I am 18. Sitting calmly, quietly. Looking up at the stained glass windows and the light shining through. The particles of dust visible in the light rays, suspended, dancing. Listening to the priest, his slurred French, running the words from a ceremony he’d likely performed hundreds of times before, I knew I wouldn’t experience this again. This light. This church, full of sacred history, strength. It was Notre-Dame after all. En Paris! How will I ever fully explain the beauty of this moment? There are no words. No emotions. Just the overwhelming feeling of divine grace, shining through these stained glass windows, blessing me.
I am 22. The tears stream down my face, falling like a waterfall. Heavy. Full. As we begin to sing Amazing Grace, I feel the weight of my grief settle into my body. To gain a full breath of air, I lift my chin up toward the sky. As if to gasp. As if to plead. My eyes meet the shine of the stained glass windows. The blues. And yellows. Of course the yellows, I think. And my breath moves further away from my body. I place my chin down again, only to watch the puddle of tears fall upon the program I crinkle in my hands. Her picture. She’s gone.
I am 30. We are navigating. The scuffling of the sand on the dirt against our shoes. Lost. A getaway. To rediscover, redefine, renew. And we’re lost. Fitting. I wander through the grape vines and benches to a small door. Afraid to open it, I peek in, slowly. I am awe struck. The light of the windows shines on the pews below. I tip toe in. Kneel in the light. Pray for strength. As I sit back, a calmness settles me. Stillness. We found it. I found it. I am not lost.
I am 37. I stand tall to catch my breath as we pause for a moment. A beautiful day, a walk through the neighborhood. My husband and dog on one side. My son on the other. We look up at the windows. This time from the outside. I feel the source of the light now. My hands reach out for connection as we decide to continue walking. I look back at the windows, and I thank them for helping me find the truth. I know where the light resides.
These are four short encounters with stained glass windows in my life. Moments and blessings of shining light. Inspired by the quote mentioned in Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.”
Do you know where the light shines? Can you feel it within?