Prayer Garden

St Nicholas of Myra

" Our Lives are made of journeys

There are journeys which bring us to places that are familiar and those which lead us into the unknown and the new. The faith we profess leads us on a Spiritual journey - one which too can enter the unknown. For some, this journey travels the rocky road of doubt and life's circumstances question the presence or whereabouts of the God of our journey."

So begins the notice board in our prayer garden which is located beyond the Parish Centre at St Nicholas of Myra on Sparrow Road, Dunlavin.
The Prayer Garden was designed by a parishioner and skilled gardener, Paul O’Toole.
The notice board explains the well thought-out design and meaning of the garden…

Our Garden reflects the journey of Faith. A journey with God who is ever present but whom we sometimes feel has left us alone.  The Story of Creation tells how the first man and woman – Adam and Eve – fell from God’s grace in the shade of a tree. Christ, the new Adam won salvation in the shade of a tree, namely the Wood of His Cross.  Here in the shade of a tree you will find a circule area with seven stepping stones.  The Circle represents God’s love which is eternal with no beginning or end. Within the circle of his love, we grow in grace through the Sacraments.  The Sacraments are occasions of the journey of our faith when we encounter God and come closer to him.  In this area of our garde you are invited to reflect on the Ssacraments you have received, renew yuor commitments to them open you heart to God’s Spirit.”

Our main paths are designed in the shape of a fish.  The Fish has a scriptural tradition and both a Christian symbol.”

The Fish outline is a logical symbol for the early Christian church to adopt. Fish are often mentioned in the gospels. Some Christians believe that a second link between their religion and the fish symbol is seen in the Greek word for fish (ichthus, spelled: Iota Chi Theta Upsilon Sigma). That is an acrostic, which has many translations in English. The most popular appears to be “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”. [Iesus (Jesus) Christos (Christ) Theou (God) Uiou (Son) Soter (Saviour)].  An acrostic is an “arrangement of words in which the first letter of each line ordinarily combines with others to form a word or words of the alphabet.”

The Apostles were often referred to as “fishers of men”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi, the root of this Latin word is “Fish”.  The symbols sacramental fish with wine and a basket of bread represents the Eucharist and the Last Supper in Christian Art. The symbol was simple to draw and was often used among Christians as a type of password during times of persecution by the Roman government. If two strangers met and were unsure whether each other was a Christian, one would draw an arc in the earth like ). If the other were a Christian, they would complete the symbol with a reverse arc ), forming the outline of a fish.”

The centre path brings you over two small Bridges.  These Bridges represent those Bridges we must cross on life’s journey.  There are times when we see them as a challenge, an obstacle or an achievement. At other times they are difficult to cross, but with God on our side none is impossible.”

In the centre of the Fish, we have a Remembrance Area. In the Old Testament, we hear how Jonah spent three days and nights in the bell of a whale.  This was a foreshadowing of Christ spending three days in the tomb before His Resurrection.  The Resurrection of Christ is the central mystery of the Christian Faith. As St Paul tells us “If Christ had not risen from the dead our faith would not be in vain.” When the journey of life brings us onto the road we call death, we follow the journey of bereavement.  Along the journey there are times we now Remember and Commemorate.  There are places we go which recall memories of the past. In this place of Remembrance we are invited to sit, remember and pray.  The flower beds contain twelve rose bushes.  These symbolise the twelve months of the year.  After the death of a loved one certain dates in a year gain a new significance and meaning.

When the roses and plants are in bloom, they bring forth a new beauty, symbolising the new life and beauty found only in resurrection with Christ.  From the beginning of His creation, the glory, beauty and greatness of God is found in what he has created.”

I see His blood upon the rose

and in the stars the glory of His eyes,

His body gleams amid eternal snows

His tears fall from the skies.


I see His face in every flower

The thunder and the singing of the birds

Are but His voice and carven by His power

Rocks are his written word.


All pathways by His feet are worn,

His strong heart stirs the ever beating sea,

His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn

His cross is every tree


Joseph Mary Plunkett