Hidden away behind the new, massive Oakland Cathedral of Christ the Light is a “Healing Garden” for the victims of sexual abuse by priests. I knew it was there because I’d read about it when the cathedral was opened to the public, but had a hard time finding it.
I was having a stressful day at my office, which is just across the street from the cathedral, and had gone looking for the garden at lunch. I thought that a few minutes in a healing garden would be restorative before tackling the afternoon’s work.
The “garden” is hidden away in a little corner behind the church, and consists of a small patio, about 10 feet in diameter, ringed by wooden benches arranged in a circle around what looks like a big cracked rock. The only greenery in the “garden” are some small hedges in cement planters that support the slatted benches.
The healing I found in the garden came from sunshine and sketching, not from sitting next to the huge concrete cathedral, on a hard wooden bench, gazing at what turned out to be a sculpture of a big cracked rock, not an actual rock.
The plaque on the bench: “This healing garden, planned by survivors, is dedicated to those innocents sexually abused by members of the clergy. We remember, and we affirm, NEVER AGAIN.”
The plaque beside the sculpture: “Some day, 11, 2000. Masatoshi Izumi. Basalt.”
I get that the sculpture might represent how hard, broken, and cracked apart the lives of the victims must be. What I don’t get is how this could be called a “Healing Garden.” Where’s the garden? Where’s the healing?
I hope that survivors who visit and are able to find the garden do find it a healing experience.