Behind these walls; stories from the Network

I recently visited Andrea Fitz, a program coordinator in the Department of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy and co-Firesoul of the The Healing Garden and Labyrinth at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. This site unites the health care and spiritual care professions to provide patients, staff and the community with a message of hope and healing, while offering an opportunity for relaxation and peace. Andrea and I chatted about the unique qualities of the garden: despite the road immediately outside it, Andrea observed, none of the noise seems to filter past the hedges. The labyrinth remains serene amidst any bustle. 

Firesouls typically utilize this site for outreach and programmatic events, including an annual Light the Labyrinth event and Cultural Diversity Celebrations. Andrea has expressed her love for this event often when we’ve spoken, noting its ability to engage the community — a key element of the hospital’s work, and part of what makes the labyrinth so special. During the pandemic, this site has been utilized as an outdoor waiting room for family and loved ones of Covid-19 patients.

Through a Nature Sacred Firesoul Network Enhancement Grant, Hopkins will be expanding their Sacred Place to include a staff memorial garden. Every year (save 2020), they hold a memorial service to celebrate specifically staff who have passed away in the last year but more generally those who have served or are serving at the hospital.

In 2019, they planted 3 maple trees in a triangle: one to symbolize those who have served, one to symbolize present staff and those recently passed away, and one for future growth and branches. Now, they are filling around those trees with a stone patio and plantings to enhance this garden. Nature Sacred is working with Paula Teague, Director of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy at the hospital, Andrea, and their team to engage a Nature Sacred Design Advisor in providing more design features and a Nature Sacred bench for this site.

— Neha Srinivasan, Sacred Place Project Manager