Shining Through The Glass


Detail of the Transfiguration Window at St John the Evangelist, Hedge End

Detail of the Transfiguration Window at St John the Evangelist, Hedge End

One of the most beautiful and interesting crafts is that of creating stained glass. Over the years I have visited a great many cathedrals in which this art form has been displayed in the incredible and intricate windows that allow light to enter in a myriad of rainbow hues; but I’ve never really been able to capture with my simple ordinary camera, the extraordinary details and colours that my eyes can discern, of those high and lofty kaleidoscopes.

Even small country churches have their own special windows, and closer to home the church at St John the Evangelist, Hedge End has several, including a series of six tableaux of the life of Christ in the curved apse at its East end. In other windows around the church, these Victorian masterpieces in glass work also tell the stories of the saints whose names are lent to the church building.

St John the Evangelist Window with close up details of the serpent in the chalice

St John the Evangelist with details of the serpent in the chalice

However, as intricate and as detailed as the windows are, it is not really this aspect that fascinates me, but rather the effect they produce as light shines through them; when it falls on white walls and altar linen, the pools of colours shimmering in mirror image

Stained glass reflections

Stained glass reflections

But it is also most effective when everyday objects  such as flower stands,

Flower Shadows blog

Flower shadows

and an aumbry holder…

In the shadow of the aumbry light

In the shadow of the aumbry light

…create ethereal shadows that are wreathed in colour and patches of light.

Even when that light is blocked in some way, what appears to be an ordinary clear glass window reveals its secrets. The imperfections of each pane revealing its own beauty

Imperfections reveal their own beauty

Beauty revealed in imperfection

Perhaps though, the most beautiful example of nature’s own stained glass windows was the one that I glimpsed when I walked in the arboretum at Wolvesey Palace in Winchester the other day…… This then is the light of nature and creation flooding into the church.

Light from nature's stained glass window

Nature’s stained glass window

Still we must be careful not to just allow ourselves to simply bathe in that light, soaking ourselves in its warmth and colour; but instead to remember that before it gets to stream in through those windows into our eyes and hearts, it has already shone on all those outside; where Christ is waiting to for us to join him in helping to build up the kingdom of heaven; and where we can all become living stained glass windows that reflect the rainbow colours of God

A man that looks on glasse,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it passe,
And then the heav’n espie.

The Elixir from The Temple (1633) by George Herbert

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