I have this friend who does stained glass art. I chose the weak verb “does” for a reason. It means…design, cut, curse, bleed, curse some more I imagine, and slowly create these unbelievable works of art. I’ve loved watching her tweets over the past several months as she’s worked on this massive project and shares her progress through a series of photos.
There was one photo in particular that stood out. She used this huge plastic bin to catch the tiny shards of glass that fly off a piece being cut. That’s when I realized oh my gosh. This is like REAL glass flying around.
She also tweeted photos of little pieces of “practice” glass. She cut a bunch of practice circles before putting pieces on her big project.
And when you see the little pieces of glass you think, it’s pretty but nothing special. But as she has carefully put them within the context of her art, that little piece of broken glass put together with all the other little pieces of broken glass becomes something breathtaking.
It reminds me of the time I went to Paris. There’s this chapel there called La Sainte-Chapelle. Go ahead. Pronounce it in your best French accent. It’s located on the Île de la Cité right smack in the middle of Paris. The chapel was built by King Louis IX of France between 1239 and consecrated in 1248 and houses one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world.
That’s the part where you say “ohhhhhhhh”. Yes, I know history can make your eyes glaze over.
But talking about the chapel is one thing. Looking at it is quite another. Let me put it into hyperbole terms. If the angels of God wept tears of beauty it would take the form of the glass. It’s beauty is unimaginable, even when you see it with your own eyes.
What makes it beautiful is not one, big, giant piece of glass, it is millions of tiny pieces of broken and cut glass that has been placed ever so carefully to create something, well, c’est magnifique!
My friend and I both have recently gone through a big heartbreak. You know the kind that leaves you waking in the night to a tear stained pillow that you keep having to flip over to the dry side. It’s the kind of heartbreak that shakes your very foundation and sadly leaves you questioning every minute detail of your life as it readily attempts to rob you of your future hope. And every day your faced with the daunting task of believing in love again.
Even eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with a side of tequila doesn’t seem to touch the sting of the situation.
And that’s when it hit me, right after the tequila. Our lives are like the glass in the Sainte-Chapelle. Our hearts and our lives are made up of millions of broken little moments. Some are beautiful, some are not, but all are us. And without going too far into cliche-ville, I realized true works of art never happen over night. Look at the Chapel. It took them 9 years before you could tell what a masterpiece it was.
NINE YEARS! And that’s only if I’m doing my math right.
We tend to hold in our hands one tiny piece of glass, or maybe it’s even a significant piece, and it cuts deep. It hurts. But the cool thing is what God does with that one little piece. He puts it in exactly the right place and then he lights up the other side so we can see the amazing beauty He is creating. You can’t see that when you sit in the dark. You have to let the light shine through all those pieces.
There is beauty in the broken.
Don’t ever let anyone convince you there’s not. And when all feels lost, please trust that there is an artist, just like you, that is working as diligently as you at putting all the right pieces in to place. And He’s catching all those tiny chards. And He’s healing all those cuts, even the deep ones, and He is making you into something amazing.
And when His masterpiece is done, I can’t wait to just sit there and relish in the glory of it. And your life is going to look exactly like the Sainte-Chapelle.
And girrrrrl, we need to go to Paris. (I’m snapping in a Z, you just can’t see it.) I love you. Now carry on your beautiful work. Because God is too.