Living Sculpture Garden and Labyrinth
Nestled in the mountains just beyond the southern border of Oregon is a sculpture garden dedicated to honoring soldiers of all wars. It is a place for reflection, remembrance, and healing, according to the website http://www.weedlmsg.org/. My traveling partner was hard at work, so I wandered the garden with only my thoughts and the constant hum of insects as company.
The solitude of the high desert was uplifting, yet somber at the same time. I spent some time reading the names of soldiers on the wall, saying them out loud to the birds and the insects listening in the background. I wondered about their lives and their wives and the children left behind. I wondered what they thought about in their final days and minutes.
The back side of the wall had one partially filled panel of names, leaving room for many more.
Thank you for your service.
A labyrinth is often used as a tool for deep meditation. The idea is that you follow a prescribed path which typically spirals in toward a center. The spiral path is a physical representation of your mind's eye turning inward. The labyrinth experience can be quite powerful. This labyrinth was small and, despite the sign, would be easily mistaken for a round brick patio in the eyes of someone not familiar with the concept.
I walked the labyrinth, taking short steps and focusing my thoughts on simply being in the present. Too often, I forget to appreciate the current moment in anticipation of things to come. The stillness of the hot mountain air reminded me to find my quiet center as my foot took me closer toward the labyrinth's center.
The Sculpture Garden
These tall trees stand like sentinels guarding the path leading to the sculpture garden. I thanked them for their service as well, and walked down the path. The sun beat hot on my head. The sky stretched out for what felt like days, making my body want to stretch with it to fill the space.
The Greatest Generation
In tribute to the veterans of World War II. The sculpture is based on the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima; however, I see the firemen struggling in the wake of the World Trade Center attack.
Those Left Behind
This woman stands as a poignant reminder that the men and women who choose to serve are not the only ones affected by the service. She cradles a flag in her hands, and a passerby has gifted her with a rosary.
The Why Group
The website describes this statue:
In the center of the chaos of war, a figure rushs to catch a falling comrade, while high above, another figure pleas to the heavens.
I see the chaos of war, but more than anything I see the camaraderie of people living, fighting and dying together. This sculpture makes me feel the bond between soldiers, yet it also makes me feel very much othered. I know, as I stand here, that I am not one of them.
The joy of this reunion is palpable here in the high mountain air. The giant metal sculpture seems to dance and move, swept up in this moment of homecoming. I dance with them.
All Wounded Warriors
At first glance, this seemed to be similar in tone to the previous sculpture reaching for the sky. However, as I approached I noticed the missing hand. I am reminded that our wounded warriors are among us, whether we see their damage or not.
The Flute Player
The Flute Player reminds me of the labyrinth. He is full of mystery and intrigue, but most of all he brings peace and joy. Around him are three figures dancing to the music. According to the website, when the wind is just right, the Flute Player can actually be heard singing in the breeze. I wonder if the statues at his feet dance when no one is watching.
Korean War Memorial
If you have only time for one sculpture in the garden, see this one. The despair, the sadness, the nothing is overwhelming near this statue. I believe that emotions linger in places and this is certainly one of them.
While there are other sculptures, memorials, and plenty of beautiful backdrops, I'd like to leave something to see with new eyes if you ever choose to visit. Thank you for taking the time to wander the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden with me. And to all of the soldiers and those who lost someone in service to our country, thank you for your sacrifice.