Please feel welcome to contact me if you wish to help create our Sunday services, study groups or workshops in the future.
This Sunday, October 6, 2013 Church of the Garden moves to it’s new home at Rainbow Community School in West Asheville
Our new location at Rainbow Community School** sets our Sunday services in the midst of a thriving community of families and neighbors that creates the potential for everyone involved to experience deep and lasting connection to each other, the Earth community and Infinite Divine.
As intention is the seed of every co-creative journey so the destiny of this spiritual community will be shaped our intention. Our actions, the Sunday services we create, the other opportunities for spiritual growth and connection that we initiate — all of this will be organized by the same force that generates all of the activities of the Universe.
This Sunday we’ll explore the power of Intention as we consider our intentions for this spiritual community. Do join us. You are most welcome here.
From my heart,
Rev. Michelle K. Smith
**Rainbow Community School is at 574 Haywood Rd. in West Asheville. Services begin at 10:45 am. If you find that you’re a bit late please park on the street and walk in as we might be in meditation. Thank you.
When Michelle started the Church of the Garden in June, I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but knew that I resonated with her heartfelt description on the website about what prompted her to start this church and what her vision was, including wanting a service that was “uplifting but restorative”; a service that “explored the symmetries between Ancient Wisdom and New Thought” and also “honors the land, water, air and all species as sacred, and grounds us in a sense of place here in the Blue Ridge.”
As an Interfaith Minister and Celebrant Leader (along with Michelle), I knew I wanted to be part of this vision and was honored that Michelle asked myself and others to contribute as much as we felt called to.
When I’ve attended the church this summer, I’ve felt a sacredness and the presence of spirit in this community gathering, which is non-denominational and all-inclusive. The beautiful and peaceful garden setting at OM Sanctuary where we gather is unique in that we’re outside, where it feels like nature and creation is quietly holding us.
The gift of music performed by Lydiyah Sea, Bobby Miller and others is grounding, connecting and inspiring. The blend of traditions and wisdom includes the Call of Directions, meditation, Scripture verses and teachings from Rumi, Hafiz, and Jesus along with Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and other modern day spiritual teachers.
The universal themes we cover each week, such as Play, Passion, Will, Flow, Warrior, Joy and Courage are pertinent to all of us, and the teachings of each can help us align more fully with Spirit in a practical way in our daily lives. I appreciate the passion and wisdom Michelle and Jeanie hold for nature, illuminating specific aspects relevant to each week’s theme, including fireflies, otters, and the French Broad River.
If you haven’t yet attended the Asheville Church of the Garden, come check us out. I think you will leave feeling renewed and inspired.
Download the flyer for Asheville Church of the Garden here or click on the image.
Play is a spiritual quality that expresses our creativity and celebrates the pleasures of being alive. Brene Brown identified play as “a critically important quality of whole-hearted living”. Did you know there is a National Institute of Play?
This Sunday at Church of the Garden we consider Play as a restorative, spiritual practice.
Alex Morten, certified leader of InterPlay, will bring a taste of this joyful, simple, creative way to experience more ease and lightness in your body.
I’m also thrilled that Lydiyah and Bobby Miller will be bringing gifts of song!
Barbara Brady will bring the Message and I’ll join in with an opening piece celebrating Otters!
Sunday services begin at 11:00 am and you’re welcome to come as early as 10:00am to enjoy silence in the garden or along the Tranquility Trail.
We look forward to being with you.
From my heart,
With the 4th of July holiday explored meaning in the spiritual idea that all forms of life are a Spark of the Divine and Anne Lamott’s “third great prayer” — Wow.
Listen to this podcast recording of the Wisdom Message if you’d like a taste of our Sunday services.
And there’s a short video from our very first service here.
During our Celebrating Creation segment, Jeanie Martin shared this warm celebration of our favorite herald of summer. Enjoy!
As a child growing up in the south, summer always started for me when I would see the first lightening bug. They always seemed to show up about the time that school let out for summer vacation and we could play outside until dark. My Mama and Daddy would sit on the porch and my sister and I would run around the yard barefoot chasing lightening bugs and catching them in mason jars that had grass in the bottom and holes punched in their lids. We would try to catch as many as we could before Mama said we had to go in and get ready for bed.
After our baths we would lie in the bed we shared, our bug jars on the dresser. We would drift off to sleep watching these magical beetles blinking their greenish yellow lights to each other. After we would fall asleep, Mama would tiptoe in, take the jars out back and release our captives in the tall grass near the tobacco barn. Sometimes I imagine what that looked like. My tall Mama standing in the moonlight with lightening bugs flashing their thank yous around her and heading up into the tall grass and trees.
As children we didn’t know that flying insects showed up here on Earth 328 million years before humans did or that there are over 2,000 species of lightening bugs living on every continent except Antarctica. We didn’t know that it was a special biochemical reaction that caused the lower abdomens of the lightening bugs to glow with bioluminescense, or that they lit up mainly to attract a mate. We didn’t know that sometimes female lightening bugs would give a glow like the female of a different species only to lure in a male of that tribe and then eat him. We only knew that they lived in the tall, damp grass in the summertime and that they had a special spark. A spark that made us whoop with joy when we caught one in our jar.
As an adult when I see the first lightening bugs of the summer I rejoice that they have returned and feel a bit sad that their numbers are not what they used to be. Pesticides, development that drains the wet, wooded places they need for laying their eggs and their larvae to grow, deforestation and light pollution have all affected their populations. It difficult for researchers to say how much their numbers have fallen off as it is hard to count them. The beetles are too small to tag, the females spend most of their life on the ground, and adults only live one to three weeks. But in some places we do know they have disappeared all together.
Perhaps what will save the lightening bugs is for us all to feel the magic we felt as children when we watched them start their light show at dusk. There numbers just might return when we understand that their spark comes from the same source that gives each of us our own special spark and that makes us relations. Anything that diminishes the lightening bugs will also diminish us. It is the Divine Spark that connects us all. So I invite you to be like a lightening bug this week and let your light shine.
A group of about 20 joined us for our first service. Here are a few moments from this lovely gathering.
Thank you Angela Niles and Bobby Miller for bringing your gifts of music. Thank you Barbara Brady for leading us in meditation. You’ll get a glimpse of the community mandala that was begun by Martha Krieger on the Thursday before this service. Martha led us in the dissolving of the mandala before our walking meditation. We sang a bit, prayed a bit and connected to the Eternal Divine together.
Join us every Sunday this summer until September 22, 2013 at OM Sanctuary for Church of the Garden. If you’d like to participate in creating a Sunday Service or have any other inquiries contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, listening for your own heart’s yearning.
Rev. Michelle K. Smith is the Coordinating Minister for Asheville Church of the Garden. Through her practice, Asheville Celebrant, she offers personal ceremonies for life’s Big Moments at ashevillecelebrant.com
I wanted a service that was uplifting but restorative — rather quiet though not heavy or humorless.
I wanted a service that explored the symmetries between Ancient Wisdom and New Thought because uncovering such symmetries truly delights my spirit and my mind.
I wanted a service on Sundays that unapologetically draws meaning from the natural world, honors the land, water, air and all species as sacred, and grounds us in a sense of place here in the Blue Ridge.
And I wanted as service to flourish in a community of people who live their spiritual values in practical and loving actions as service.
That friend and another woman met with me through last fall as the days grew cooler and shorter to help me develop this idea. We named it the Church of the Garden.
Our focus will be the dissolution of the community sand mandala that will be created on Thursday, June 20 at Part I of OM Sanctuary’s Solstice Celebration followed by a Walking Meditation.
Sunday Service begins at 11 am. You are invited to come as early as 10 am and walk the Tranquility Trail in silence. We’ll be called service with drums, flute, chant or some other sacred sound.
I’m pretty much beside myself with gratitude and delight at the prospect of this experience. Do join us!