Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Stained Glass Kelp Forest

Stained Glass Kelp Forest

Would anyone notice if we switched these two windows?  If we took the Aquarium’s Kelp Forest window to the La Selva Community Church up the coast and placed it over the altar?  And then moved La Selva’s baptism window to the Aquarium?

The Kelp Forest window, like stained glass windows in temples, mosques and churches, puts a frame around color and light and motion to tell a story, a story of bounty and beauty.

And like the Aquarium’s magic windows into the deep, La Selva’s baptism window uses the sea, and a seashell, a symbol of baptism since the catacomb murals, to tell the story of blessing and new life.

Medieval stained glass told faith stories to a largely illiterate people and enhanced the beauty of the stone buildings.  The Aquarium’s habitat windows tell ocean stories to us ocean illiterates.

Both use beauty to open our hearts and instruct our minds.

My two dear ministry colleagues Tish Scargill and Jane Grady turned me on to this connection of aquarium exhibit and church stained glass. 

They were part of a group of religious leaders I took on a “spiritual tour” of the Aquarium.  Before entering, I asked them to imagine they were about to enter a cathedral and to consider what images and feelings might be similar in both buildings.   Tish said, "I love the way stained glass windows in a church tell a story with beauty.  I get the same feeling looking at the Kelp Forest exhibit."

Tish directs the catechetical ministries of the Monterey Catholic Diocese, and is a great supporter of Blue Theology.  Last summer she helped organize our Blue Theology week for youth from the farm labor camps of rural Monterey County.  She knows the power of both beauty and story.

Jane is pastor of the La Selva Church and worked with the local stained glass artist John Joy several years ago to design 12 new windows for the church.  Jane says, “John was the fourth stain glass window artist we interviewed and we chose him for a number of reasons--his work was the least traditional and included less blocks of color and more curving, free flowing lines; he listened carefully to us and reflected back what he heard--other artists seemed to have a particular style that wasn't resonating with what we wanted; we experienced his commitment to collaboration with us immediately, which was an absolute "joy", befitting his name; and he understood how we wanted the windows, even in what they were expressing, to echo the natural world around us.

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?
Come worship at the Aquarium or La Selva UCC and experience Blue Theology stories in beauty.  We visit all kinds of ocean holy places on our Blue Theology mission trips and pilgrimages.  I try to tell some ocean beauty stories every Wednesday here and on Facebook.  Be in touch.

Kelp Forest photo: Miguel Hermoso Cuesta. 

1 comment:

  1. Stained glass can actually replace and help to imagine. That`s why in places of worship you can see a lot of these - finding yourself is one of the hardest thing in the world. I personally found myself in stained glass restoration business. Working with glass really calms me and makes a better man