The Cathedral of St John the Divine is one of my absolute favourite spots in New York. I first discovered it on a lazy Sunday afternoon walk with Andrew on one of first dates. For this reason, as well as it’s sheer beauty, it holds a special place for me. The cathedral itself is awe inspiring, as the largest Gothic structure in North America, it sets a reverent tone from the start. In the Upper West Side, right on Amsterdam, it became one of my favourite spots to visit, light a candle, or just be quiet.
One of my favourite parts of this cathedral is just outside – The Peace Fountain by sculptor Greg Wyatt, the sculptor-in-residence at the Cathedral.
Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world’s opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace.
When the fountain operates, four courses of water cascade down the freedom pedestal into a maelstrom evoking the primordial chaos of Earth. Foursquare around the base, flames of freedom rise in witness to the future. Ascending from the pool, the freedom pedestal is shaped like the double helix of DNA, the key molecule of life. Atop the pedestal a giant crab reminds us of life’s origins in sea and struggle. Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East. The swirls encircling the heavenly bodies bespeak the larger movements of the cosmos with which earthly life is continuous.
Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals—nestle and prance about the center. One rests its head on the bosom of the winged Archangel Michael, described in the bible as the leader of the heavenly host against the forces of Evil. St. Michael’s sword is vanquishing his chief opponent, Satan, whose decapitated figure plunges into the depths, his head dangling beneath the crab’s claw. Tucked away next to the Sun, a lion and lamb relax together in the peace of God’s kingdom, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.