While searching for the “perfect” image to grace the cover of my ordination service leaflet, I spent a happy half hour this afternoon taking photos among the stained glass windows of the parish church where I am blessed to serve. I was looking in particular for a dove, but in doing so I realized how many details, messages and stories I had missed in previous tours of our picture-book building. I could have spent hours.
Someone asked me recently about my take on stained-glass windows and other images, and we had a brief conversation about the ways in which non-biblical and non-verbal storytelling reach people in different ways to the reading aloud of Scripture (which I adore) in our liturgies. But just as hearing the Word of God during the service requires listening (however you define “hearing”, “Word of God” and “listening”), so reading the windows requires attentive looking and noticing.
I think that maybe one Lent (perhaps even this one!), I might allow myself to embrace the spiritual discipline of listening to the non-verbal storytelling of our building, and others. What might the authors of these windows describe about their experience of the Divine?