Respect for the Interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
“Our seventh Principle may be our Unitarian Universalist way of coming to fully embrace something greater than ourselves. The interdependent web—expressed as the spirit of life, the ground of all being, the oneness of all existence, the community-forming power, the process of life, the creative force, even God—can help us develop that social understanding of ourselves that we and our culture so desperately need. It is a source of meaning to which we can dedicate our lives.”
~ Rev. Forrest Gilmore
The concept of Sacred Grounds for UUCOD springs from a deep spiritual foundation. By supporting the native plant and animal life we bring ourselves into relationship with them. Our focus shifts off of our rigid self-interest to something greater than ourselves, and then naturally our own concerns gently shrink and heal. The vision of Sacred Grounds is to support the native plants and animals and also to make a refuge for humans. In reality, those two are the interconnected.
Our 2.5 acre grounds provide habitat for native plants and animals, contemplation spaces for meditation and remembrance, a 60-feet diameter Peace Labyrinth, and artwork by Gene Kain.
“We will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum, 1968.)
The core of the Sacred Grounds Initiative is creation of several native habitat gardens, each representing a distinct ecological community of our desert, such as Desert Canyon, or Dry Wash, or Blow Sand Dunes. They are intended both to provide habitat for native species, to demonstrate to the larger community how to create habitat in their own backyard, and provide a meaningful and educational connection to the nature of which we are a part.
Impetus for the Sacred Grounds - Our 7th Principle writ large
As interpreted by Rod Belshee
Rod writes about the deep meaning of relationship that inspired the Sacred Grounds Initiative, giving his thoughts about a spiritual connection to something greater than ourselves, reflecting on a Cahuilla concept of nature, and offering an expansive view of Leave No Trace that challenges western ethos, all building a deep experiential connection with nature.
Our Peace Labyrinth
The UUCOD Peace Labyrinth started as Leslie Gebhart’s dream, a vision in 2002, and was dedicated on October 14, 2018. It is a Chartres-style, 60-feet diameter flat concrete surface with 34 turns on the journey to the center. This guided pathway is intended to facilitate the opportunity for reflection, understanding, mindful walking and a sense of peace. Open to all, it provides a unique, personal journey inward towards the center and outward, often with a renewed sense of possibility, purpose and commitment.
A walk in the labyrinth offers a return to the basics of stepping, breathing, & re-connecting to internal wisdom, noticing rhythms of breath, gait, patterns of thinking, ways of feeling.
~ Connect to your intuition
~ Inter-twine the power of flow with mindful steps
~ Unplug from the restlessness of your mind
Come walk alone or watch our calendar for labyrinth events. Follow on the Labyrinth Facebook page.
To reserve the Peace Labyrinth for a private event contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Green Sanctuary
Starting in 2009, Judy Farris led our church in a 2.5 year effort to become a certified Green Sanctuary, assessing UUCOD’s impact on the environment and changing practices from buying more environmentally-friendly supplies for the church to including a “Green Minute” in the Sunday order of worship. The program included many commitments to education and action. The UUA Green Sanctuary Program, reflecting our deep commitment to the Earth.
The UUA recognized UUCOD as an Accredited Green Sanctuary on October 13, 2011.
Since then we continue that commitment, including reaching a zero net carbon footprint in 2020 with the addition of rooftop solar generation.
Environmental responsibility is huge for this congregation.
Sacred Grounds Vision .
Habitat for native plants and animals
As the desert warms many species need help and we can provide a sanctuary. Included in this is creating several different types of habitat with indigenous plants, rocks, and water sources.
Contemplation spaces for meditation, reflection, and remembrance
Included in this is walking paths and benches that lay lightly and rightly upon the land, quiet and shaded meditative space, places for remembrance, integrating art in harmonious balance with nature.
… and connection through our Sacred Grounds with conservation groups in the valley.
Sacred Grounds Dreams
We Dream of Sacred Space and Sanctuary
In January 2020 the congregation met to share their dreams for our Sacred Grounds. Here is a summary/synthesis of discussion of future plans
~ to be discovered
~ to be created
~ to be engaged
Sacred Grounds History
Conceived in 2017, the Sacred Grounds Initiative grew into congregation-wide support in 2020, but then took a hiatus during the Covid pandemic. Sacred Grounds resumed in the summer of 2022.
The Sacred Grounds Initiative encompasses a long list of ideas, and there are a multitude of places to start. These Phase 1 projects have been approved, funded through donation, and scheduled for Fall 2023.
When you find a match for your heart’s desire, reach out to Sacred Grounds email.
How can I find connection with the Sacred Grounds?
Many opportunities exist for you to follow your interests and skills and deepen your connection to the land.
What matches your interests and skills? What will warm your heart? Find out the opportunites to get involved here.
2024 AND BEYOND
The Sacred Grounds Initiative encompasses a long list of ideas to enhance the grounds for people and to create a sanctuary for native plants and animals.
Our Desert Canyon Habitat is the first demonstration of perhaps five native gardens. We will enhance our Blow Sand Garden (home to the endangered Coachella Valley Milkvetch) and add new gardens such as Desert Dry Wash, and Creosote Scrub.
We can expand the popular tables by the labyrinth and Peace Pole with walking paths and seating. Perhaps also some poetry, art, or a nature walk? Expand our Outreach to more families and outside groups?
Plaza Water Feature
We can fulfill the original building vision with a lovely water feature area surrounded by circular seating.
By the bench dedicated to retired Rev. Barbara Fast and Gene Kains “Split Obelisk” art, we envision a butterfly garden and improved access from the street parking.
To make a donation to this entirely self-funded effort, make out a check to UUCOD, notate “Sacred Grounds” and mail to:
PO Box 2853
Or send a query to Sacred Grounds Donations.