My life on stained glass

March 24, 2008 | Conversion | 15 comments

Yesterday was only the third or fourth Easter since I came to believe in God. I sat in our church overwhelmed with the joy of someone for whom the Good News is still breaking news.

As I looked around the sanctuary, teeming with life and color, the stained glass windows kept catching my eye. The last time I’d seen them was at night, for the Good Friday service, and the way they now exploded with color in the sunlight made them look like something entirely different than the dark, muted windows I’d seen the night before. That contrast sparked the memory of something…I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

When the choir began to sign the now-familiar Communion hymn, I became overwhelmed with gratitude on so many different levels; and as I wiped a tear out of my eye, I realized what was familiar to me about the dazzling windows:

Stained glass is designed for light. To look at a stained glass window in the dark is to miss the artist’s intent. Its true beauty and full meaning cannot be understood without light pouring through it — the more light, the better. Even someone beholding a stained glass window for the first time could see that it was crafted by a loving, intelligent hand, and that the artist’s sole purpose for creating this object was for it to diffuse light.

My life before God, I realized, was like a stained glass window in the dark. Only now that I have found the Light in which it is meant to be viewed, only now that I understand that the very purpose of my existence is to let as much Light pour through it as possible, do I see it as it was designed to be seen. It is only when I allow Light to shine through the stained glass window of my life that can I see its true, glorious beauty.

15 Comments

  1. Ginkgo100

    Guess what: Even for cradle Catholics, the Good News is still breaking news!

  2. Adoro te Devote

    What a beautiful illumination (pun intended!)

    Blessed Easter to you!

  3. Jonathan

    Where is the picture on the post from? Beautiful stained glass! Happy Easter.

  4. ------- Theo -------

    Beautiful blog.

    I added “Et tu?” to my blogroll of “Sites well worth visiting” just after the start of Lent. It’s good to finally be able to comment here and tell you that your imitation of Christ is appreciated.

    Ginkgo: excellent point. It is still breaking news! That’s part of the glory of our infinite God: Eternity with Him is NOT boring.

    Your bro,
    –Theo

  5. Rebekka

    Lovely.

  6. Kimberly

    What a beautiful analogy. Every time I think of artists in general, it points me back to the Original Artist. I mean….the colors of spring, for instance! Goodness, I certainly couldn’t have thought of that.

    Welcome back to all of our comments!

  7. Rachel

    I found your blog just as lent was starting. I have been patiently waiting for your comments to open up again. I loved your post about how God is love. It was beautiful, and reminded me of my favoriate quote from Les Miserables “To love another person is to see the face of God”. I also just watched the video of the list of reasons to be Catholic. It made me cry. As someone who has been Catholic their whole life, I sometimes forget how nice it is to be Catholic. I have many friends who are nondenominational christians and they critize me for being Catholic a lot, so it is very refreshing to see someone who chose to be Catholic. Thank you for the inspiration you give me every day.

  8. Tausign

    May I insert a Stained Glass story I experienced at my mothers funeral. This is from an email I sent to a Franciscan friend experiencing a similar loss…

    “…She had her funeral mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church, a church I had attended as a youth. It’s almost as large as a cathedral and its has two ‘wings’ near the front which gives it sort of a T or Tau shape. On one side a very large stained glass window depicting St. Francis on Mount Alverna receiving the stigmata.

    “That morning of her funeral it was unusually bright, sunny and warm for end of Jan. At one point I noticed the sun shot through the image of St Francis and Jesus and appeared as a big white circle sort of eclipsing them or ‘white-ing them out due to the brightness. All I could see were the feet of Francis. It kind of had the appearance of a Eucharistic host over the image, if you get my description. I took it in very briefly and returned my attention back to the priest celebrant.

    “But others in the back were quite taken by it and commented to me later that it appeared like a ray or spotlight (very narrow) showering on me and her casket, as I was standing right next to it. I asked my wife if she had noticed the effect from the window and she replied that what she noticed was ‘me looking at the window’ and saw the light shining on me. (she was standing right next to me and was not in the effect).

    “Later that night is when it all hit me. I thought about how it took a very specific ‘timing’ to arrange for that kind of effect: sort of like the perfect alignment need for an eclipse. In a moment it was gone. Had the funeral been held any other day or any other hour for that matter it would not have been observed. The long and the short is that I took it as a distinct sign from Jesus through Francis of their assurance for my mother.”

  9. Melissa

    As a nondenominational Christian who grew up Catholic….you are like a breath of fresh air. I just never “got it”. I love your pursuit of Christ in a personal way. I visited you all through Lent and I just want you to know that I am all for breaking down denominational walls that hold us back from advancing God’s Kingdom!

    And, this post was a great encouragement. Thank you.

  10. Laurel

    Jen,

    Love your blog, and journeyed with you through Lent. I actually admire your choice to close comments….kind of reminded me of how wonderful that first ALLELUIA! sounds after a season of silence.

    Thanks for the beautiful imagery! I, too, love stained glass. As a fellow convert, I am reminded of how a small stained glassed window helped me back to church years ago. Although I went as a child to a Protestant church, most of my life was unchurched….but when my real searching began, I remembered a small stained glass window right above the altar of a white dove on a blue background, with rays of yellow reaching out. I remember sitting as a child just waiting for the sun to hit it just right, and the rays would literally just light up when the sun hit it. That image got me back to church, which eventually led me to a Protestant missionary assignment, and then “home” to Rome.

    And yes, the Good News is still alive and kicking!! Have a blessed Easter season!

  11. Mairin :o)

    Truly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your insights.

  12. Tomcatholic

    This is such a wonderful blog, I’m linking to it immediately. If for some reason you wish I hadn’t, I will remove the link upon request.

  13. Sue

    I too found your blog as Lent was starting or in the middle … I can’t remember who it was on my blogroll who linked here, but I am realy enjoying what I have read so far 🙂

    That pic is just breathtaking and I love the analogy. We are all stained glass windows – beautiful 🙂

  14. Stained Glass

    I agree with you, we are all like stained glass in the dark until we find the light. If we believe in God, we will shine in his light and our reflection will bring happiness not only to us but all. The image of the stained glass is very beautiful.

  15. Mike Walsh, MM

    Here is my introduction, for what it’s worth, to a little booklet about the windows in our chapel at Maryknoll, NY:

    Stained glass windows have been used for over a thousand years to adorn churches and to illustrate the faith. Far from being a means solely to instruct the illiterate (as some iconoclasts would have it) such windows illuminate more than just the stories they depict and the chapels they adorn. They touch us on a fundamental, physical level as they dapple us with color, reminding us that our Lord is God incarnate, and lived in the same world, was warmed by the same sun, and enjoyed the same beauty as we do, the very colors proclaiming the glory of God.

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