Little Altars Everywhere: Miniature Prayer Gardens
In the novel Little Altars Everywhere, by Rebecca Wells, I was expecting to read about little altars everywhere – funnily enough. I did enjoy the book but, being an obsessed miniature gardener, I was still left wondering about the potential of the book’s title.
The prayer garden idea has been growing and developing in our studio since last fall, 2010. It was spurred on by our chosen theme for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show this past February. The “Eat, Pray, Love, Garden” included three miniature gardens that depicted the eat, the pray and the love themes respectively.
I was reminded of the mini sanctuaries again the other week, when the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks brought up a need for a peaceful place to go. Even though it wasn’t a place to go in body, it was a place for our heads to escape to, if only for a few minutes at a time.
So, here are some thoughts on the basics of creating your own little sanctuary, a place you can go to pray, meditate or just to listen. I imagine these can be applied to your “full-sized” gardens quite easily too.
Ideas for Miniature Prayer Gardens:
1. Surround yourself with plants. Think of literally sitting in the middle of the miniature garden, surrounded by foliage of all types. You may have to adjust the space a bit if you are planting in a small pot, and build the garden to one side or the other, but try to make it so the “seating area” is bordered by plants.
2. No clutter in the space, no “man-made” garden items. No yard art, garden tools, nary even a water can. Tools or equipment will remind you of chores and it is meant to be calm and tranquil. Mini yard art or sculpture outside of the subject will be a distraction.
3. Paths are good. A path leading to the seating area is very welcoming. A path going to the altar area or looping around a fountain can be soothing and meditative
4. Choose a focal point. Depending upon what kind of miniature prayer garden you will be creating, dedicate a spot for your spiritual figure or symbol. At the top of a miniature pond, in a stone grotto, or included in a prayer circle, are some specific examples to get you started on your design. Use a miniature tree or a dwarf shrub as a backdrop if your space is limited.
5. Include a spot to sit, or kneel, depending upon the type of garden you are creating and this is going to dictate the type of garden too, whether it is for mediation (sitting) or for prayer (kneeling.) The chair, bench, kneeler, prayer rug, or whatever you use in “real-life” will work and be comforting because you can envision yourself in the miniature garden quickly and easily.
If you do not follow a particular religion, you can still create a little place of peace for yourself. There are different ways to think about it: Meditation Garden, Miniature Grotto, Miniature Altar or Peace Garden.