There’s a unique privilege that I enjoy, in renting a room next-door to a place of worship. In particular the steeple at Providence has often given me cause to reflect, on the majesty and grace of (church) community, as it lives out its vision for a compelling presence in the world. But I’m also reminded that our beautiful (physical, intellectual, spiritual) eyes lack clarity, depth of field, and focus.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
— 1 Corinthians 13:12
The steeple points us beyond ourselves, beyond the mind-bending of pin-pricks of light travelling for eons to get here: to the Origin of the cosmos, to the Mystery of being, to the King of kings… and yet here we are, in this windy heat wave, grounded like a Southcote Road Sycamore… left to ponder such earthly experience as the sound of marching feet in the tops of the trees.
This window – an amalgam of acrylic and arboreal flourishing – frames for me an invitation to investigate, (to seek and to find) the fringes of the knowable – the metaphysical edges of existence. In light of this pursuit, I relish the permission that my Christian journey has given me to wonder about what "face to face" might mean, and to muse on what purposeful end we might be meandering towards in this milky way.
But the visual language of the window pane encourages another kind of reflection too: about how my search effort for clarity is itself supremely ephemeral and small. Certainty, though in some sense attainable, is a project with limits. I struggle to be okay with that.
And yet, when our pretty suburban bell-bearing tower is rendered in the fragility of reflection, it quickly loses all pretense towards monument. In such a moment, in the place where ambition has been killed, we find an opportune time for the Spirit to enter, filling the place it inhabits with the glorious aesthetic of the here and now. Let’s you and I together turn the collective crank of all the world’s windows… let in some wind, and engage in the divinely empowered performance art of Carpe Diem In Dei Gloriam!