Sacred Spaces: Reflections on the Chapel of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving square stained glass, dallas, tx
The stained-glass spire of Thanks-Giving Chapel.

Sacred Spaces #1

Reflections on Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas, Texas;  a spiritual stained glass cinnamon roll

By: Kyle Desrosiers

A few days ago, I took the TRE into downtown Dallas with my brother and his girlfriend. They are visiting from Thailand, and I wanted to take them to visit a few museums and landmarks in the city. After a sunny and dry winter, the day we finally made it to Dallas was wet and chilly. No matter; rain adds to the atmosphere of the city.

As we wandered around downtown, we stopped by Thanks-Giving Square. I had seen it before, but at the time, I had no idea what the odd structure and small surrounding park really meant. From the outside, it looks something like a cross between a mid-century stucco UFO and an ammonite. I remember thinking that it was strange for such a structure to exist among the glass-plated sky-scrapers, Subways, and 7-Elevens of downtown Dallas.

dallas tx skyscraper
A nearby sky-scraper.

Thanks-Giving Square, a land-mark in and of itself, is a public non-denominational and interfaith spiritual center contained within a small park. The complex was dedicated in 1976, and its architecture pays homage to the Great Mosque in Samarra, Iraq. The chapel is a tall, white spire. Its walkways curve from the park and reflecting pool below, winding their way up to the chapel. 

The spire rising above a reflecting pool and park.

The chapel contained at the spire's top is simplistically beautiful; glass panels outside of the chapel contain wisdom from various great American faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For example, one held the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: "It is gratefulness which makes the soul great". Every piece of wisdom tied into the theme of gratefulness and thanks-giving, a universal value shared among all the world's faiths.

mosaic at thanksgiving square dallas tx
The Golden Rule; Norman Rockwell

Because the chapel is non-denominational, there is no altar, or central point of worship. Rather, there are rows of chairs forming a semi-circle, soft plush carpet, and the crown of the building: its stained-glass ceiling. The roof-top windows form a single spiral starting on the edges of the ceiling, curving its way to the nautilus center. Beautiful colored light bathes the entire place, adding to the air of peace.

On that gloomy day in Dallas, I entered the chapel for the first time. In the corner, a man was already praying. He bowed and prostrated in the way of a Muslim. Not wanting to interrupt his worship, we stood at the entrance to the chapel and admired the beautiful colored windows.

The Ring of Thanks

I found a place where visitors were encouraged write messages on paper left near a bulletin board. I wrote about my thankfulness to live in a country that strives to cherish its great spiritual and cultural diversity. I said a prayer, that in the face of uncertainty and bigotry, our shared belief in religious freedom and support for inclusivity shall linger eternal in our laws and national conscience.

Thanksgiving Square, outside of the Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, TX

Thanks-Giving Square is home to a variety of interfaith and spiritual events throughout the year. You can learn more at the official website:

Give thanks. A view from the reflecting pool.

Read More about the Chapel of Thanksgiving on Stained Glass Travel


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