Editorial: I was helping a long-time family friend reorganize her garden the other day and in front of a newly planted tree she created a small memorial to her daughter, Jenna, who was killed in a biking accident 18 months ago. As I watched her arrange plants with yellow flowers—one of Jenna’s favourite colours—around a Buddha, I was reminded of the small houses for the spirits that are found everywhere in Thailand. They take good care of their spirits in Thailand.
Asians in general seem to place great importance in spiritual experiences. For those of us not associated with organized religion, however, it can be difficult to find a suitable spiritual destination. Jenna’s mother is working to change that.
Jenna was a yoga instructor, wife and mother. She was also a very spiritual person. Once, when travelling in South Korea, she came upon one of their many ‘barefoot parks’ where people walk on rounded stones in natural environments to relieve stress and pain. Certainly, walking barefoot in a holy place is customary in many religions. Jenna thought such a walk was a great idea and had thoughts of building one in Canada. Instead her mother and others are raising funds to build Canada’s first reflexology footpath in a Toronto park in her name.
I told Jenna’s mother about the reflexology labyrinth I had visited with my daughter Jessica at the Coastal Maine Botanical gardens last year. It’s in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses—a one-acre section that is all about touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing. There are ponds with frogs, raised beds, stones chiseled to make sound, a meditative garden. There are even fairy houses that children build, much like those spirit houses in Thailand. And there are sitting areas where visitors can pause and listen. I hope that’s how Jenna’s barefoot path in that Toronto park evolves, if only they can raise the funds that are needed .
Jenna’s mother told her grief counselor about the Maine garden and he said that maybe he could organize a trip there with some of his clients. Jenna’s mother said that if he did that she would like to go too.
It would be a spiritual journey for Jenna.
An update on Jenna’s barefoot path in the Toronto Star
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses 2013