[singlepic id=84 w=320 h=240 float=left]Just over a 2 weeks ago, we visited a site in downtown Salt Lake that I’ve been wanting to see ever since I first stumbled across some information on it, on the internet.
Its called the Gilgal Garden, and is located at 749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT. The gardens were built by Thomas Child, who worked on it throughout his life. He named the place after the location where Joshua had the Israelites take 12 stones and place them together as part of a covenant and memorial, after crossing the Jordan river on dry land. Bro. Child was sculptor and put his own interpretations of scriptures, into stone. The piece for which he named the garden, features 12 stones in a circle, with an etching of “The Captain of the Lord’s Host” standing at the head. Because it was basically his backyard, the garden is somewhat secluded and hidden. You can read more about the garden at Wikipedia, or I have uploaded a scan of the walk-through self-tour guide.
Some people might find it strange or weird. And, admittedly I did at first. There’s something unsettling about entering the rather peaceful and beautiful garden, then suddenly coming upon a replica of the great sphinx in Egypt, only to realize that the normal nose-less face is not only complete, but the face of Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration. Other strange things appear, like a stone head that’s a self-portrait-sculpture of Bro. Child himself, as well as a larger-than-life, full-body carving of him in a suit jacket.
[singlepic id=72 w=320 h=240 float=right]For me, the turning point came when I saw his representation of Malachi 4:5–6, depicting the “turning of hearts.” In a small cave-like overhang of rock, Thomas Child carved two hands reaching down from the ceiling, as if from a cloud or through a veil, poised near two other stones that sat on the rock floor. These stones were very large (the size of 2 people’s heads) hearts. Not our Valentines heart-shapes, but 2 human hearts with valves, arteries, and ventricles. This very modern, yet symbolic, representation of the scripture really got me thinking. I appreciated the symbolic motivation, and the desire to get people to see the scriptures differently than we’re often taught in the “Sunday School,” simple-basics way. I believe his purpose was to encourage a symbolic interpretation of scriptures and other things in the world around us that teach us the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Its an amazing place, and one man’s life work. I encourage you to make a stop next time you visit Temple Square or the “normal” sights everyone visits in downtown Salt Lake. Here’s one of my favorite texts my wife found there. Bro. Child wrote this, then carved it in one of the many stones you walk on as you tour the garden, most of which also have quotes, scriptures, etc.
In a sense knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows: for details are swallowed up in priciples. The details of knowledge which are important will be picked up ad hoc in each avocation of life; but the habit of the active utilization of well-understood principles is the final possession of wisdom. – Thomas Child
I’ve put some of my pictures in a gallery on the pictures page (and also below). The Salt Lake Tribune has a cool little interactive tour of the garden as well. Also, if you haven’t already, you might like to see our pictures from the Salt Lake City graveyard. Many of my modern hero’s were buried there.