In the Glass

Terry writes a short reflection on a conversation between a priest and a women, and a stained glass window.

A stained glass window
A stained glass window

Long after the service was over, a woman was standing in the church looking at the new stained glass window. The priest, not recognising her, and noticing that she had been motionless before it for an inordinate amount of time, decided to strike up a conversation. He stood next to her and looked up at the window.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked; although privately he thought it a waste of money.

“Yes” she replied instantly, but in a deadpan voice. Then after a moment she added. “And no. But even the bits that aren’t beautiful, are beautiful.”

Looking from the woman to the window, the priest felt a mixture of bewilderment and concern. Alerted by her tone, he wondered if the woman was sober and in full control of her senses. After a few seconds pause, he continued his query. “What do you mean?”

She said nothing, but her attention on the window made him look at it again; and the first thing that sprang to mind was the cost of the project to the parish, and the length of time it had taken. The shortest part of the whole, drawn-out, negotiated process which no one had really been happy with was the actual making of it. The man, a tall bearded fellow, had unusually brought his tools to the hall next door and made it on site. In two days it had been laboured over, adjusted and readjusted until the guy had been happy that it was done, and had fitted and finished it.

His reverie was interrupted by the woman, and as the priest tuned in, he guiltily realised he had no idea how long she’d been speaking.

“… I have never seen beauty in art before. My husband is the artist; always speaking about this or that tone and how much of himself Van Gogh put in this particular piece – but I have never seen it, until today.”

The priest looked at the glass, genuinely curious. “Why this piece, then, why is this different?”

For the first time she turned to face the priest, who was turned to the window.

“This piece is different because my husband died yesterday, and I think you misunderstood me before. My husband was the artist, and this piece, this piece is beautiful.”