Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Smithers "Old Church" and the Meditation Gardens

Part Two of: Looking for the Soul of Smithers BC
I was foot weary, alone, and while a friendly face is always welcomed what I needed most was a moment to rest.  I slogged southward on King Street, as I had heard good things about a "Meditation Garden" at the "Old Church"; I was hoping for a place to put my feet up.  A day earlier, Evi, had told me that a group of volunteers would be planting annuals there, but, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia meetings I was attending kept me away. I don't mind a bit of gardening or lending a helping hand.

The "Old Church", formerly St. James Anglican Church had been built in 1913 the same year the Grand Pacific Trunk Railway rolled through the newly established Town of Smithers.

The Anglican congregation eventually outgrew the Old Church and vacated to a new location in 1975.  The simple little church, left to the town, fell into a deep silence and a state of disrepair.

The salvation of the "Old Church" was one of those projects that the local Smithereens, (love that name), obviously take a great deal of pride in; as by this time in my travels, several locals had directed me there for a "look-see".   On the throes of being torn down, an Australian, of all people, (I wish I had his name, as all great initiatives require leadership) urged the Town to preserve one of Smithers oldest remaining buildings as a place for use by the Arts and for non-profits.

In 2004, the building was restored and today serves as a community assembly and concert hall holding up to 90 souls at a time.

[While most small communities provide tremendous tax supported assets to "sports" (massive fields, ice arenas, swimming pools, lights, washrooms etc.) too few resources are usually given to the "arts" it is nice to see that Smithers and its' Smithereens are behind both.]

Old Church, Smithers BC
The "Old Church" is situated on a standard sized lot, one block east of Main Street at the corner of King Street and First Ave. Unfortunately by the time I arrived the building, run by the Bulkley Valley Museum, was closed, fortunately, the non-denominational meditation garden was still open.

Meditation Garden, Old Church, Smithers BC
They're great and worth a visit.  Along the east side of the "Old Church" is a brick walkway, a transition zone of a sorts where you can begin to shrug off your worldly concerns.  Gates confront you at a covered entry.  You must decide to enter.  Mazes were once used by monks for meditation purposes but here the space is restricted and so a circular pathway must suffice.  Flanked by two lengthy wood benches it is a place for quiet thoughts and simple appreciation.  The goal of such spots is to still your thoughts for a moment, forget the past, to stop thinking about the future and simply to be mindful of the present.  The beauty of this place helped to set my mind at rest, and yes, my feet were happy too...

Happy feet

Forget days past, heart broken, put all memory by!
No grief on the hill-side, no pity in the sky,
Joy that may not be spoken fills mead and flower and tree.

~William Morris (1834-96) from Fair Weather and Foul

Stephen Mullock RI
is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

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