By Jelane A. Kennedy
The Ulfelder Healing Garden on the 8th floor of the YawkeyBuilding on the campus of Massachusetts General Hospital was a beautiful little place that had both inside and outside spaces. The garden overlooks the Charles River and allowed visitors to see the boats passing serenely by. The multiple spaces provided seating both inside and outside along with sculptures, trees and other plantings. There was also a small fountain that added to the ambience. The garden can be enjoyed in both good and foul weather.
Near our hotel in Somerville was a great little path we enjoyed as part of the Sylvester Baxter Riverfront Park. It followed along the Mystic River and was part of the new Assembly Mall area, which opened in Fall 2014. The Mall had outlet shops and several restaurants. The walking/bike path along the river was a real gem. With great views of the local yacht club and boats, a boardwalk that went under a bridge where people were fishing and an amphitheater like area. There was also a small children’s play ground where the kids could play on drums, climb the jungle gym and splash in the kiddy water park. Every time we went we would find people of all ages, walking and biking. It was so relaxing.
Another little space we enjoyed was the Thoreau Path that meandered between Cardinal O’Connell Way and Charles Street. The path incorporated multiple small gardens, which appeared to have been created by each housing complex. Along the main path were connecting trails that had been created to direct people to different places between the blocks like Massachusetts General Hospital or the North Station train along with each of the housing complex’s entrances. Another feature were phrases added to each directional sign that shared pieces of poetry or a saying from the six transcendental authors represented: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Amy Lowell, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry David Thoreau. Stopping to read the writings adds to the serenity of the walk.
Taking the T has also proven to be just as easy as I remembered it to be. Allowing us access to multiple places. We skipped from the red line to the green line as we found the Mapparium a three-dimensional stained glass globe that was 30 feet wide and three stories in circumference. We walked into the globe to experience it turned inside out so we were seeing the world from that vantage point but stuck in time: 1935 way before each of us were born. It was interesting to see the countries that existed at that time and those that we hear about today that are not represented on the globe. It was decided not to update the globe so that it could serve as a time capsule; it showed the world just prior to the start of World War 2. While inside the globe there were some very cool sound effects that occur but I won’t tell you so you might experience them yourself.
The Mapparium is in the larger complex of the Christian Science church. As we entered campus we didn’t at first realize the enormity of it, 14 acres in the middle of Boston. That day as we exited the T we were struck by the quietness around us. The Christian Science Church looms out of the center of the area, with the Mapparium and the building housing the Christian Science Monitor off to one side. Prior to entering the building we first stopped at the small reflection wall garden, where we read the poem gliding under the water while we sat on benches and enjoyed our lunch. We then caught the next tour of the Mapparium after which we then went upstairs to learn more about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church.
We did not know much about Mary Baker Eddy so we were curious, she spent the first 40 years of her life dealing with the medical establishment as she was as they said in that time “sickly”. She struggled with chronic illness and sought out a variety of treatments to find lasting health, which eluded her. In her mid-forties she has a nasty fall on the ice that left her in critical condition in which they thought she would not live through the night. That night she asked for a bible and studied the scriptures about healing, in particular the work of Jesus. The next day she was able to get up and walk. This led her to continue to study and explore healing scriptures in the bible and ultimately to write a book about what she had learned. The book (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) took 9 years to write and became a guide to others. A year later she started the Church of Christ, Scientist.
In her 80’s she also started the Christian Science Monitor, as a counterpoint to the tabloid newspapers that were popular at that time. Mary Baker Eddy’s directive was to publish a newspaper to inform others through the motto “to injure not man, but to bless all mankind”. The Christian Science Monitor has been a leading international paper that has won to date 7 Pulitzer Prizes.
After our visit to learn about Mary Eddy Baker we then walked over to take a tour of the Christian Science church. We were surprised to learn that it was really two church buildings in one. The original smaller church was attached to the larger church. They out grew the original church in less than 10 years so the larger sanctuary had to be added. The building was beautiful and our tour docent was willing to answer all our questions (at the start of the tour there were only the two of us). The building contained many architecture and stained glass features that where in and of themselves worth the visit to the church. Even in it’s grandeur there was a quiet humbleness to the building.
Our final stop that day included walking the length of the outdoor reflecting pond included in the complex and to sit and watch the people play in the fountain. Again the area was well maintained and sitting under the trees you felt like you were in an oasis.
These were some of the small jewels we found within the larger city of Boston that offered solace within the busy and hectic activity of the larger city.
© 2015 Jelane A. Kennedy