Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Garden Close to Heaven

It doesn't contain fairies or even unicorns, but the garden located at Loyola House where the Jesuits reside is, according to Fr. Tom Lucas, "pretty magical." Hidden behind 6-foot-tall ivy covered walls is a secret garden where only a select few, mainly Jesuits and their guests, have stepped foot in. Only the soothing sounds of trickling water and chirping birds can be heard while walking along the outside of the walls. It seems as if the sun is always shining here, even on a dreary day. Sometimes students can be seen tiptoeing on the stairs located beside the garden to sneak a peek inside. I must confess, when I first transferred to USF, I have tried to steal a glance through a gap at the rear gate. What is this place that has garnered so much attention, even from the raccoons, hawks, and hummingbirds? What makes it so special?


Built in 1998 under the guidance of Lucas, a Jesuit and professor at USF, during the construction of Loyola House, the garden contains italian, mediterranean, and southwestern influences. Highlighted with hedges, sprinkled with bushes and trees, as well as dotted with different pots and plants, the garden provides a little paradise. This paradise is paralleled with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, and residential homes that line the northernmost part of San Francisco.
It is a space for the Jesuit community to relax from the hustle and bustle of life and the city, a place where they can reflect and meditate. Lucas said it was designed so that more than one person can use it. The garden has three seating areas; the first area is located on the patio overlooking the garden, the second is in the far right corner surrounded by trees and rocking chairs, and the third is on the left corner behind the chapel. An octagon shaped fountain stands inbetween the two corner seating areas, providing a hypnotic melody with each drop of water. "Gardens give you breathing room, gardens give you mental room," Lucas said.

The garden not only provides a serene space or fresh lemons and rosemary, it is also a symbol for life Lucas said. Like a garden, life also needs to be tended to and is a constant work. Gardens are also for memory, for remembering the past. He pointed out that at the seating area behind the chapel there is a statue of St. Joseph that was from Xavier Hall where the Jesuits used to live. Artwork can also be found on the wall there in a Gloria Osuna-Perez Lady of Guadalupe plaque; it is the last piece the artist made before she died. With its lush atmosphere, beautiful foliage, and breathtaking view, not to mention its mystery, it's no wonder why people and animals are so drawn to this place. But together with its symbolism and connections to history does this place become something truly special for those it was made for. On this place on the hill, the Jesuits can retire to relax, remember the past, reflect on the present, and look on to the future.

7 comments:

Michael Vick said...

I like the reporting on the Gloria Osuna-Perez artwork. I wanted to use this, but I didn't get a picture.

Todd said...

more good facts, plus the fairies/unicorns line tickled my funny bone

eerickson said...

Very informative (gives good history background info) Some of the sentences are a little long but the flow feels pretty good. Amazing ending sentence.. perfect

andrew oliver said...

There is a great amount of detail in this post, and it gives a clear picture of what the place is all about. one suggestion, for blog writing you may want to use shorter paragraphs to make for easier reading.

Christina W said...

I like your opening and closing sentences. There are some typos and sentences that can be re-worked so it flows more smoothly, but otherwise you wrote a nice blog. Also, you could mention that Lucas said rosemary is for remembrance since that was a theme here.

SKBlackburn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SKBlackburn said...

I love that you tried to look inside the garden when you transferred, because I live on lone-mountain and often find myself fighting the urge to scale the ivy-covered wall and enjoy this garden! As I think the price of tuition should be considered (over-compensating)collateral.