Contemplative Garden

At Spalding University

Contemplative Garden at Spalding University is located at 828 South Fourth Street at nearly the center point of the city of Louisville. Phase 1, the 27’ Enlightenment Stupa, was completed October 31, 2018. Phase 2, the labyrinth based on the historic labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, will be completed and opened to the public in the spring of 2020.

The Contemplative Garden is seeking individuals and organizations eager to be involved and supportive in the completion of the Contemplative Garden. This project will be funded solely by private donations. 100% of all received donations will be applied directly to the construction and maintenance of the park. Please see the CONTRIBUTE page to support the Garden.

Our Story

The story of Thomas Merton and the 14th Dalai Lama’s friendship is brief yet powerful.

A humble Gesthemani monk travels to Asia in the late 1960’s on a quest for broadening his understanding of spirituality. Over three encounters, these two visionary individuals from different corners of the world and historically opposing spiritual backgrounds, forged a deep friendship based on openness and understanding that is honored by the Dalai Lama to this day.

It is with this spirit that the Contemplative Garden is being built as a public touch stone for what is  good and positive. Contemplative Garden invites us to pause and catch our breath from the hectic world we live in.

Upon entering from the 4th st. entrance a twenty-seven foot high monument called a stupa, containing personal artifacts belonging to renowned compassionate individuals including Thomas Merton and Mother Teresa. Also housed within will be thousands of personally crafted wishes for world peace, prayers, mantras and items that represent happiness and well-being from all major religions.

A few steps west leads to the limestone and brick 47 foot diameter labyrinth modeled after the world’s most recognized labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, France. The design for this labyrinth dates back to 1205 when monks used the labyrinth for contemplation.

The Contemplative Garden will offer an oasis of peace, beauty and nature in the midst of an urban landscape on the campus of Spalding University. As one of the first two certified compassionate universities in the United States, Spalding University has allocated space for the Garden, now dedicated specifically for this purpose.

Photograph of Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama. Copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Labyrinth Renderings

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828 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203