Melinda Ransdell loves scripture and inviting others to engage the Bible through formative practices like Bible journaling. She and her husband use the practices at their church in the bulletin (what, doodle in the margins of the Sunday order of worship!? Yes!), with new members and in leadership development, as well as in confirmation class.
I am inspired to know that one ordinary day Melinda looked at her yard and the neighborhood and realized there was a wonderful ‘margin’ there. With her scriptural imagination, Melinda began to conceive a peace and prayer garden. I loved seeing her garden come to life with photos posted on Instagram and Facebook. I can just see her with coffee in hand, on her back deck, studying scripture, wondering what God might have her do in her ‘margins’ of life.
Here is the story, in Melinda’s own words, of how she in-scripted the margins of her back yard. Melinda explains,
“It’s all about finding peace in the chaos of this busy world we live in.
Very fitting, our garden is situated right off the busiest road in town. We don’t live in a big town but we are a main thorough fare for those heading West out of the capital Dover, DE.
Our town Wyoming, DE, is a very quaint little place. All along the main street are beautiful properties with some nice landscaping. When we moved in we had a blank slate so I started thinking about what we could do.
So, like every normal person, I looked on pinterest for inspiration.
My husband and I definitely wanted a sitting area because our front porch is too small for sitting and getting to know our neighbors.
That’s what we really wanted to do, get to know the town of Wyoming. A couple years ago we learned from our church district about a ministry called I-neighborhood. It is all about sharing the love of God with the people who live right next door and down the street or work at the local market. We’ve adopted such crazy and busy lifestyles in our society, that sometimes we forget to just take a second to look up and smile at the person ringing up our groceries. Let alone, take the time to intentionally form relationships with those who live right next to us. It’s all about being aware and looking for those opportunities to share God’s love with others. I want to do that by offering a place to sit. That’s how a restful, prayerful, meditative garden came to be. So I began to sketch:
I’ve seen lots of Prayer labyrinths before. My church in college had a traveling one visit and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington has a huge permanent outdoor one. A prayer labyrinth offers a place to slow down, walk, reflect, dwell with God and offer up prayers. Prayer Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years and can be found in some of the oldest Cathedrals. I wanted to offer people the opportunity to quiet their minds, take a rest from the craziness and experience some peace.
There is also a popular practice I first discovered whole visiting some of the amazing gardens of Charleston, SC, it’s called a Peace Pole. On it reads, “May peace prevail on Earth” in several languages. I love the idea of promoting peace of Earth, especially through a faith that should be all about it.
On pinterest I stumbled upon a couple pictures of community prayer boxes. I love this idea! Giving an opportunity to have someone else offer prayer up for you, too, is supportive and builds community.
Hopefully the town of Wyoming, DE will come and take a rest. Take a moment to still their minds. To see someone cares. And just maybe they’ll also feel the great love God has for them.”
Local metal artist Graydie designed this “At Peace” sculpture.
I have no doubt Melinda’s neighbors will definitely find peace the next time they find themselves on the edge!
When I took a glimpse at Melinda’s posts – the ‘resurrection’ story of her Garden’s margins became perfectly clear. She started with a Bible study in Lent – check out this photo of her garden tablescape…
…and look at what it transformed into after Easter:
How could she not share this good news in her garden?