeemed humanity, holding in her arms Christ, the Redeemer, the One “through whom all things were made,” who blesses the world with hope. As witness to his resurrection, Mary presents the promise of a new heaven and earth.
In our garden, Mary’s statue stands on the stump of a large cedar tree, with roots reaching deep into the earth. At the base of the stump are rocks from parts of our continent carried and deposited here by an ancient glacier, and rocks brought from other parts of the world.
Our garden stands on a high point of a spine of volcanic rock that goes back perhaps 400 million years, when the continent was first formed. About 22,000 years ago the last glacier, the height of a skyscraper, came down from the north and stopped here.
Our monastery stands where the glacier stopped. As it receded and melted, the glacier gave us the land we stand on now. Southeast of us, the glacier formed clay flatlands and sandy beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. The winding depressions in our area, like Midland Parkway, are the remains of glacier streams that brought sand, clay and rocks forming the flatlands beyond.
To the North of us, the last glacier left the waters that became Long Island Sound. The glaciers also left water in the aquifer that still provides drinking water for most of Long Island today.
In the center of our garden is a fountain of water. In the Genesis story water welling up from the earth brings a garden to life: plants, animals, finally human beings. There’s no life without water. From the Genesis garden, four mighty rivers bring life-giving water to other parts of the earth. (Genesis 2)
We still live and build our homes and cities near water. Our ancestors did that before us and recognized what a gift it is. In the stories they told about the world’s beginnings, water brings life.
The plants and flowers in our Mary Garden bring the various colors and shapes of the world’s plant life here.
We’re nourished, healed and inspired by the world of plants. “Immigrants” of the plant world, flowers come from everywhere and are welcomed everywhere. Many of them, like the marigold, “Mary’s Gold”, are associated with the Mother of Jesus.
Our Mary Garden stands next to a grotto recalling Mary’s appearance at Lourdes in the 19th century when faith in France and elsewhere was eroding in an age of skepticism. Mary’s appearances there and later at Fatima show her to be a witness God sends when times are bad.