There will be 26 such messages on this spiritual journey, beginning with A ("And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air." Genesis 2:19) and ending with Z ("Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness." Isaiah 1:27).
Young has worked as a volunteer at the arboretum for almost 20 years since the day he and his late son, Philip, discovered the beginning of an overgrown path. They took machetes and hacked away at the weeds. They uncovered more of the trail as it zigzagged up an incline to a clearing with a giant round crater with a couple of trees growing up from its center: an old reservoir once used by the town of Wayne.
Young researched the site and found records showing that it was used between 1900 and 1915. Other signs that the arboretum had a former life are flagstones discovered under segments of the trail and what remains of some formal rock gardens. String quartets once played chamber music there, Young said.
The Church of the Saviour, one of the largest nondenominational congregations on the Main Line, purchased the property in 1975 for $500,000. The sprawling sanctuary in the center of the property seats around 1,100.
The estate once belonged to the LeBoutillier family. In 1906, Roberts LeBoutillier built a mansion on it at a reported cost of $1 million. He was a Philadelphia retailer who ran a department store in the city.
But his love and avocation was horticulture. He designed the gardens and trails, populated by about 120 varieties of trees and shrubs. At one time he was head of the American Horticultural Society, and its yearly meetings were held at his mansion.
His two sons, Henry and Charles, had no interest in gardening. However, his grandson, also named Roberts, is the co-owner with his wife, Linda, of Waterloo Gardens Inc., which has nurseries in Devon and Exton.
"The family lived there until around 1942," said Linda LeBoutillier. ''After that it was farmed for tomatoes and corn, but no one lived there."
The mansion burned down in 1965 when a group of teenage boys started a fire while playing on the third floor of the abandoned home.
"We were going to dig up some of the trees and move them before we sold it, but when we heard the church was going to keep it intact and establish an arboretum, we decided to leave everything as it was," she said.
Young and his staff of about a dozen volunteers researched and cataloged the trees and made plaques identifying them. In addition to maples, chestnuts and oaks, the arboretum has Chinese elms, Kentucky coffee trees, sweet gums, Ohio buckeyes, and - perhaps most fittingly - a devil's walking stick and a tree of heaven.
The arboretum is still a work-in-progress, said Young. Mark Memoli, the church groundskeeper, works with Young's group to maintain the area.
On a recent visit, Larry Grewe, a church member, was erecting an arbor he had built as an entrance to the meditation garden. Church officials hope outdoor weddings may be performed there.
A small former stable on the corner of the property now serves as the nature center.
"The idea is to conserve God's land the way He created it, to be good stewards," said Young.
IF YOU GO
* The arboretum is open to visitors at any time. The church is at 651 N. Wayne Ave. To visit the nature center, call 610-688-6137.