walkLEX: Prayer Garden in the City

Prayer Garden (Central Christian Church) - Lexington, Ky.
The Prayer Garden at Central Christian Church - Lexington, Ky.
I immediately thought of the first verse and chorus of C. Austin Miles' 1912 hymn, I Come to the Garden Alone, when I walked into the prayer garden nestled outside Lexington's Central Christian Church:
I come to the garden alone / while the dew is still on the roses / And the voice I hear falling on my ear / The Son of God discloses / And He walks with me, and He talks with me / And He tells me I am His own / And the joy we share as we tarry there / None other has ever known.
The entire concept of a prayer garden -- a quiet, outside place designed entirely for reflection and contemplative thought -- is one of my favorite church design features. Of course, a well-designed park can also provide a reflective and contemplative place to tarry.

The prayer garden at Central Christian Church is narrow and long. Walking up the pavers toward a statue of Jesus - his arms outstretched - is welcoming. Two benches sit for those wanting to linger. Although plantings were at a minimum, the simplicity of the design felt complete. Visible from Short Street, the garden provide a place of "rest... in the midst of onrushing and noisy living."

Incomplete was the statue of Jesus. Whether the result of weather or vandalism, Jesus was missing an arm and on the other, a thumb. The statue, carved of carrara marble in Carrara, Italy, is a reproduction of The Christus which stands in the Church of our Lady of Copenhagen, Denmark. The sculptor of the Danish Christus was Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844); it depicts Jesus after the resurrection when he is calming his gathered disciples. "Peace be with you." As legend goes, a man was disappointed upon seeing the statue but was reassured by a newsboy who told him, "Mister, you really can't see his beauty unless you get down on your knees and look up into his face."

More pictures of Central Christian Church's Prayer Garden are available on flickr.