One of the features of the Green Road, a natural healing garden for service members undergoing treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and their families, is a pair of benches provided by the TKF Foundation. Like most, they offer visitors a place to rest and reflect. What makes these Nature Sacred benches special is that they also offer a place to share those reflections. Below each seat, a compartment holds a waterproof journal and pen.
In the year since the Green Road's dedication, service members, their families, caregivers and others who work on the campus of Naval Support Activity Bethesda have recorded entries expressing a panoply of human experiences, such as joy, grief, gratitude, struggle, and awe.
Here are excerpts from the Green Road journals:
“Enjoyed the trail for the first time today. It made all the bad things go away if just for an hour. Thankful that I wake every morning to this beautiful world.”
“I reported for duty here not long ago. Had a tough week and a tougher day. I found this trail and it all melted away.”
“I find myself consumed in anger for all that I have seen, done, and for my brothers who have lost their lives in battle. I notice myself slipping further away from loved ones, losing myself in nature’s beauty. Hoping to find peace in my heart and to love mankind once more.”
“Took my patient for a walk here today. He really enjoys them. Thank you for the beautiful path to explore!”
“For the past two years I have been coming to here for major spinal cord surgeries. The peaceful trails have always aided in my healing. Each time, I have taken one small rock as a reminder of the strength I’ve needed and will continue to need through future surgeries.”
“A month and 2 days ago my husband, Sergeant A., died and went to heaven. This day I decided to take a walk in remembrance of him. This place of solitude closes the chapter of the life I once knew…. Thank you for creating a space for rejuvenation and renewal. This is a beautiful way to end my stay here at Walter Reed.”