Friday, October 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Square, Dallas

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Psalm 100:4

Downtown Dallas -- This morning, we were walking around Downtown Dallas when we discovered Thanks-giving square:
Thanks-Giving Square is a beautiful three-acre park, chapel and museum in the heart of downtown Dallas with a setting to inspire gratitude. The park is an oasis for our city’s growing residential life, as well as a daily spot to hear rushing water and a respite for professionals who work in the nearby high-rise office buildings. Our chapel has a unique spiral exterior designed by world-famous architect Philip Johnson and an interior spiral of 73 stained-glass panels created by French artist Gabriel Loire. The museum is a rare compilation of historical documentation around Thanksgiving, as it takes place all over the world, but especially in the United States, dating back to the Continental Congress.
The plaza begins with a prayer wall, and continues with displays of previous thanksgiving displays throughout American History:

In 1964, four Dallas businessmen started to fill a void in the city. They thought back to the great centers of the Ancient World with its squares, hubs of community, gathering places devoted to spirit and worship, and to all that takes humans beyond themselves.

They modified this ancient idea into one that fit our society, one with much greater tolerance and diversity: thanksgiving, the act of giving thanks to the Creator for the gift of life while recognizing the gift of consciousness and care for others. They wanted this city to be known not for its grandeur or its economic prowess, which can change so quickly, but for its heart, which is much more constant. What started as a simple park turned into a center of value, thought, and spirituality that has had an impact not only in this community but in the country and the world.

Those who worked on what is now known as Thanks-Giving Square, emphasizing “giving and living thanks,” helped make Dallas one of the few cities to witness the unification of races without violence. At the same time, they discovered thanksgiving was a ‘human universal’ found in all cultures and faiths throughout the planet. As they learned and gathered knowledge, the park they had first envisioned grew to encompass this uplifting concept. When they found an architect, the famous Philip Johnson, to build the space, they were able to tell him the chapel he initially proposed, a square, did not quite convey the idea. Their words inspired Johnson to construct the distinctive spiral Chapel of Thanksgiving this city holds so dear.

Before the Square was completed, Anne Armstrong, who later became the first female ambassador to the Court of St. James, was enlisted to present a book of all the Presidential Thanksgiving and Prayer Proclamations to President Gerald Ford. As a result, Thanks-Giving Square started being asked to provide a draft for the annual Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving. In a letter from the White House, President Ford called the rising physical Thanks-Giving Square “a great national shrine.”

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