iPod meditations accompany pilgrims along Stations of the Cross

February 14, 2008

North Carolina sculptor Alex Hallmark and an Episcopal church in Maryland have combined their talents to create an outdoor spiritual pathway in the rolling hills of Monkton, north of Baltimore, in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Debra Donnelly-Barton, director of the Center for Spiritual Development at St. James Episcopal Church, together with Hallmark, will inaugurate his creation of the Stations of the Cross with her iPod meditations at the church on March 8 at 9 a.m.

It was Julia Fleming's article on Hallmark in last September's issue of Episcopal Life and republished on the publication's website that sparked an idea by the Rev. Charlie Barton, rector of the diocese's fifth largest parish, and led him to contact the sculptor.

The article described how Hallmark, a former real estate businessman in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, bored with his job, became inspired by reading about the work of Ernst Barlach, a German sculptor whose anti-war creations were destroyed by the Nazis in World War II.

Hallmark, who began to bring modeling clay to his work, eventually had to decide between the two professions. The article included illustrations of large sculptures Hallmark created as Stations of the Cross for his home church, St. Mary-of-the-Hills in the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

Barton asked Hallmark to create outdoor, weather-resistant Stations of the Cross for the Monkton parish, and Donnelly-Barton wrote the meditations to match his sculptures for the self-guided, iPod-based walks.

Zach Wright, an Eagle Scout candidate, designed, built and installed the stands for the stations, located on the pathway of St. James Church and Academy, a kindergarten-to-Grade-8 parish day school.

Another Eagle Scout candidate, Chris DiFatta, created and installed large directional signs and benches as his community service project.

Sculptures weather resistant
Hallmark will talk on March 8 about the artistic inspiration that led him to create the weather-resistant sculptures, moving from devotion to image. Donnelly-Barton will follow, discussing the transition of moving from image to word.

"A pilgrimage is a walk in which there is an expectation or hope of transformation," she said. "To walk the Stations of the Cross is to make a pilgrimage through Jesus' last journey that led to the greatest transformation the world has yet to witness.

"We follow the Lord so that we may learn through the last movements in his life new things about the present movements in our own lives."

As participants walk the stations, they can listen to the meditations written and recorded by Donnelly-Barton. She said a limited number of iPods will be available for use, but attendees are encouraged to download the meditations to their own iPods prior to arriving for the event.

These meditations will be available on the church's website, beginning March 1 and at the church for download on the day of the event. Advance registration is required on the church's website. A donation of $20 will include lunch. The site is handicapped accessible.

Further information is available here or at Hallmark's site here.

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