Fort Payne Main Street in Alabama may seem small, but 10,000 people go through town each day via Interstate 59 on their way to Birmingham, Chattanooga or points in between. Many of them stop by the Life’s Journey Reflection and Meditation Garden — one of 18 Sacred Places spread across northeast Alabama — made possible by the Susie P. Stringfellow Health Fund, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama.
Connie Fuller, Director of Fort Payne Main Street, learned about Nature Sacred and Sacred Places through the Community Foundation who gave her a copy of Open Spaces Sacred Places: Stories of How Nature Heals and Unifies. When she read the book, she thought, “We must do this garden.” Spoken like a true Firesoul.
A retired teacher, she has taught everything from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Pre-K to first grade is her heart. She recently put these skills to use to handle a local kid who was regularly damaging the fountain. “Kids will be kids, especially when they don’t have enough to do,” she said. Needless to say, they had a chat, and the problem was resolved.
Life’s Journey: a community concept
This Sacred Place’s design follows life’s journey — the outcome of a conversation between community members and Design Advisor David Isbell.
Here, visitors are able to walk through three circular paths representing the three stages of life: birth, life’s journey, and rebirth. A bench at each intersection of the Life Garden is providing a place of reflection marking the change between each stage.
In addition to the fountain, Life’s Journey features a book box, a Little Free Library constructed from remnant bench wood and provided by Nature Sacred. Connie said, “Our Book Box is also a huge hit. Folks are so generous to keep it filled. I can tell that the books are being taken and others are being put in the box. It has all been organic.” When she has extra books to contribute to the box, there’s often no space to squeeze in extra books.
Reading is up during the pandemic and in Northern Alabama so are the number of thunderstorms and tornadoes. Connie noted, “We have had a lot of rain this year but whenever folks could get out to the park they have been enjoying our garden. Nature is healing.”
A look inside
As a member of the Firesoul Network, Connie has shared with us recent photos and journal entries from her Sacred Place (see below). She has also attended several Firesoul sharing sessions and workshops and looks forward to participating in more!
Learn more about the story behind Life’s Journey in this short video.