Thanks Giving Square is an urban garden in downtown Dallas. Set fifteen feet below ground level with a four foot wall blocking the sound of cars and the Dart rail that run near by, it is meditative and serene space that inspires gratitude. Thanks Giving Square Dallas is not on most people’s must visit spots when visiting the city but I think it should be. It was built because a few business men wanted the city of Dallas to be known for not only for its economic accomplishments but also the kind soul and enduring heart of its citizens. We like to visit the square over Thanksgiving break and if you live in Dallas or visit Dallas you should add this landmark to you list.
Thanksgiving is a human universal – it is gratitude in action – Dr Albert Outler
Enter the park through the Court of All Nations which celebrates thanksgiving as a human nature present in all cultures around the world. There are no religious symbols at the square but expressions of Thanksgiving can be seen in engraving and graphic art all around. Walk through the Bell tower and Ring of Thanks – a 14 foot ring made of aluminum and gold while being grateful for life’s blessings.
When visiting the square, don’t miss the Chapel of Thanksgiving, which is the spiritual center of the square. The spiral shaped chapel explores the unity and also represents the diversity of different faith and traditions. It is inspired by the Great Mosque, Iraq. The spiral ceiling contains one of the largest horizontally mounted stained glass windows in the world. The window aptly called Glory Window was designed by French artist Gabriel Loire in his workshop in Chartres, France ( known for the famous Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres and the beautiful Rose windows).
Artwork by artist Bjørn Wiinblad inside the chapel
Glory Window and the stained glasses
The 73 panels of faceted glass features warmer and brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex in the center. Lower panels feature shades of blue which are meant to represent peace. As the spiral continues inwards and upwards, the colors become warmer and brighter until reaching the center where 60 feet above the floor the panels give way to a circle of beaming yellow light. Loire meant this progression to express life with its difficulties, it joys and various aspects culminating to a point of light at its summit. The concept reminded me of the stained glass windows by Gaudi at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The window appears in a shot in director Terrence Malick’s 2011 film The Tree of Life and was also chosen for the United Nations stamp in 2000 during the International Year of Thanksgiving. I wish more people in the Dallas area appreciate this beautiful space and what it signifies.
The chapel hosts intimate prayer services, concerts, wedding and special events and visitors of all faith are welcome to enter. The spiral ramp – leads down to the city and back into the world. In a society that is recently seeing a big rise in xenophobia, the square is powerful place to bring kids to teach them differences does not have to mean discrimination. It can teach them that all the different cultures and ways of life lead to one ultimate path, to be a better version of yourself. Shift the focus from finding differences in physical, cultural, social, religious or political views and find harmony and understanding. Lets strive to have empathy for everyone and find Unity in diversity.
The small serene grove area with trees sporting fall leaves and a fountain, was a meditative space that had me contemplating things I’m thankful for this year, beyond good health, family and friends – more about that soon. What are you thankful for this year? I leave you with a quote I found on the wall at the Thanks giving square.
Gratitude turns what we have into enough – Buddhist Proverb