Danah Cox is a Renaissance man. Gifted artist, minister, storyteller, chef and computer wizard. And he's in the throes of starting a new thing at St. Andrews Centre
in south Calgary. The centre is a new incarnation of St. Andrew's United Church and strives to be open to religious as well as "spiritual, but not religious" people.
I visited Danah at the centre this summer. First, he offered me his handmade, gourmet appetizers. Then, he offered a story.
It all began in New Orleans. Although he had been "born in and bred in the church," he had dismissed all that and, for decades, was a declared atheist. He became an artist and a waiter at Antoinnes, an upscale French restaurant in New Orleans. He married and became a parent. In typical fashion, time and energy for art evaporated. He sailed along until suddenly, his relationship ended. He panicked.
Surprisingly, Danah's art became the vehicle for his salvation — in many ways. Initially, he felt the desire to return to portraiture. Looking for models, he started painting in a residence for impoverished seniors. "Artists do this sometimes when they can't afford to hire models but need the practice." Usually, one paints and then gives the painting to the model. And that's where the transformation began. Studying and drawing the lifelines of the elderly, and feeling drawn into their eyes opened something in Danah's heart. He began looking for "something larger" in his life. Art carried him toward it.