Professor Monty Williams travels the globe offering lectures, seminars, retreats. He says he often receives wonderful token of appreciation from the people he visits and one of his most recent gifts now hangs in the circular stairwell at Regis College for everyone to enjoy and experience.
It was in the Li Jiang, the foothills of the Himalayas in the summer of 2011 in a feudal house that Monty saw a wonderful small silk painting of the lotus flower with a red dragonfly on it. He was taken by the beauty and artistry of the work and decided to find something like it. He began by purchasing buying two rice paper washes of lotus flowers created by a rising calligraphic artist in China. They hang in Monty’s office.
After writing to a friend in Hong Kong about his search, he was presented with a phenomenal painting created by a noted artist in Macau. The painting titled, Flowering Lotus with Dragonfly, was sent from Macau to Hong Kong where it was mounted on a scroll and presented to Monty. The artist and the benefactors wish to remain anonymous. Monty says that Flowering Lotus with Dragonfly is in gratitude for the benefactors of Regis College whose generosity allows an incarnate spirituality for today.
Monty says that this Zen painting of the lotus represents enlightenment--the flower rises from the muck, blooms and then dies. But in its blooming it attracts dragonflies who also have a short life. He says that we are like the dragon fly that is attracted to certain manifestations of enlightenment which arise from the muck of life.
Monty donated the painting to Regis College, “It came to me in my prayer, how like the dragonfly Regis is ... attracted to enlightenment ... and how in these times of impermanence there is life and beauty and delight and they need to be acknowledged, witnessed to and celebrated.”
The following words are inscribed as part of the artwork:
Beautiful, Tranquil, Standing
When a thought is pure
Lotus blossoms everywhere
A flower, a piece of pure land
A piece of pure land, a Tathagata (Buddha)
Regis College is the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto and a Founding Member of the Toronto School of Theology.
Members of the public interested in theological education are invited to attend an open house in October and March each year.