Friday, July 15, 2011

Wayfarers' Chapel

Yesterday's picture was--of course--the Wayfarers' Chapel in Palos Verdes. As stated, this was my first visit, but not the last.

The first thing to know about this place is that It Is What It Says It Is.

It is a Wayfarers Chapel. It's not a roadside attraction, a bizarre sideshow, a piece of history, or anything like that. As beautiful and photogenic as the Wayfarers' Chapel is, it's primarily a place for a traveler to take a spiritual break.

Inside, there is a fountain, benches, soft new-age music, and views of trees and sky through every window...quite an accomplishment, since the entire chapel is made of glass. Visitors sit and ponder or meditate or just relax. And that's all. Isn't that wonderful?

Well, let's state the obvious: The chapel sits on a hillside overlooking Portuguese Bend in a neighborhood composed of well-placed mansions. If you group together all the frustrated drivers on LA's freeways (especially this weekend), chances are none of them are driving along Palos Verdes Drive West South, where this sanctuary beckons. So the wayfarers who stop here are already enjoying fresh air and coastal views, as opposed to sitting in gridlock smelling exhaust and fuming. The Wayfarers' Chapel is the architectural equivalent of preaching to the choir.

THe chapel is dedicated to Emmanuel Swedenborg, and its building was sponsored by the Swedenborgian Church in 1951. Swedenborg was an 18th century scientist and mystic. You can read more about Swedenborg's teachings here, in an article on the Huffington Post, or on any number of churchy sites, like here. And on Wikipedia, of course. His spiritual ideas sound very similar to Dr. Wayne Dyer's, but he was also a noted scientist.

Lloyd Wright, son of Frank, designed the "tree chapel," inspired by the redwood forests up north. The chapel uses thirty 60-degree angles in its form, because that measure occurs very naturally in snowflakes, crystals, and branches. The tree framed by the large circle at right is a toyon or Christmasberry tree, native to California.

An interesting bit of trivia: when the cornerstone was dedicated in 1949 (62 years ago as of tomorrow, July 16h), actor Charles Laughton read the 107th Psalm. I know I've seen a picture of that ceremony but can't find it right now.

In recompense, here is a picture from the grounds around the chapel, of Portuguese Point and Abalone Cove. Lloyd Wright directed the planting of the trees, so the look of the place has changed over the decades and some trees are just now reaching maturity.


Art in Torrance said...

Isn't the chapel on PV Drive South? I enjoy your posts ... keep them coming!

Vix said...

Yes, you are quite right and I made the correction. How embarassing...although, followed a few miles further, PV Drive South DOES become PV Drive West.

Art in Torrance said...

PV Drive N W and S are pretty much the same road. PV Drve E is definitely distinct in that you have to turn onto it.

Thanks for updating your post!

Judy said...

Great pix, Vix!