I was once a color in a stained glass window – white to be exact. In the fragmented glass, I was depicted as the dove that came down heaven when Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John. Within the window are God’s words: “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
My window is identical in shape to eleven others in a stone cathedral on 5th Street in Seattle. Towering 20 feet high and 4 feet wide, we flank either side of the sanctuary - six to a side, each representing passages from the Bible. To the careful observer we look as arms, highly extended with lengthened fingers cresting at our peak as if in gentle prayer.
At the entrance of our cathedral was a round, 20 foot rose window, depicting the Last Supper of Christ with his Twelve Disciples. To me, with all its various splintered colors, it was the most beautiful of all the windows combined. I had often overheard many call it the eye of God.
Our windows provide light as all windows do. But our light was once wonderfully and solemnly hued by our fragmented shapes and colors. Within the cathedral, our light pooled as water in a baptismal font. Parishioners immersed in the cleansing ambient glow of a celestial luminance. Their souls buried with Christ in peaceful solitude, washed in silent waves of hushed tints of red, white, blue, green, purple, yellow, gold, black and brown.
Outside, through stone encasements, our same lights once shone more apparent. Our purpose more beacon, more pyre than resting waters. Our light a plank, a rope to the storm tossed seeking refuge. Yet still we are silent that a greater voice more solemn more glorifying than our own can be heard.
Often, within the pews in whispered deference, it was overheard that the color purple is the most beautiful – the most calming to the soul.
“Possibly, if there were more of it,” some uttered, “we would be more satisfied.” These words were spoken not as a judgment against the other colors, but more a common feeling bubbling up from questioning souls. Purple, the color of royalty, its silky wash emboldening the wearer with its priestly power; or else to the disheartened, secreting them within its protective armor.
Though whispered, such pronouncements did not go unheeded by those in earthly authority. “Contentment, if at all within our power, must be maintained,” it was heard someone say. “We must always try to keep our flock happy and in a constant state of grace.”
And so artisans were called. They walked the hallowed galley beneath our colorful stained windows, hemming, hawing and scratching their collective jaws. To come at last to a conclusion of what best be done to preserve the whispered desires of the worshipers. Every mosaic traced upon our glassy periphery, every image imbued within our core was to be replaced by the one solitary comforting color: purple.
And so white was taken from our glass – even the robe of Christ as too my wings. Brown was taken as well, drained from His cross and crown of thorns, followed by red showing His sacrifice in stains of blood. Gold, once resplendent of Easter Morn was also eked away with the blue, as were the black letters of Scripture expunged. Even the round rose window at our entrance, the eye of God, turned a lividity that could only be called bruised.
Once accomplished our light filled the galley below us in but one harmonic and glorious purple hue; nothing within it to give one pause to want more. Within the pews congregants sat in the cooling touch of lavender mist rather than awash in the depths of baptismal waters.
No white of robe or feathered wing, no red of blood, brown of cross or crown of thorn, no black letters of Scripture to dissuade or disturb them from their common reverie. And, outside our stone encasements, our light showed more pale illusion than beacon. Our voice of light, no longer silent in that a greater voice more solemn more glorifying than our own might be heard.
“Pretty,” the congregants said, glancing about. Their words sounding hollow, their bodies ill at ease in the bland lighted sameness of the pews. The peace they had once known, now lost in over abundance and likewise its beauty in detached monotony.
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