I’ve been in Houston for a couple of days on a work trip – it was an easy, peaceful drive here on Wednesday (I FINALLY got around to listening to the first season of ‘Serial’, and OMG am I hooked! LOVE it!!), I had a great walk around and shop at the Galleria (which is right across the street from my hotel), my conference sessions have been tolerable…it’s been a pretty decent time. I decided to spend my Thursday evening exploring Houston’s Museum District, and am I ever glad I did! WOW!! I can’t wait to come back!! Have you been?
I started at the Rothko Chapel, where something very strange happened. Are you familiar with this place? If not, here’s a brief description:
The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas, founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko. The shape of the building, an octagon inscribed in a Greek cross, and the design of the chapel was largely influenced by the artist.
Susan J. Barnes states “The Rothko Chapel…became the world’s first broadly ecumenical center, a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none. It became a center for international cultural, religious, and philosophical exchanges, for colloquia and performances. And it became a place of private prayer for individuals of all faiths”
On September 16, 2000, the Rothko Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
I entered the octagonal room and found a bunch of benches, and a few people in the room, some on the benches and one on the floor. It was absolutely quiet. I took a seat on one of the benches, picked a direction to face, and got comfortable – I wasn’t prepared for what happened to me next. I lowered my head and closed my eyes, and just sat. About 2579 thoughts roared through my head (as per usual), but then they slowed down…and nearly stopped. I’ve never experienced this before. I felt instantly uncomfortable, as if I could smell smoke somewhere nearby and needed to get out of the way of an impending inferno – but I didn’t move. I didn’t even open my eyes. I kept sitting there, thinking about all of the things that have been going on lately, and what I can do to change them. Then I started thinking about all of the good things that I have going on – and that was when the tears started. I still didn’t open my eyes or raise, my head – I just sat there, head down, moisture leaking out the sides of my eyes and dropping onto the floor. For whatever reason, this starkly simple, small room had somehow affected me in much grander ways…I’m still struggling to explain the experience.
Once I pulled myself together, I sat up and opened my eyes – new people had joined us in the chapel, and I hadn’t even heard the doors open. I studied all of the paintings, moving a complete 360, to ensure that I had the chance to look at each one – and then I silently collected my belongings, and left. As I walked out of the chapel, I felt a calm and peace that I have rarely felt in my life…I think some of it is still lingering. What an absolutely magical place..and I’m hard-pressed to explain exactly where the magic came from.
From there, I moved on to the Museum of Fine Arts – what a gorgeous institution! It was open until 9:00pm on Thursday nights (woohoo!), and it was FREE! Double Woohoo! I LOVED this museum, and wish I’d had the time to explore the entire collection – but now I have an excuse to come back! I focused my efforts on the Impressionists (of course), and I found some true beauties! LOVE!!!! Here’s just a couple:
I loved my trip to this museum so much, I can’t even tell you! It reminded me of visiting museums in Paris, London or New York (I don’t mean to be a name dropper, but it’s true!) – I can’t wait to plan a weekend here, and come back with the Wee Muppet! 🙂 Yaaa! 🙂
I’ve always had a rather negative opinion of Houston (too hot, too humid, too crowded, etc) – but I need to seriously revise my opinion. Yes, it is all of those things – but it is SO MUCH MORE….I can’t wait to come back and see what other treasures I can find! 🙂