Pandemic Despair to Wholistic Integration: Francis Ring by Sung Sohn
The Francis Ring is a restoration garden project at Myra House in Claremont, California. It was made from spiral shaped rock and utilizes polyculture companion planting, mixing medicinal, culinary, and flowering plants with water-saving succulents. A statue of St. Francis stands in the center.
My interest was first sparked as I grew familiar with Whiteheadian views on beauty and I began to reflect on an eco-aesthetic view for our built environment, determined to carry on this intensive labor requiring project. With adjacent kids’ sand playground, it took almost 5 months for its completion since started in the middle of February this year. During this stay home—intensely uncertain, anxious time and a withdrawal from seeing patients at my acupuncture clinic, it was a solitary, enduring work process that I poured my physical labor into during the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
The spiral shape is generally a symbol of the cycle of change, progression, and development and new birth, as shown from a cactus flower to a spiral galaxy. It is a metaphor for the passage of time—birth, death and rebirth. And the upward-moving spiral form represents a metaphor of being “grounded” on earth moving “upward”, evolving in human complexity and value as immanent in our emotional mental bodily experience. The circular form signifies a sense of wholeness, and its contents present a compact expression of “subjective-objective” phenomena both in contemplation of meaning and engaging in activity. The organic form acts as a sign of physiology that can lift participants to aesthetic and contemplative thinking, possibly connecting with the Whiteheadian notion—that meaning resides in the co-dependency and relationship of all things in a world that is derived from common geometric relationships.
Sung Sohn is a holistic health educator, California licensed acupuncturist, practical theologian, socio-cultural, environmental architect and ecological/sustainable design consultant. Sung received his Ph.D. from the Practical Theology Department at Claremont School of Theology. He is the founder of Myra House Holistic Living Center (2001), Ecoterra (2007) and Acology Institute (2008). Sung was a UMC minister and served the Pacific UMC as the senior pastor, and he now practices acupunctural and herbal treatment, remaining an independent clergy member. He has taught at the LA Korean Methodist Seminary and lead various workshops and seminars as a visiting lecturer.