Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Tree of Life” by John Steczynski

Photograph of three large cloth paintings behind an altar, depicting a large tree, with animals and birds around it, against a blue sky.

“Tree of Life” by John Steczynski. Photo by Chris Pollari.

Artist and Boston College professor John Steczynski explained that this Tree of Life banner was the result of an extended conversation he had with the Rev. Connie Parvey, a pastor of University Lutheran from 1972 to 1978. “My first impulse for a Pentecost hanging was to do a variation on the traditional burst of flames. But Connie pointed out for me that it would not be used just for the feast day, but for the entire season. It constitutes both the longest liturgical period and the season of ordinary time, that which refers to the present time in Christian history. It encompasses the entire summer together with the periods preceding and succeeding it, a time when the greatest number of weddings and christenings take place. The hanging should celebrate all of this. . . . Once a broader focus had been established, it did not take long to settle on an image. And while it certainly made reference to the early Christian Tree of Life, it was more directly inspired by an experience in the Ozarks, where I was shown a spring literally bubbling up through the roots of a huge tree.”