Duke Chapel in Christmas Dress

I darkened the doorstep of the Duke Chapel today expectant to see greenery, poinsettias, and bows. Sure enough, I saw greenery, poinsettias, and bows.


A peek into the nave from the narthex revealed masses of poinsettias near the front (chancel).


A panoramic view of the nave: Duke Chapel is a “cross-shaped church” with a long isle down the middle and perpendicular sections near the front that are called transepts. In this photo, the nativity is on the back wall of the left transept and is framed in pine garland.


My favorite ‘ornament’ was the Advent wreath. For those unfamiliar with the Advent wreath (suspended from the ceiling in this picture), it is comprised of five candles. Four of the candles (often purplish in color) are lit one each week leading up to Christmas. The white candle in the middle is the Christ Candle, which is usually lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.


The circular evergreen upon which the candles rest represents the eternity of God.

Also on display in the Duke Chapel until December 30th is a collection of nine paintings by Robyn Sand Anderson that explores the visual interpretation of scared choral music.

Arts & Health

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso

Throughout the Duke Medical Center in Durham, NC, artwork hangs on walls and in showcases overseen by Duke Arts & Health. One recent display in the Duke Clinics merges visual art with performance art and caught my eye.


A trumpet lamp, a 12-button student accordion, a clarinet lamp, a toy piano, and an Oscar Schmidt autoharp on display in the Duke Clinics in Durham, NC. (I’ve walked by this display case dozens and dozens of times over the years and have never noticed it was even there. It was the clarinet lamp that drew me toward this latest exhibit. I played the woodwind from fourth grade through my first year of college, and will occasionally toot a rusty rendition of Karl L. King’s “Robinson’s Grand Entry” or John Philip Sousa’s “Hands Across the Sea” when the mood strikes.)

A few weeks later, I passed by the display again and noticed it had grown to include harmonicas, sheet music, and a German hunting horn. Intriguing!



A Hohner “Super Chromonica” chromatic harmonica on display at Duke Medical Center (Durham, NC).


A German Hunting Horn on display in the Duke Clinics showcase. (Durham, NC)

But that’s not all. A few weeks later still, I passed by and the display had changed again! This time it included several string instruments, not the least of which was a colorful ukulele.


A couple of guitars, a violin/fiddle, and a ukulele are charming additions to a revolving display of musical instruments in the Duke Clinics (Durham, NC).

In addition to such visual arts displays, the Duke Arts & Health department hosts lunchtime concerts on the Trent Semans Plaza, as well as music throughout the medical units, in waiting areas, and at bedsides. (Much of this music is thanks to professional musicians in residence and volunteer Duke student musicians.)


A musician plays the accordion in a busy thoroughfare near the cafeteria. — Duke University Hospital; Durham, NC

The exhibits and the concerts are free to the public. The enjoyment they bring is priceless.

Wednesday’s Word: Cynosure

Cynosure, (pronounced either sine-eh-shur or sin-ne-shur), is a noun that means focal point or center of attraction.  It can also mean a guide.  In the latter sense, the North Star is an example of a Cynosure.  In the (rather grainy, sorry!) photo below, the butterfly (I hope!) is the cynosure, or point of focus.

This particular butterfly sculpture is a cynosure of art located outside the Boonsboro Free Library. It is entitled “Flight of Ulysses” and is one of two “Take Flight” butterfly sculptures that grace my hometown of Boonsboro, Maryland.  These and other butterfly sculptures around the Hagerstown (MD) area are designed to “benefit the Barbara Ingram School of the Arts and celebrate community transformation.”[1]

“Flight of Ulysses” on the front lawn of the Boonsboro Free Library (Boonsboro, MD)

[1] http://www.hagerstownmagazine.com/articleDetail.aspx?id=1122