Vision inspires Church garden

 

Rev. Charles Bowdler and Scott Steele

July 31, 2011 - northsidesun.com - “People try to tell me that what I went through wasn’t real,” he said. “I can only go by what I saw and what I experienced. I know that I have never had a dream like that before, though.”

A heavenly vision led to the construction of a garden at a Northside church. Fifty-seven-year-old Scott Steele of Madison was diagnosed with a benign ocular tumor in 2009. Minutes before the operation on September 11, 2009, doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center were optimistic the surgery would be successful.After surgery, a biopsy showed the tumor was malignant and doctors failed to retrieve the entire tumor, so a second emergency operation began.

With Steele’s life on the line, doctors retrieved the remaining parts of the tumor, and Steele was placed under a medically-induced coma. At some point during this three-day coma, Steele had a series of visions. One vision in particular Steele vividly recalls is a garden scene.“It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,” Steele said. “The colors were indescribable, unlike anything I had ever seen on earth.”

The vision, which Steele describes as the most vivid dream you could imagine, was no less than extraordinary. Steele recalls seeing everything in color and even being able to smell things. Sensory dreams are common to people who go through near-death experiences, but Steele believes what he experienced was different.

“People try to tell me that what I went through wasn’t real,” he said. “I can only go by what I saw and what I experienced. I know that I have never had a dream like that before, though. Steele said he conversed with a voice throughout the vision, and the voice presented him with instructions to go back to earth and tell his story effectively. Steele continues to tell his story, but what he has done at his childhood church, Briarwood Presbyterian, is perhaps more effective than just telling the story.

With the help of Ron Carroll of Carroll’s Nursery and Landscaping Company, Steele designed and built a garden at Briarwood Presbyterian that mirrors the garden witnessed from his vision.After telling people about his experience, someone turned him on to the Biblical passage Song of Solomon 2:1.Using the Biblical symbol of the passage, the “Rose of Sharon,” as the basis of his work, Steele created a garden that portrays his vision to the world.“It is a beautiful garden and we were more than happy to allow Scott to build it,” said the Rev. Charles Bowdler, senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

“The garden symbolizes the glory of God and how he continues to answer our prayers.”

Steele continues to undergo chemotherapy and tell his story. The commemorative garden was dedicated on June 22. Steele and Rev. Bowdler encourage everyone to stop by and view the garden.

The church is located at 620 Briarwood Dr., in Jackson, Mississippi.

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