A day for meditation…

I decided this morning that I needed to go to Houston to the Rothko Chapel – a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years. I Googled it again this morning, just to refresh my memory, and to get an address for Vanessa the GPS gal. After yesterday’s post – filled with all my kvetching about lack of connections, small towns that don’t exist, and yada, yada, yada, ad nauseum – the Rothko Chapel was just what I needed. A place of serenity, spirituality, meditation…

Leaving Sulphur was a relief. I think I know why they named it that: the smell of sulphur hangs in the air, and permeated my car for a good 50 miles. (I should have opened the windows and aired it out for a mile.) I have an iPhone app called “Around Me” which gives information on almost anything you could want from coffee to bars and banks – all of which is within a certain many miles radius of your location (5 miles? 20? I don’t really know.)

This morning, I asked it to find coffee (Perks-U-Up Drive-thru Espresso Ba,r 2.8 miles) and the Post Office (Old Post Oak Road, 2.5 miles and off the same road as Perks-U-Up). We got on the road, and along the way to coffee, I noticed (in this order) an ATM for Capital One Bank and a local – yes, LOCAL! – donut shop called Snowflake Donuts. A sign in their window said “Best Kolaches in Town” so I expected the donuts to be GOOD. I didn’t know what Kolaches were at the time, and it didn’t matter. (These were hot dogs wrapped in thick puffy pastry. Not what I wanted at 8:30 in the morning!)

First stop, coffee, then Post Office, where I asked the clerk to hand cancel my postcards. Back to the ATM for cash and on to the donut shop. Guess what? They weren’t beignets, but they were mighty fine donuts! For my friend, Jack: almost as good as Larry’s glazed donuts.

Finally on the road to Houston, on a gorgeous blue sky day. We made good time, Vanessa gave me good directions this time, and we arrived on a quiet side street by the chapel about 11:30. Max and I took a stroll around the neighborhood and through a little park where we met his newest fan, a woman originally from Texas, transplanted to Connecticut, and recently returned to live in Houston.

While he waited in the car, I went into the chapel. I’ve loved Rothko’s use of color fields for as long as I can remember. There’s a painting in the Museum of Modern Art in NY that always brings me to tears. I love the size of his canvasses, and the colors – always so luscious I feel like I could take them inside myself. A few years ago I learned that the 14 paintings in the chapel were done in velvety blacks and purples. Thinking maybe it would be too somber, I had doubts about making a trip to see it.

But, as I said, after the past few days (OK-weeks) I really needed a spiritual experience, which was the reason I decided to go this morning. Also, I knew that if I was this close to Houston and I didn’t go, I’d kick myself before I got to Austin.

It is truly a sacred space. With brilliant sunlight outside, the inside was fairly glowing with light, and the immense panels were so beautiful that I began to cry. I sat on a bench, tears dripping off my chin as I took in the one single panel that is opposite the entrance. Some of my emotion was because of the paintings, but I think a big part was just from the fact that I came here on my own.

In the past 2-1/2 years since Rufus died, I have done so many things on my own, grown and changed in so many ways. And the biggest thing I’ve done is this road trip. Going to the Rothko Chapel was my dream, one that Rufus understood and appreciated, but he had no desire to go to Houston.

So, there I was, sitting in front of that gorgeous painting, seeing visions in its depths, weeping for the new life that I have now and a little bit for the life that is no longer.

When I came out, the sky was just as blue, the air was just as soft and warm, and I felt lighter. I had my dog in the car, and the road in front of us was filled with possibilities.


About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Coffee, Musings, On the Road, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to A day for meditation…

  1. katyallgeyer says:

    Beautiful passage, Maureen. I felt I was there with you. Though I haven’t been to the actual Rothko Chapel, I did experience the next best thing in the National Gallery last April. They had a special exhibition recreating it with Rothko’s paintings and the haunting sound music composed by Morton Feldman to be heard while experiencing the silence of the paintings. In fact, the exhibition closed just January 9th. See this link for more about “In the Tower”: http://bit.ly/epHg9T…Rufus might have enjoyed going to DC to see it. Hugs….

  2. katyallgeyer says:

    oops// not sure how that happened. here is the actual link: http://bit.ly/epHg9T

  3. Diana Richardson says:


  4. Well, you made me cry, too now! Sounds like you had the experience you needed. Heck, I think this entire experience has been one you’ve probably needed for a long time! I’m so glad you got to the chapel–it sounds incredible. I wish you hadn’t had to go through losing Rufus to get to this point–I think he was your muse and inspiration on so many levels. I think about him so often-I wonder if you would ever have come to taking this trip if you’d never met him? He was truly a teacher, even if I didn’t always feel like learning what lesson he was trying to teach! Lol! Xoxo

  5. hank says:

    you are the kind of audience to whom rothko devoted his life and vision

  6. Julia says:

    How I long for Larry’s glazed donuts – even though it now horrifies my vegetarian self to realize he fried those beauties in pure LARD!
    Again, thank you for taking us along for the ride. You are doing something I have always dreamed of doing, but have never had the courage to do. (not to mention a vehicle I would trust to get me to the next town over, let alone across the country!) Go West young woman (and pup)!

  7. guy oliver says:

    Maureen Would believe that I first lived in Houston in 1950 when the population was 500,000 . Again, in 1960 when it was over 1.5 million, then again in 2000 when it became the 4th largest city in the U.S. My beloved wife started her journey to the House of the Lord there just over a year ago. She wanted to be in her new home in St. Louis so I chartered an airjet ambulance plane to fly her to our new home where she passed away 2 hours after arriving . I can understand your loss and making a new life as that is what I am working on. When you leave Austin try to route by way of Kerrville on the Guadalupe River and would recommend a nite at the Inn of The Hills We had a summer condo just behind the Inn and on the river. Beautiful little town and home to a few celebrities and lots of friendly people.

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Guy!! I just can’t find a place you haven’t been or lived! It sounds like you tok good care of your wife oh that we all can have someone that loving with us at the end. I am going to take your advice about going via Kerrville. will google the Inn of the Hills and see if they have room and take dogs. Best of luck to you on your journey through grief – hold fast to your dear memories. Maureen

  8. Ellie Adams says:

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful personal and spiritual experience. It’s all about growth! Now I need to Google the chapel and see if there are pictures for me! Stay safe!

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Ellie, there are pictures, but in my opinion they can’t capture the experience of being in that room with those huge panels. thanks for commenting!

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