Urban Sanctuary

June has been a month of travelling for me. From the natural beauty of Vancouver to über busy and congested Metro Toronto, I’ve shifted gear and gone from park to overdrive in two short weeks. Quiet garden paths have been replaced by the 12-lane Highway 401, rain forest has turned into concrete jungle. And so I was pleasantly surprised by this serendipitous find right in the heart of downtown Toronto. Amidst the hustle and bustle, I found this sanctuary… literal and spiritual, the Trinity College Chapel on the campus of the University of Toronto:

Every step into the magnificent architecture instills awe and wonder, every artefact a symbol:

Looking back to the choir loft is another stunning view (this photo from Wikipedia):

The painting on the wall in the narthex, a crucifix, is entitled “Mediterranean Christ” by the artist Juan Sala Santonja:


Another joy of discovery is Grace Church On the Hill, Anglican. My expectation of my short sojourn in Toronto had never been stained glass or religious art. But here I was, beholding Biblical themes in beautiful stained glass:

This contemporary wall sculpture created by Catherine Widgery of Montreal juxtaposes well among the stained glass, for its message points to a similar theme:

Entitled “By Her Own Radiant Light”, John Milton’s verse is engraved on a brass plaque beside the installation:

By her own radiant light, though sun and moon

were in the flat sea sunk.

And Wisdom’s self

oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,

Where, with her best nurse


She plumes her feathers,

and lets grow her wings.

The pamphlet beside the art installation conveys the meaning: As the Moon’s illumination is the reflection of the Sun, Christian disciples are reflectors of the Greater Light. The phases of the moon suggest an eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. Loss returns to fullness; darkness becomes light. The fragments of reflected light on water form a triangle below the full moon. Each fragment of light is a single piece of metal, cut and assembled so as to suggest the light’s effect on the surface of the water. At the heart of the circle, the light reflected on the surface is brilliant and intense, and diminishes as it spreads farther from the source.

As someone who’s always drawn to ripples, I spotted this installation right away as I entered the  sanctuary. Reading Milton’s verse and the explanation of the art work helped me gain a deeper appreciation of the visual symbolism.

No rain forests and greenery, but I was drawn to explore another landscape, one where art and imagination formed a bridge towards the unseen and spiritual, no less powerful in bringing out the wonders of creation and the Creator, the Source of Light and Wisdom.


CLICK HERE to watch a video clip with visual artist Catherine Widgery

PHOTOS: All photos were taken by Arti of Ripple Effects except the one noted from Wikipedia. Arti’s photos taken in June, 2011. All Rights Reserved.