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A glass window stands before us. We raise our eyes and see the glass; we note its quality, and observe its defects; we speculate on its composition. Or we look straight through it on the great prospect of land and sea and sky beyond.
Benjamin B. Warfield
"Some Thoughts on Predestination"
God stretched out the heavens, stippling the night with impressionistic stars. He set the sun to the rhythm of the day, the moon to the rhythm of the month, the seasons to the rhythm of the year. He blew wind through reedy marshes and beat drums of distant thunder. He formed a likeness of Himself from a lump of clay and into it breathed life. He crafted a counterpart to complete the likeness, joining the two halves and placing them center stage in His creation where there was a temptation and a fall, a great loss and a great hiding. God searched for the hiding couple, reaching to pick them up, dust them off, draw them near. Though they hardly knew it at the time. After them, He searched for their children and for their children's children. And afterward wrote stories of His search.
In doing all this, God gave us art, music, sculpture, drama, and literature. He gave them as footpaths to lead us out of our hiding places and as signposts to lead us along in our search for what was lost.
Shaped from something of earth and something of heaven, we were torn between two worlds. A part of us wanted to hide. A part of us wanted to search. With half-remembered words still legible in our hearts and faintly sketched images still visible in our souls, some of us stepped out of hiding and started our search.
Though we hardly knew where to look.
We painted to see if what was lost was in the picture. We composed to hear if what was lost was in the music. We sculpted to find if what was lost was in the stone. We wrote to discover if what was lost was in the story.
Through art and music and stories we searched for what was missing from our lives.
Though at times we hardly knew it.
Though at times we could hardly keep from knowing it.
The German poet Rilke tells of one of those times in a fable where the sculpting hands of Michelangelo "tore at the stone as at a grave, in which a faint dying voice is flickering. 'Michelangelo,' cried God in dread, 'who is in the stone?' Michelangelo listened; his hands were trembling. Then he answered in a muffled voice: 'Thou, my God, who else? But I cannot reach Thee.' "
We reach for God in many ways. Through our sculptures and our scriptures. Through our pictures and our prayers. Through our writing and our worship. And through them He reaches for us.
His search begins with something said. Ours begins with something heard. His begins with something shown. Ours, with something seen. Our search for God and His search for us meet at windows in our everyday experience.
These are the windows of the soul.
In a sense, it is something like spiritual disciplines for the spiritually undisciplined. In another sense, it is the most rigorous of disciplines -- the discipline of awareness. For we must always be looking and listening if we are to see the windows and hear what is being spoken to us through them.
But we must learn to look with more than just our eyes and listen with more than just our ears, for the sounds are sometimes faint and the sights sometimes far away. We must be aware, at all times and in all places, because windows are everywhere, and at any time we may find one.
Or one may find us.
Though we will hardly know it . . . unless we are searching for Him who for so long has been searching for us.
When we look long enough at a scene from a movie, a page from a book, a person from across the room, and when we look deeply enough, those moments framed in our minds grow transparent. Everywhere we look, there are pictures that are not really pictures but windows. If only we have eyes to see beyond the paint. If we look closely, we can see something beyond the two dimensions within the frame, something beyond the ordinary colors brushed across the canvas of our everyday lives.
What do we see in those windows? What do we see of who we are, or once were, or one day might become? What do we see of our neighbor living down the street or our neighbor living on the street? What do we see about God?
Windows of the soul is a way of seeing that begins with respect. The way we show respect is to give it a second look, a look not of the eyes but of the heart. But so often we don't give something a second look because we don't think there is anything there to see.
To respect something is to understand that there is something there to see, that it is not all surface, that something lies beneath the surface, something that has the power to change the way we think or feel, something that may prove so profound a revelation as to change not only how we look at our lives but how we live them.
Posted March 12, 2010
What a terrific creative book! I enjoyed the way Ken Gire explains how the holy intersects with the ordinary in transcendant moments. I recommend and give this book often!
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