As I walk through the garden at sunset I recall the healing events I have experienced here. Since about 1981 I have been visiting the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. I learned about it while doing a story on luminaria when working at the Scottsdale Daily Progress newspaper. The luminaria are paper bags with a candle inside lighting the pathways and the custom comes from the Mexican tradition of leading the way for the coming of Christ. At the garden, musicians hide in grottos playing instruments and bell choirs inspire in an adobe building dating to the 1930s.
In addition to the holiday tradition, the garden offers offrenda or an altar decorated to welcome the souls of the dead which may arrive here for one night on the day of the dead, October 31. I pause to let go and allow my loved ones to rise peacefully to heaven. As I visit a young woman stands weeping at the altar constructed to provide food and drink for the souls of the dead.
The pathways also offer places to grind mesquite beans into flour and listen to frogs by a pond. At a hilltop or butte we have seen a shooting star and on occasion a tortoise emerges from a burrow to peek at visitors.
In addition, our family came there for a respite one late summer night after my husband got home from work. We carried our infant around at sunset until a monsoon began to creep into the garden and we scurried to our car making it just in time before the deluge.
Photo by Darcy Hughes