A life is like a stained-glass window. Colorful yet clear. Translucent yet obscured. Strong yet fragile. An arrangement of shard-moments held by a force that keeps everything in place. Miraculous things -- life and stained-glass windows. Still, yet moving. Works of art that change as daylight inevitably turns to nightdark.
At 83, Rowan LeCompte is in the later stages of both windowmaking and life. His life's work has been the dreaming and designing of exquisite stained-glass windows for the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, better known as Washington National Cathedral. Over the years he has created more than 40 windows. He fashioned his first when still a boy. He is probably working on his last.
The LeCompte windows give the cathedral heavenly color: The kaleidoscopic West Rose that celebrates God's creation of heaven and earth. The green, red and gold Calling of Peter window on the north side of the nave. The delicate little Gable Wheel window in the Pilgrim Observation Gallery.
Among the 233 stained-glass windows in the majestic edifice, LeCompte's have a special glow. He has designed more windows in the cathedral than any other artist. LeCompte is "an artist who marries together traditional techniques and sensibilities with contemporary style," says the cathedral's conservator, the Rev. John A. Runkle. LeCompte, he adds, is skillful at "spanning the ages."
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