The Oscar and Anna Laura Page Meditation Garden—completed this fall just east of Wynne Chapel—was dedicated during Homecoming 2021.
At the dedication, President Steven O’Day said that the spot that is now the meditation garden had been beautiful before, “but you walked past it on the way to somewhere else. Now you want to be part of it,” he said. “It feels to me as though this has always been here. That’s the beauty of this space that includes a columbarium, labyrinth, finger labyrinth, benches, and lights.”
“Come back at night,” he urged. “It is a lantern that calls you.”
O’Day said a committee of alumni had been involved in the project and that the garden was made possible by private philanthropy, with the lead gift coming from Carol McDonald ’72 and her husband, Scott Schmidt.
Carol McDonald ’72 and her husband, Scott Schmidt, first brought up the idea of the garden to College leadership because of the columbarium portion of the project. (A columbarium holds urns containing cremated remains.) “Now that parents and children often live across the country from one another and do not plan to be buried together, a columbarium offers an alternative to being buried in a cemetery no one will ever visit,” Carol said. “Faculty who have given their lives to the College may feel the campus is an appropriate resting place.”
Alumni who remain active in the life of the College throughout their entire lives may feel that same attachment to the campus, Carol explained, adding that sometimes several members of a family may attend the College over generations. “The graduates may have met on campus and been married here; then, their children may have attended and even met their spouses here,” Carol added.
Once the project was approved, Carol and her husband did not wait to donate the lead gift to make it happen. And, when asked, they had no hesitancy as to the naming of the area. They wanted it to honor Oscar and Anna Laura Page. During Dr. Page’s presidency at the College (1994-2009), Carol worked closely with him through her role as president of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, as well as an alumna of Austin College and a member of its Alumni Board. Meanwhile, Anna Laura Page, an accomplished musician and composer, invited them to their home where Scott saw her baby grand piano and knew they were kindred spirits with a shared professional interest in music.
President O’Day offered Oscar and Anna Laura Page on opportunity to speak at the dedication, and Oscar said a word of thanks. “This week, I was thinking back to 1994 when we arrived here and began to meet people,” he said. “I began to recognize this is a place where alumni grow close to one another. They go to each other’s weddings and to the births of one another’s children. I saw a family of delightful people that I have been happy to be a part of for many years,” Page said. “I am thankful to the Board of Trustees for agreeing to do this very meaningful thing. I thank you also for remembering us in such a special way.”
FROM THE DEDICATION SERVICE
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
WORDS FROM THE CHAPLAIN
The Lord who is our shepherd
makes us lie down in green pastures…
leads us beside still waters…
Those are useful images for us as we think about this Meditation Garden.
Green pastures and still waters are metaphors for
And this beautiful new garden is exactly that.
The shade of the trees and the gentle touch of the breeze invite us to relax;
to put away our anxieties,
and to enjoy
the generous beauty of our surroundings.
The next verse of the Psalm says that this Lord who is our shepherd
and leads us to places of stillness and rest also
restores our souls…
Our prayer is that this Garden may be a source of rest,
renewal, and restoration for all in the Austin College community.
The second part of Psalm 23:4 says the Lord
leads us in right paths.
That’s a pretty good way to think about this labyrinth.
For centuries, individuals, formal cultures, and
various religious traditions have used labyrinth designs to symbolize
and facilitate their search for meaning and guidance.
This labyrinth is a “unicursal,” one-path design.
There are no tricks or puzzles or decisions to be made.
Once you enter the labyrinth,
you are led in the “right path.”
The labyrinth is non-sectarian.
People of all faiths,
people seeking perspective and clarity,
walk labyrinths in all kinds of contexts and places.
All are welcome here—
to walk the labyrinth or
use the finger labyrinth.
In the coming days, we will install a QR Code that will connect visitors to a resource for walking the labyrinth.
It’s the “right path.”
But that “right path” might be different for every walker, every time.
The 23rd Psalm also says that even when
we are in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,”
we are not alone—
that God is with us even there.
That means God is also with us as we consider and
face our own deaths or the death of our loved ones.
So it is appropriate that one feature of this Garden is
This Columbarium will provide a final consecrated,
resting place for members of the Austin College community who choose to have their ashes placed here.
Austin College has prepared and set aside this
Oscar and Anna Laura Page Meditation Garden
to be a place of rest and communion
for the entire Austin College family.
We intend for this to be a place of stillness and solace
where our students, faculty,
staff, alumni, and friends
can find peace and purpose,
comfort and courage.
It’s for all of us.