• Rev. Steven R. Giddens

A Reflection on Stained Glass:

Love and Light.




While representing my church at PRIDE in 2016, I stumbled across a very beautiful piece of artwork. A vendor was selling his stained glass pieces of art. One piece in particular that caught my eye was a heart he had made using the pride colors. At first, I wasn't sure if this piece was for sale and so I inquired about it remarking on its beauty; the colors of the rainbow, which was the first sign, a promise from God to humans, now used in pride events worldwide. Could this too be a sign that God was wrong? Or, that we understood God's intention wrong? When displayed in the heart it shows love shining through. He told me that the colors were intentional but he only in associating it with pride. I told him that I loved how he used stained glass and that it reminded me of churches using the glass to explain the Holy Spirit and the transcendence of God. Each color from light to dark still allows light to come through it and we can never truly hide who or what we are from God because the love of God still shines through. He then told me that it was discounted because it had holes in it, which I saw immediately and thought were intentional. When I said, "So they're not intentional?" He replied with a short quip about how all of his pieces end up with holes. I took a deep breath and told him I knew what he meant. I offered, "Sometimes our hearts get broken and we work really hard to find the pieces or any piece really that will fit to mend it but we're still left with holes and we feel empty or not quite complete. But as the light comes through even the darkest and smallest corners of the glass it too comes from the holes and those holes are where the most light comes in. It's because of that brighter light that we are reminded of what had transpired, we remember what had happened and what we did to try and repair it, and since the most light comes through those holes allowing us to see more clearly those hidden and empty parts of ourselves we see that they were necessary, needed, and even allowed us to learn about our new selves. We shouldn't be ashamed of holes because they are proof that we live and work in this world. They are proof that we exist, we matter, and we are still here. We should simply acknowledge that 'yes', something happened here and I have been remade but I am still whole and now I see with better clarity.” The man smiled as he wrapped the heart for me and I proudly display it in my home and offer this reflection every chance I get. My previous church is blessed with remarkably beautiful stained glass windows, as are many older churches. Often times they go unnoticed and unappreciated. The stained glass used to be a way for the Church to educate catechumens about the history and theology of the Church. Since the glass is expensive and requires exhaustive labor, great care and diligence in planning go into designing the windows and the stories they will tell when they’re completed. The stories are ours through ancestral faith and are our inheritance by tradition. We should know the stories of our windows in the same way that we know the stories of our crazy great-aunt or other family gossips, traditions, and secret family stories. Our stained glass windows are quite literally our windows to the world. Those who look through them see the world in different colors and hues. On the outside they can be confusing and have shapes that are strange or unknown to passersby but inside, inside we see the true colors shining through. Every color of the rainbow has been melted, molded, broken, and welded into a much more beautiful and perfect whole. What was once a shattered life of red is now Jesus' robe, the tarnished battered white becomes the Easter lily. Parts from all over the community gather together the same as we do in the pews, each of us with our own colors and shapes coming together to become a larger, more perfect, and complete whole. The light that shines from without comes through no matter the size of the piece or the darkness of its shade because Jesus' love can penetrate even the smallest and darkest recesses of our own hearts. And, we should not be afraid of the holes, we should know them and accept them as your own because this is where Jesus is working the most, this is where the most light comes in and shows us the way.