What’s Happening in the Unity Meadow?

What’s Happening in the Unity Meadow?
(April 2017 report by Joy Warren)

It was a rainy and chilly Tuesday morning when the BB Barnes truck pulled up to the Labyrinth site filled with shrubs, trees, and ground covers to be planted in the recently prepared beds surrounding the sacred circular path. The vision was for better days with clear sunny skies, shining down on a garden buzzing with birds, bees an butterflies and a solo seeker quietly and thoughtfully walking the mazed path. However, today the truck was unloaded under the eye of a rain soaked landscape designer, Sally Sturdevant and her able assistant, Aon Nelson. Having already specified where the plants would ultimately be taking root, and with her vision focused on what the garden would become five years hence, she directed the two deliverymen in the placement of each container.

Sally was new to this site nor did she knows its history. In 2009, a group of Unity Church members then under the ministry of Chad O’Shea and his wife, Lytingale, had been inspired to create this ancient symbol which occurs around the world in different cultures, at different points in time, but with traces of it dating back over 3500 years. Led by Sam Richardson, the open field was doused to locate the ideal location, and supported by able men and women (notably James Miller, Walter Guffey, Joan Oriol, and Laura Nelson) the design was carefully laid out, and the bricks and gravel put down. Walking the path today, you can see the many blessings and commemorations that community members impressed on these original bricks.

In 2012, I was looking for a spiritual community where I would feel welcomed. I had heard of Unity and had attended another congregation in Houston, TX so I thought a visit to Mills River might be a good idea. Approaching the Church and driving down its long entrance on my left I saw the labyrinth. I immediately knew I was in the intended place. But it felt that something was missing and I set out to find a way to enhance the site. A landscape designer was hired. Tom Mainolfi from Carolina Landscapes put his vision for the site on paper and the plan was adopted. Included in the plan was not only a layout for the beds surrounding the labyrinth, but for paths that could be used for strolling around the open area in front of the labyrinth. The idea of a wild flower meadow sprung up!

Having worked with Sally and her SNS Design landscape firm in the past, I shared with her the plans. Her interior design talent shows itself in her love of working with multiple textures, shapes, and colors and her desire to celebrate each season with its unique offerings took expression in her recommendation for the plant selection. So as Tuesday’s rain moved out, and Wednesday presented itself in full sun, she was now directing a team of Unity community members inspired by the new ministry of Darlene Strickland and the idea of enhancing our beloved labyrinth. Jim Reed, Board President, in full gardening attire also led other team members as they picked, shoveled, and dug in the new plants. (Thanks to Nicola Karesh, Sage Green, Steve McKown, Judy and Dick Allen for all their efforts). Once the planting was complete, Sally, Jim and I, eyes focused on the open field, began discussing the prospects for the wild flower meadow. An interim plan was devised, testing the fields receptivity to seeding at this time and with future activity set for next Spring.

Today, Thursday brings a final touch. Rain expected again, but isn’t that all good for the new plantings? And it won’t stop the delivery of the 9 rocks to arrive this afternoon set for marking the entrance, and the directional markings of East, South, West and North. And what’s next.? I think we are going to have to have some benches, possibly a ceremonial structure, and there may be others that have ideas for programming and events that might be drawn to our newly
energized site. The future is always pregnant! In spite of the fact that the plan was one of sustainability, those new plants will count on us for loving and care when Nature’s care may be lacking. We will thank our volunteers for that as we will thank those who bring their blessings and energy to the site as it grows to fulfill Sally’s vision.

Joy Warren
April 27, 2017

List of plants:



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