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  • Writer's picture Saundra Shanti

Chapel or Secret Hideout?

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

My drawings for the #chapel windows of St. Mark's Hospital were interpreted by glass artist, #AllisonKlinger and recently installed in this sacred space.

I grew up in the woods of Pennsylvania, something of a wild child left to roam among the trees and creeks. Outside, among blackberry bushes in the summer and icicles in the winter, I often forged my own secret hideout from fallen branches carefully placed against large rocks. I embellished the interior with objects that were meaningful to me and a comfortable blanket. It was a special place for me. Somewhere to go that was set apart for pondering when I felt pensive or for sheltering when I felt bullied by my three older brothers.

#Sacred means, “set apart,” or “dedicated” for a special purpose. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is this space at St. Mark’s. It is the secret hideout of the hospital. We recently installed stained glass #windows to make that space more beautiful, and I’d like to share with you what I was thinking when I drew those images.

Nature, or Creation, is inherently #spiritual. Perhaps that is, in part, because we come from ground and we all will return to the earth someday. That is a sober thought, and a fitting one, I think, because a hospital is often a sober place. People come to the chapel seeking solace or silence; they pour out their laments and prayers. When I designed these windows, I wanted them to be welcoming to all people, transcending any creeds, because #Love is unconditional. Certainly we all have experienced awe or wonder as we ponder the sky, swim in a lake, or smell the fragrance of pine trees. This reality is echoed in the liturgy often recited in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd which speaks of ”sun, moon, stars, earth, wind, water and every living thing.” The windows depict not only the passage of time from day until night, but also the varied height and depth of lived experience in the hospital; the joy of recovery and the sorrow of loss. Sometimes we know life as radiant #beauty and other times life shatters like pieces of glass. My intent is that the windows offer hope in times of brokenness as well as celebration.

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