72425 Via Vail
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Sacred Grounds

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

Sacred Grounds

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.

Browse through the pages below to find your connection to the land, and reach out to us at Sacred Grounds email, or make a donation.

Desert Canyon Habitat, including a TOUR!
Celebration Garden
Creating Habitat

“f we are curious, then we learn,
When we learn, then we understand,
When we understand then we love,
When we love, then we conserve.

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 provide habitat for native species, 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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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 admin@uucod.org


Our Green Sanctuary

Join the September 15 Launch of the New Green Sanctuary Program: A Faithful Response to Climate Urgency

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

We Dream of Sacred Space and Sanctuary

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.

History of the Sacred Grounds Initiative

Fall 2023

These are the first batch of Sacred Grounds projects, completed in the Fall of 2023.

Plaza Enhancement

Celebration Garden

Desert Canyon Habitat

See how you can help plan the next phase.

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.



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. 

Native Habitat Gardens

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.

Peace Garden

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.

Garden of Hope

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.

Details of future ideas


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
Rancho Mirage
CA 92270.

Or send a query to Sacred Grounds Donations.