Stained glass has always fascinated me. I love the way the light breaks through the colors, stretching different hues across the walls and floor and ceiling. The Man and I visited the Chihuly Gardens while we were in Seattle. It was a fantastic exhibit with the contrast of dark and light, the use of reflections, and the joining of the man-made into the natural world.
About halfway through the tour, we watched a video showing how Dale Chihuly and his team created these masterpieces of art. Some of them, when assembled, are enormous, much bigger than they could've been had they been created from a single piece of blown glass. Hundreds of unique pieces joined together, sometimes hung precariously, to create an awe-inspiring work of art.
To me, this is the Church as it should be. All of us different, blown with God's own breath into unique shapes, tinted with our own colors, and connected into one expression of beauty.
I don't necessarily think this is a bad analogy for the Church. But in reality, it seems like we are much closer to traditional stained glass than we are these perfectly sculpted Chihuly pieces. We are broken. We are made of shards of glass that would've been litter to a lesser artist. We are pasted together with glue and boiling metal. It is a painful reality, and one that we may not understand fully.
In those moments, we do not see the masterpiece. We cannot even glimpse the finished product. We are wholly overwhelmed by the pain of the breaking and the heat of the joining. The Artist's face seems far away at best, coldly unconcerned at worst. We ask ourself where the beauty is and what happened to the purpose.
And then the light breaks through the window, and we may not see ourselves as we are or as we used to be, but we see the sun beams, split into a thousand colors, filling the room with glory.
Stained glass may have other meanings to other people, but to me it reminds me that my brokenness (and maybe your brokenness too) will be used for beauty. It may not be my beauty--after all, what am I but a broken shard of colored glass?--but when the sun comes up and the light floods in...
...there is the breath-taking wonder of hope in new life.