The spiritual features of the Shepherd’s Garden were designed to tell the story of the Bible from the Christian perspective. As you enter from the corner of 6th and Jackson Street, you can stand at the rail and have an elevated view of the Shepherd’s Garden.
As you start on the walkway, the first feature in the garden is the 23rd Psalm. It is one of the most beloved passages of the bible. It begins with ”The Lord is my Shepherd”. It is from this Bible passage that the Shepherd’s Garden name is derived. It describes our God who is steadfast and will protect you in troubled times. It is a verse to give strength and solace to those under trial. The King James Version used here at Shepherd’s Garden is the most commonly quoted version and has endured centuries. The 4000 pound stone on which the 23rd Psalm is engraved is South Dakota Sioux (Pink) Quartzite.
Next, you reach the first of the 22 verses placed along the walkway. They begin with a verse from Genesis and end with a verse from Revelation. It was a difficult task for the committee charged with deciding on which Bible verses to choose the ones for the Garden. Hundreds of bible verses were considered before we committed to the verses you see on the sidewalk and in the stones. We wanted verses that would be enduring and that would tell important aspects of Christian beliefs and philosophy.
In addition to the 23rd Psalm and the Bible verses, other features of the Garden are The Beatitudes, The Ten Commandments, The Crosses, and The Lord’s Prayer.
The Beatitudes consist of eight blessings recounted in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is the first book of the New Testament which stressed the life of Jesus as a fulfillment of Hebrew Scriptures. The message of Jesus in the Beatitudes is one of humility, charity, and brotherly love. He teaches transformation of ourselves and that living our lives in line with the virtues of the Beatitudes will ultimately lead to reward. Love thus becomes the motivation for the Christian.
The Ten Commandments are inscribed, as the original Ten Commandments were, on stone. The 12,000 pound stone used here is again South Dakota Sioux (Pink) Quartzite. The Ten Commandment used in the Shepherd’s Garden is from the New International Version. Our desire was to use a version thought to be generally close to the original Hebrew version of the Ten Commandments.
The Crosses are made of Cedar. Behind the Crosses is a flowing wall of water. Find out more about the crosses in the section on The Crosses.
The Lord’s Prayer at Shepherd’s Garden is inscribed on a circular stone; symbolizing the stone which was used to seal the tomb in which Jesus was placed after the crucifixion and which was rolled away after the resurrection. It is placed near the three crosses for this reason. It is also made from South Dakota Sioux (Pink) Quartzite.
The Shepherd’s Garden uses water both behind the Crosses and in the flowing waters stream along the walk. Water is an important element in the Bible. This illustration is clear repeatedly in familiar stories like the story of Noah and the Flood, Moses parting of the Red Sea waters in the Exodus, Jesus walking on water, and the sacrament of Baptism. The water features of Shepherd’s Garden are symbols of those events and other Biblical events and are meant to quiet our souls and open our hearts to the surroundings.
The vision of the Shepherd’s Garden was to create a Christian oriented green space. It exists for those with great faith, those with little faith and those with no faith. It is for those who go to church often and those who don’t go at all. It is for those who are grieving or joyful or troubled or at peace. It is a place to be strengthened and to find purpose.
The words placed here are words from the past, but they are for the present and the next century and will be as important in a millennium. They are as enduring as the as the 12,000 pound stone on which the Ten Commandments are engraved and the 4000 pound stone on which the 23rd Psalm is written.
Through the years this space will see the happiness and sadness of the lives of people, the successes and failures of our community. It will witness the good and the bad of humanity. It will be a place of celebration and reflection. But through it all, it will endure.