Three Sisters Sanctuary offers space for healing, memorials

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  • A sculpture representing water at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen. Photographed on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Three Sisters Sanctuary founder Richard Richardson pauses at the sculpture gardens' theater in the round in Goshen on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Andrew Dickinson of Cummington plays a baroque flute in one of the circles at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Three Sisters Sanctuary sculpture gardens in Goshen features a theater in the round. Photographed on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Owner Richard Richardson passes by a sculpture representing water at the Three Sisters Sanctuary sculpture gardens in Goshen on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Three Sisters Sanctuary founder Richard Richardson talks on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, about creating the sculpture gardens in Goshen over several decades. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sara Wenona LaBonte, who runs Good Time Stove Company, joins her father, Three Sisters Sanctuary founder Richard Richardson, to talk about how the business and the sculpture gardens have complemented each other. Photographed at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Andrew Dickinson of Cummington plays a baroque flute in one of the circles at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2021 7:56:37 PM

GOSHEN — The Three Sisters Sanctuary, an outdoor space full of art that is one with the landscape in which it resides, was created as a way to deal with grief. Now, people who wish to use the sanctuary for memorials can do so, at no cost to themselves.

“I have an obligation to our community to offer them something that will help heal them and help ground them and give them a space that they can say goodbye (in), without me creating any obstacles,” said Richard Richardson, founder of the sanctuary.

Richardson, 72, has lived on his Goshen property since 1976. In 1994, he started work on what would become the Three Sisters Sanctuary in response to the impending death of his brother Chuck.

“He helped me install the first three gardens,” Richardson said.

After one of Richardson’s three daughters, Tina Marie Richardson, died of an aneurysm 10 years later, Richardson named the space after his daughters.

The sanctuary also has a stone cairn, which houses Tina Marie’s ashes.

So far, four people have had memorials at the space this year under the no cost policy, although donations are still accepted under it.

“People can determine what they can afford and what they can give,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s daughter Sara Wenona LaBonté said that her father’s pricing decision for memorials “feels very organic and natural.”

And she said that the space has allowed many people to heal.

“It has built a little cradle, if you will, into which healing just sort of naturally happened,” she said.

Those who want to have a memorial at Three Sisters Sanctuary can contact Richardson by phone at 413-268-3677 or by email at info@threesisterssanctuary.com.

“I want them to share the sanctuary,” Richardson said. “This isn’t about the money.”

Three Sisters Sanctuary is full of landscape art designed by Richardson. This includes a maze, an infinity circle, a theater in the round and a large stone dragon that breathes actual fire.

The dragon piece, called The Dragon’s Den, has served as a magnet for people. As soon as it was completed, Richardson said, people started leaving objects there. These objects include prayer cards, action figures and rocks.

“I leave them right where they are,” Richardson said.

There are also art pieces from a number of other artists at the sanctuary.

Richardson said he feels his work at the sanctuary has been influenced by him working through things from a past life.

“My world is a magical world that I live in,” he said.

The property contains an old stone dump, which has provided materials for his art.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, memorials have been the only events held at the sanctuary this year. However, it is still open to the public seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sara Wenona LaBonté noted that there is a lot of space on the property for social distancing.

“We welcome people to come here and visit and feel healed and inspired, as well as safe,” she said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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