Linton Hall Road Has a Place of Peace
By Katherine Gotthardt
Not many places on Linton Hall Road offer a place for meditative solitude. Yet, the Sisters at the Benedictine Monastery have done just that with labor, love and volunteers to create a unique spot for contemplation.
Among the natural trappings of this beautiful property, the Place of Peace has three major walking paths: a Tranquility Loop, a Peace Loop and a Monastic Loop.
The Tranquility Loop begins at the guesthouse and includes a woodland trail leading visitors through the Stations of the Cross.
The Peace Loop contains trees planted by members of Compassionate Friends, an organization supporting grieving parents. About 20 parents have sponsored trees under which memorials for deceased children mark a place for parents’ love and memories.
The second section of the Peace Loop includes the Benedictine Shrine, a butterfly garden, a wildflower garden, a pine grove, a fountain of peace, an arbor way and a labyrinth.
The labyrinth is laid on the ground in stone, much like a patio. While most people think of a labyrinth as a modern day maze, this one is a visual meditation leading visitors to a center point designed to bring focus inward.
The labyrinth lies beneath two Peace Silos, which are farm silos redesigned into what could be described as outdoor cathedrals. A column of stained glass adorns the silos’ walls from entryway to top. The roofs of the silos have been removed, and inside, stone flooring and a bench provide a place where visitors can look up at the sky. Whispers will bounce off the rounded walls, creating acoustic meditation.
The Place of Peace also has a Forgiveness Garden where a rough wooden cross sits amidst trees. A pile of stones is available for visitors to place at the base of the cross to symbolize giving resentment up to Jesus.
Throughout the grounds, stand Peace Poles on which, in a variety of languages, is written, “May peace prevail.”
The Monastic Loop has been designed for the sisters and is generally not open to the public. The loop includes the monastery gardens, a vegetable garden and a patio.
On the grounds are about 25 gardens of various flowers and plants.
Besides visitors, the sisters host master gardening classes provided by Virginia Tech. The Teaching Garden is project of the Master Gardener volunteers. The Teaching Garden began as a garden in which to grow fresh produce for the Plant a Row for the Hungry project, and a place where the Master Gardeners could teach homeowners how to grow vegetables. The Teaching Garden is a place to learn low maintenance gardening techniques that homeowners can implement in their own gardens. It features plant material that grows well locally.
The Master Gardeners are not the only regular visitors, however. Various organizations come for tours and groups hold picnics on the lawns. All are welcome to visit the Place of Peace, which is non-denominational. However, since the monastery property is private, the sisters do ask groups to call first and for visitors to check in at the main office.
For more information on the Place of Peace, call 703-393-2485 or visit www.benedictinepastoralcenter.org/place-of-peace.