My Contemplative Heart: Unending Story
Over Spring Break, we packed up the minivan: 5 people, 3 suitcases, and 3,000 miles in one week. We drove from Dallas, Texas to Washington, D.C. to show our kids the nation’s capital for the very first time.
There were so many memorable moments. I got teary watching my kids stand together in the Lincoln memorial, each reading the Gettysburg address. We were giddy to see the ruby slippers and amazed at the real Declaration of Independence. We got lost, twice, trying to see the Thomas Jefferson memorial. All 5 of us stayed in one hotel room. It was a great trip and there might be a few more blog posts to come about it.
The one thing that has lingered for me, even now 6 weeks after the trip, is the National Cathedral. Now, I am sure there are some who want to argue about separation of church and state as it applies to having a National Cathedral. I’ll invite you to argue about that elsewhere. I was overcome by the beauty of the stained glass windows.
This one is titled “Creation” and the artist set out to capture the feeling of chaos before creation. It is breathtaking! I got lost in absorbing that even the chaos had beauty. After all, God was in the chaos as well.
In each of the chapels, holy stories were depicted in words, statues, and stained glass: the birth of Christ in Bethlehem chapel, the crucifixion and death in Joseph of Arimathea chapel, and then Resurrection chapel. Each were moving and gorgeous to behold. My heart was moved to worship.
But even more than each of these stories, I was struck by the stained glass windows in the main nave that easily mixed biblical story with modern history. Next to Moses and Rachel were Winston Churchill and a bishop from Missouri. At first, I felt uncomfortable with there being modern, secular stories featured along with the 10 commandments. Weren’t the stories of scripture more significant than American history? This was nationalism at its worst!
But when I let my guard down, I felt a sense of connected-ness. My spirit seemed to know that both modern and ancient stories are telling God tales. Did I believe that God had ceased to move among human beings when the Bible had been compiled? Of course not!
The story of humanity is the story of God.
My story is the story of God moving in a particular time and space in history. And so is yours. As Mother Teresa said so beautifully,
“I am a pen in the hand of God.”
Our stories are holy, too. They are a sacred witness to the work that God is doing among us. Our stories can become beautiful art work that inspire other souls to worship.
What will your stained glass window look like?