I am watching a documentary called “Building the Great Cathedrals” by PBS about the history and architecture of the great gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. My knitting sits on my lap, shamefully neglected, as I stare in awe at the great sentinels of worship and beauty. One of the cathedrals highlighted in the documentary is Chartres Cathedral in France. It’s truly a stunning tribute to the Middle Ages. Attention to detail and beauty is everywhere – in the carvings, the flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings, the arches, and of course, the stained glass. The windows of the cathedral are absolutely amazing. It has always been a strange irony that we use the term “Dark Ages” to refer to a civilization that was completely enraptured with light. The documentary refers to the windows, as “the Bible written in light.” In an age of illiteracy, the windows of cathedrals were the Bible to the people who lived and worshiped there. They learned the stories, the lessons, the hope of salvation from these windows. Looking at them now, it’s easy to see how the people must have felt themselves closer to heaven, with the light streaming through the panes of glass and the smell of incense in the air. I have been obsessed with the Medieval Age of Europe for as long as I can remember. One of the great joys in my life was to take a class in Medieval History in college. My professor loved the cathedrals too and we spent many lectures discussing the importance of the cathedrals to village life, and how everything about the cathedrals was to draw the attention of the parishioners to the beauty of God. All the senses were engaged in experiencing beauty as they worshipped together. It’s a model of worship I long for and I hope one day to see the magnificent cathedrals in person. Hope your day is filled with light.
Blessings to you,