Mack Williams: Stained glass shining in the dark

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 3, 2020

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
I drove past a small nearby church the other day on my way to a local park. Exercise is supposed to be as beneficial to warding off flu, both old and new variants, as is eating a balanced diet and taking certain supplements.
Just as I passed this church, certain icon-like images stood out in its stained-glass windows. There was a dove, a rainbow, a cross, and a wholly-circular crown of thorns underneath. These were all reminiscent of those little inked decals which used to come with the old PAAS Easter-egg coloring kits. Just as Christ being given a sponge soaked in vinegar (or sour wine) is linked to Easter, so is the vinegary smell from the dyeing of Easter eggs.
The outside of the glass canvas upon which those images were inlaid was gray in color, while the highlighted images were off-white. So unless the passersby were purposefully looking for them, they would probably not have stood out enough for them to notice. I imagined that they appeared beautiful on any sunny day of the week, not just Sunday.
It being an almost cloudless day, the glass had that reflective “wet” look, as does all glass. In fact, it’s common knowledge that glass is, in a way, liquid slowed down. The waviness of Colonial glass is due to the rippling effect of gravity’s tug over the years.
In some areas of the city, protective safety glass covers churches’ stained-glass windows. But I’ve yet to see any covered with metal bars to ward off burglars, like the windows of some small corner groceries.
Some years ago, a new church was built in the city. Its stained-glass window at the entrance is lit from within during all hours of the day and night, as if some sort of electric eternal flame were installed within.
I remember thinking at the time: “Whoever heard of such a thing, stained church glass lit from within at all times, instead of only being lit from without by the sun?” I usually followed this thought with: “They must have no idea of what’s proper.”
But I changed my mind, when recently seeing the stained-glass picture shining on one of these dark viral nights, deciding those parishioners had planned properly after all.

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