Have you ever thought about stained glass windows? Who made the first one? How? Why? Well, I started pondering them this morning. Prof Google and I did a little investigating and I rather lost the plot when talk began re Pliny and the ancient Egyptians 2700BC.
So we know it is ancient, and beads were made after glazing of earthenware produced hard coloured sodium residues etc etc etc and the windows with pictures and colours were all in churches. How is that? It will do for a potted history. Possibly wildly inaccurate, but that is not the point of this post.
I decided to dream of how they were formed and make up my own story. Much more fun and it doesn't involve Pliny, whose name still makes me shudder - I remember 5 years of Latin well. And anyway, the experts are undecided re Pliny because he does not appear to be a scientist, so that is the last you will hear of him here.
Stained glass. Pictures made up of pieces of glass. Tiny pieces, and bigger pieces. All different colours. End results = beautiful, and our churches have so many of them even today.
So I wonder who made the first picture, and why. Did he or she play with little glass pebbles in the sands, and make a pattern? Maybe a string of beads? Did they find a misshapen flat bead and wonder how to use it? Did they hunt around for more and make a pattern? Or did someone have something made of rough glass, drop it, and instead of tossing it in the bin (or ancient equivalent thereof) hold it up to the light and watch the rainbow prism dance over the world? And dream?
I love the idea of beauty in brokenness. (I had to check if that was actually a real word. It is.) Taking broken pieces and making something beautiful. Mosaics are like that too, for me. Little pieces totally useless or boring or broken, pieced together to make something unique and beautiful.
Back in 2008, Angie wrote her story about her pitcher, and I have never forgotten it. I haven't tried smashing one yet, but I may well do. Just so I can learn for myself the beauty of the broken bits. And the lesson in them.
It is like patchwork too - Geoff used to shake his head and wonder aloud what possessed me to have to cut up all those pieces of perfectly good material and then sew them together in a different way. Pieces. Bits. Rag quilts made of scraps, old seed bags.... Beauty still in the rags.
If you have a perfectly good pottery jug, which doesn't leak, it is functional. You can use it for drinks, for flowers. If it is broken, though, it can't be used for liquids, even once mended. Well, I am assuming it will leak. But it can be used for something else. What if you put a small candle inside the jug? Wouldn't the light peep through the cracks and glow? Wouldn't it have a different, perhaps more beautiful purpose then? Well, interesting, anyway. I mean, I would have to explain why I glued it together after smashing it, and may well be carted off to a padded cell somewhere as a result, or at the very least, have friends wondering about my mental health.
The stained glass reminded me of Angie's jug, and then my reading this morning was all about allowing the light to shine through me, and being more than adequate, and earthenware jugs, and cracks, and I am not putting this as well as I hoped.
Pieces. Me. Broken. Flawed. Not thrown away. Rebuilt in a newer way. Different. Unique. Not Rubbish. Not inadequate. Together. Whole. New. Light. Beauty. Shine. Purpose.
See? So I like to think that once, a long time ago, someone picked up the shards of broken glass, and instead, fashioned a picture of glory. And the light shone through it and danced over the world, and everyone marvelled at how the broken pieces could, when put together differently, become a thing of beauty after all.
A potter will squish a wonky pot flat on the wheel,. add a little more water and start over again, and create something beautiful from the clay. I know. I once did that many times. A stained glass artist will cut intricate pieces of glass from sheets and build their window from the pieces. A quilter will chop up scraps and create a quilt of beauty from them.
We do it all the time in a sense - make beauty from broken pieces. I have my old wheelbarrow in the garden. It is broken and can't be a wheelbarrow any more. It has holes in and no wheel. But I filled it with soil and it is now home to the biggest hosta I have ever grown, and it is beautiful - far more beautiful than it ever was as a wheelbarrow. Little things we reuse, alter, paint, break up and take apart.
Beauty in brokenness.
It makes you think, doesn't it?