In the wee hours of the morning right before the doors of the Hot Springs National Park visitor center open to the curious public, something special happens. Around 7:30 when the sun is just beginning to shine for the day, the rays stream in to the empty but elegant men’s bath hall through one of the most spectacular and ornate stained glass designed in the world.
The art piece is titled “Neptune’s Daughter”and was created by the Condie-Neal glass company around 1914-1915. It contains over 8,000 pieces to depict the splendor of the god of water. The reason this beautiful piece was put in was to highlight the extravagance of the peak of the bathing periods which resulted in the success of “Spa City” or Hot Springs, as it is known today.
Since the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was focused completely around the water, both in business and recreation, it makes sense that the stained glass was created to honor the water god. Neptune (also known as Poseidon) is not only the god of the oceans, but of natural spring water as well. The animal most associated with Neptune is the horse, which is coincidental because racing was and is a big part of the city today.
Every morning before we unlock the doors, I walk in, sit down, look up, and completely soak in the beauty of this work. Both with my heart and with my mind. I’ve found that the longer you look, the more you will find!! The ocean shown begins to look like a rose with layers upon layers of petals. And the vegetation begins to look like veins in an arm. My personal favorites are the little frogs and bubbles that are often overlooked.
Many visitors pass though this room without even looking up — I even didn’t really see it when I first stepped into the room. It’s a gentle reminder to take time to stop and appreciate the unexpected beauty that surrounds us all. Sometimes in our fast-paced society, all we are concerned about is the next thing we have to do, instead of what we are doing at the current moment. That’s why it is so important to simply be still. Let the resource speak. And try to learn from it.