Advent 2022

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent: Masts & Covenants

An Image Reflection for the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent

STM's staff will share an image and reflect on it each Saturday. Today, Sarah writes about God's covenant and the white oak laminated beams that hold up the glass ceiling in the Golden Center's courtyard.  

Fourth Sat

After you walk into the Golden Center and greet Dawn, or one of our kind security guards, look up and ahead of you. There you will see white oak beams of laminated wood helping to support the heavy, paneled glass ceiling of the courtyard. There are four in total and were created by Maurice Rhude, the former owner of Sentinel Structures in Peshtigo, WI. Rhude had a lot of experience working with such large, load-bearing beams of white oak. And, throughout his career, he created similar pieces for the U.S. Navy, often outfitting their minesweeping boats.

The beams have a graceful, quiet heft to them as they run horizontally from the entrance of the courtyard to the patio overlooking the Riggs Garden. And I often like to imagine that if they were vertical, they could be masts that stand firm in the stormy waves of the open ocean—or even in the higher storm waves of one of the Great Lakes.

Sailing vessels are prominent in early Christian symbolism, often found on catacomb walls and in the Bible. Noah’s ark, St. Peter’s fishing boat and others, are visual assurances that God—and Jesus—are present to the Church as it navigates unknown seas. God’s covenant with the faithful is ever strong and God has built a shelter for us to trust in. Today’s readings also reflect the presence of God’s covenant showing up quietly and strongly as we navigate the calm and the storms in our daily lives. We see how God promised safety and prosperity to David and how Zachariah recognizes that safety and prosperity in the work his son John the Baptist will do in preparing the way for Jesus. I love how these readings span time and place, calling out and answering each other as those faithful to God move through lives that bring both joys and heartbreaks—just like a boat on the water sending out sonar to avoid sandbars and treacherous coastlines.

And for us at STM, though these masts overhead do not stand in the midst of ocean spray or a Great Lake gale, they do help to build a space that welcomes and supports those who study and mingle beneath it. They are the silent, sturdy guardians of a shelter that will always make a Catholic presence at Yale University present, every-welcoming and strong.

Sarah Woodford '10 M.Div.

Sarah Woodford '10 M.Div.

Sarah is the Director of The Vincent Library at STM.