Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stained Glass Epiphanies

I grew up in the center of the Bible belt -- Nashville, Tennessee. I am the daughter of a conservative, evangelical minister who was a literature professor as well. In his spare time, he loved doing community theater.  A strange amalgamation.

I married a man raised in the Methodist church. His mother had been raised Catholic. We are an odd compilation. 

The first time it happened was in a church in a Key West, FL. My husband and I walked into an episcopal church just as tourists. I sat down in a pew and began to look around at the stained glass windows depicting different scenes from Bible stories with which I was all too familiar. And I began to cry.

It may have been the first crack in the armor I'd been using all my life. Armor established in early childhood to protect myself from the horrors of abuse, but also from the dissonance of my home life. A conservative minister, who gave me Stephen King and The Catcher in the Rye to read. Who took me to see The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and Equus by the time I was 14, and quoted Mark Twain more than the Bible. 

I looked at those stained glass windows, and for the first time instead of seeing gaudy, papist opulence, I saw devotion and love between God and man. I saw a God who was in love in with me, instead of a God who held a rule book in one hand and ledger of misdeeds in the other. My husband sat beside me, and understood what I couldn't articulate. 

I've spent a lot of time since then looking, seeking, and reading. Trying to decode what were merely religious traditions from what God actually wants from me and for me. I still have more questions than answers, but it doesn't scare me the way it once did. 

Stained glass epiphanies.

linking up with Write at the Merge and imperfect prose on thursday


  1. That's such an important part of faith and spirituality, I think, having questions but not fearing them anymore.

  2. I can't speak with any authority about God or religion, but it seems to me that love and faith in that love, between an individual and a greater whole, should be the basis of anything good.

    Thanks for linking up, Melanie.

  3. Never thought that these windows would be such a blessing. Very cool and encouraging.

  4. I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma thinking I was the buckle on the Bible belt. I was struck as I read your words how God breaks into our lives in the most surprising ways to reveal himself. Like walking into a church as a tourist. He is so gentle and kind and considerate in the way he loves us.


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