I love colored glass. I’m not picky about the color or form. Wine bottles, stained glass, vases, ornaments, candle holders, drinking glasses, glass beads….if the glass is colored and light passes through it I am attracted to it. I’m not sure why I find such joy in looking at pretty colored glass. Maybe it is because it always catches the light, and therefore my eye? Maybe it’s because it changes things when you look through it and yet leaves what it changes unchanged?
For Mother’s Day this year my daughter gave me stained glass lessons! She took me to a local studio and signed me up for 5 lessons working with a stained glass artist. I was more excited than you can imagine. First, because I would learn how to work with colored glass, and second, because it was such a thought filled gift from the young woman who has taken over my daughter’s body in the last year.
I have had the pleasure of three out of five of my classes so far. I am not disappointed. I am having a great time and the instructor is more than patient with my efforts. I have always admired glass from a distance, but now I am learning more and more about its wonderful properties and possibilities.
The first lesson was learning how to break the glass. I soon discovered that one does not “break” glass, we “separate” it from itself. With skilled hands the instructor scored the glass first. This causes all the molecules that are lined up and locked into position to become disordered and weakened. This weakness along the line’s edges allows the two sections to be easily separated from each other. A little tapping helps to encourage separation.
Soon it was time to pick the glass colors and design I would work on for my first project. I chose a pattern which required only about 10 pieces and 3 colors. Patiently the instructor showed me sheet after sheet of glass tiles. I could have spent all day looking at the color variations and textures. I finally chose three colors. Over the last few classes I have “separated” many sections into distinct shapes, learned to grind and prep the edges and am in the final stage of learning how to cover the edges with copper foil prior to soldering. So much attention to detail and so much fun!
I am looking forward to seeing the final product. For now I simply have a bag of glass. Shards, once part of a larger pane, are now separated, ground, and lined with copper. I proudly carry my bag of glass home to show my family my work in progress. I like the tinkling sound the pieces make as they slide against each other in the bag. I like how already I can place them like parts of a puzzle and see the pattern taking shape. I like knowing that collectively the beauty of the glass pieces will be better than the jagged parts they once were. I like that even though the glass is fragile, my efforts will result in a stained glass panel that could last for generations beyond my own.
I think people are like my glass project at times. Everyone has their own beauty or unique quality. Like the original glass tiles, each is precious individually. God allows some “scoring” in our lives, a weakening that causes us to depend on Him. We endure a season of breaking, “separating”. This is not always a loud, crashing, cracking crisis. “Separating” is the small tap or constant pressure at our weakest places and times. We become smaller in some ways. At first we are only remnants of what we once thought we were, and then we are reshaped for His purpose. The friction of challenges we face will grind our sharp edges and prepare us for the next step in His creative process. God will align us in relationships, with symmetry and carefully choreographed colors and textures. God takes the part of us He has prepared and fits us to one another. We are more brilliant, beautiful and enduring because we are a part of His bigger picture and final image. When all is done, we are His masterpiece, a work that reflects His care to detail.
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. (1Cor.12:18)
I like that. I may be the oddly shaped piece, the dull color, or a tiny sliver of glass, but I AM PART OF HIS PLAN and have a place in His creation.