Abiding Savior Lutheran Church & School - Gainesville, Florida
The Meditation Trail is a cooperative effort of Abiding Savior Lutheran Church (ASLC) and Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC). Approximately 1/4 of ASLC property is considered forested wetland and can not be filled in or constructed upon. Thus the concept for a scenic trail around the wetland originated to make use of the area. The first loop of the trail was established in 2000 around the wetland east of the church. Water & Air Research, Inc. (W&AR) determined the official wetland boundaries and placed permanent metal tags on some of the trees along the boundary - some of which can still be seen. W&AR personnel next flagged and cleared the initial loop of the trail outside of the wetland.
Beginning in December 2004, several loads of free mulch were obtained each year from GRU to mulch sections of the trail, thus better defining it and helping to keep down the weeds. Over the years more than 90 ASLC and CPC members, friends, and preschool parents have helped spread mulch along the trail and can officially claim the title of “Professional Mulch Mover”. Additional personnel have helped clear fallen trees off the trail, scrubbed and painted the bridges and benches, and cleared invasive plants from along the trail.
In 2005 the trail was expanded around wetlands on CPC’s property. Pastor Charles Reich and Mike Hein were “exploring” the woods north of the original loop and found a large water oak that had fallen over and was covered by resurrection ferns. Nearby was an area with lots of Spanish moss hanging from the trees. Thinking this area would be a great addition to the trail, ASLC started expanding the trail. However, upon looking at ASLC property maps later, it was realized we weren’t on ASLC property any more. Hence the hasty decision to convince CPC to do a joint trail with ASLC!
Many changes have taken place since then including the addition of three bridges and additional trail sections, with a total trail length today of more than 1/2 mile. Bruce Cole and John Heinser (former ASLC members) constructed the bridge with railings in July 2003 across the intermittent outflow stream near Newberry Road. They actually constructed the bridge in their shop, dismantled it in sections, and put it back together across the stream!
The two footbridges without railings were an Eagle Scout project of Peter Swanger in August 2011. Other scouts and parents from Scout Troop 432 and ASCL members helped. The meditation area with benches under the large live oak was another Eagle Scout project by Eric Bakuzonis (former ASLC member) in March 2006.
On a visit from Michigan in 2005, Bill Arndt (Robert & John Pett’s grandfather) became an official mulch mover, helping spread mulch. He realized that a larger tilting trailer to pull behind the lawn tractor would result in less trips along the trail. He went back to Michigan, built one, and the following year brought it back with him. Hence the origin of the trailer we are still using to help spread mulch!
The trail is intended to help individuals reflect upon their daily lives and enjoy the wonders of God's creation. Trail guides and maps are in mailboxes at both ends of the trail and additional sign posts and markers guide you along the way. Native vegetation is supplemented with flowering plants to ensure that something is blooming every month.