I’m not a religious person but I think everyone can do with some quiet time in a quiet place once in a while – to rest, reflect and refocus.
Mingary is a Gaelic word meaning ‘the quiet place’ and I’ve always been curious about the signs for the non-denominational sanctuary off to the side of St Michael’s Uniting Church.
Given the church’s faintly Moorish style of architecture, I’d always imagined Mingary to be sort of like the gardens of the Alhambra, with a narrow pool of water bounded by shadowy alcoves made for sitting and strolling.
In fact, it’s a dimly lit arched room with a few single chairs along the walls and a sculpture in the middle comprising the most basic of organic forms – rock, stone and water. A few people were inside when I entered in my lunch hour – a middle-aged man who appeared to be praying and a woman who’d drawn up a chair for a nap.
The church’s website says that Mingary has been developed as a place for personal reflection and offers a peaceful escape from the hectic demands of city life. For about 10 minutes, I found myself staring at the slowly trickling water and examining the lines of the hewn rock, in a mind-space well away from to-do lists and my constant on-the-go pace of life. I became acutely conscious of the sounds of traffic and trams nearby, so next time I might bring some meditative music on headphones with me as well.
I feel blessed that Melbourne offers a place such as Mingary. It is truly a precious piece of hidden Melbourne.