If Houston were to have an official sacred space, it would probably be the Rothko Chapel. Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil and dedicated in 1971, the chapel holds 14 paintings by Mark Rothko on its eight walls. A place of cool stillness, where muted sunlight from the skylight illuminates the rich, dark paintings, the chapel is beholden to no one religion, yet seems to connect with all of them.
A simple room with wooden benches that face into the center of the space, it might seem plain except for the light of the sky. Designed by renowned contemporary artist James Turrell, the ceiling opens up to allow the sky into the room. The Meeting House is open to the public every Friday, thirty minutes before sunset. Go, sit, and watch as the ceiling frames the sunset like a piece of art, yet the sky flows into the room to meet you.
Take a walk into the Chapel of St. Basil's labyrinth on the University of St. Thomas campus. An image found in many ancient cultures, a labyrinth is a path walked to find the center. Today, they are used for meditation and contemplation. The St. Thomas labyrinth is modeled after the medieval Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France. Unlike mazes that allow the walker to become confused and lost, for classical and medieval labyrinths, there is only one way in and one way out, yet there are many twists and turns along its path to the center. Like life, completing the walk is not the objective. The experience and knowledge gained along the journey is everything.
Take a turn onto Avenue E in Stafford and suddenly strip malls and housing subdivisions give way to the beautiful and startling white domes and pillars of the Hindu Mandir. Pieces of this scared temple were hand carved in India from Italian marble and Turkish limestone and then brought to Texas for assembly. Standing inside the mandir and looking up into the beautiful patterns hand-carved into the inside of the domes might give visitors vertigo, as they are given a glimpse into the infinite.
There might be debate about what church is Houston’s oldest, but Christ Church had the first congregation in 1839 and the same location in downtown since it was founded. Looking like an ancient European cathedral in the middle of modern downtown Houston, the interior of wood and multicolored stained glass windows provides a place of peace amid the vibrant chaos of the city streets. Though a fire in 1938 destroyed much of the original roof and chancel, the beautiful rood screen was saved and still stands today. Throughout the year, concerts and evensongs, open to everyone, fill this sacred space with sacred music