A visit to Avenstone in August: Magical and Meaningful
Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One, you can see; one, you cannot. One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.
—Elizabeth Gilbert, quoting her friend, Bob, in “Eat, Pray, Love,” p. 144
Avenstone is a residential property located not far from Kingston, just north of Camden East, owned and cared for by Jane and Peter Good. It is a place the public are invited to visit on specified days and times in August. There, you can cut literally buckets-full of flowers to take home with you from the extensive cutting gardens, wander and enjoy the rest of the peaceful property, learn about the important work of Hospice, and, if you are comfortable doing so and able, make a donation to support the work of either Hospice Lennox and Addington, Hospice Kingston, or both.
Avenstone is a beautiful, welcoming, down-to-earth place. I’ve visited for the last three years each August and I would describe the visits as magical and meaningful. To me, the beauty of the gardens reflects the beauty of the Goods’ initiative to raise awareness about the work of Hospice, as well as to help raise funds to support local Hospice organizations.
As a short primer, Hospice organizations provide palliative care and support to terminally ill people of all ages and to their caregivers. As examples, this may be via visits to individuals who are living in their homes, nursing homes, or hospitals, or it may be through providing space and care in a residential hospice where individuals with a terminal illness can live during the end of their lives. Hospice organizations may also provide bereavement support. In all cases, Hospice organizations rely heavily on donations, fund-raising efforts, and the countless hours of care and assistance offered by volunteers.
With respect to community residential hospices, a local moving example and product of the incredible effort and support of an entire community is the community residential hospice in Picton (part of Hospice Prince Edward), which recently opened. Hospice Lennox and Addington is also raising funds to one day build a residential site.
We are all literal bodies, with flesh, and bones, and physical needs (for food, water, warmth, shelter, safety). As such, some of us will require substantial support and assistance at some time in our lives due to illness.
We are all also poetic bodies, touched by beauty, inspired by stories, images, and symbol, and at least at certain times, find ourselves trying to navigate the many variegations in life. Whether experiencing illness or good health or some combination of these, our poetic bodies remain (bodies that are in relationship with basically everything).
As I understand it, one special thing about Hopsice is the recognition they have of both the literal and the poetic in their commitment to bring care and dignity to people who are experiencing a terminal illness and to their loved ones.
If you’d like to nourish your own poetic and physical selves, while also learning about and supporting the work of Hospice, do visit Avenstone. This year, Avenstone is open to the public each Sunday in August from 2 p.m. until dusk. For directions, as well as to find information on how to start your own gardening and giving initiative, please visit www.gardeningandgiving.ca.
2014 Update: View Avenstone 2014 info and dates