I admit to being a binge watcher on television. I find a show I like, and I watch it from one end to the other and, quite often, start back over again and do the same thing. Usually, I watch something else for a while and then return to an earlier binge just because I liked the show so much. Sometimes two or three viewings is enough; sometimes it isn’t. Once I find a show that I do like, however, I want to see it again. I’m glad Netflix and Amazon both offer me the opportunity to do that.
My latest binge is The Crown. Okay, I realize it’s two seasons old already with the third season coming up. I watched the first couple of episodes some months ago and just didn’t like it, yet, the other day I needed something new, and so I started watching the first season again. It was a little rough going for one episode or so, but then I got hooked. I just finished season two, and I’m ready to watch it again.
Royal things fascinate me; they have since I was a little kid. I remember pouring over the National Geographic that came out featuring pictures of the coronation, the crown jewels, and and the whole shebang. It fascinated me, and it hasn’t stopped. I read biographies and just about anything else I can find, and feel like I know the royal family fairly well for somebody who has never been closer to England than postcards and souvenirs from friends and folks who have. I realize that The Crown is a work of docu-fiction–part truth, part fiction–but I still think there are a few things that I can take away from this particular production.
There were several things I noticed about the actor portraying the Queen. She’s no Helen Mirren, but she is credible in the part. I also saw that she spends a lot of time looking out of windows, no matter where she is. She looks out of windows to see who’s driving up to the castle/palace/wherever she is. She looks out when she’s thinking. She looks out when she’s distressed, and sometimes perhaps she merely likes the view. The thing is that she looks out of windows just like we all do.
I have several windows that I like to look out of in my house. There are two in the bay window where I can see the mulberry tree on the one corner of the house and watch it through its various seasons. I can watch the leaves flutter in the breeze, and I can watch them burst out of their buds, grow, and then fall. I can watch the kids riding their bicycles up and down the street; then I can watch hummingbirds coming to swill the nectar from the cape honeysuckle on the other corner. I look at them to see what’s going on, sometimes to think, and sometimes just as a focus to let my mind roam were it will or needs to go.
Windows in churches are lovely things. Growing up in churches that had plain glass, there was always something to look at when sermon sometimes got a little boring, or just because it was something that pleased my eye. When I got into churches that had stained-glass, the more intricate, the better, and the happier I was. The light coming through the windows during the day and going out the windows when the candle or electric lights were on at night were beautiful; they had so many colors and so many designs, it was like an almost never-ending feast.
The windows, especially the stained glass ones, were not always illustrating Bible stories, or stories of the saints, or events commemorated by a family who donated the money for some kind of imagery of their family crest, illustrious ancestor, commemoration, or their businesses. I keep going back to the idea that the light comes in and then goes back out as the day turns to night. I think that’s really exemplary of how we need to see the church, not necessarily in terms of ornamentation but where the light goes. We go into a church in the daytime, and we see the light coming in from one place or another, with the colors deepening and glowing as it does. It gives us something beautiful to look at, it provides us with a story or merely a shape to focus on and reflect upon, and it turns even the colorful clothing of the parishioners into richly-colored garb. At night, like on Christmas Eve, we leave the church and go back out into the world, but even though it’s dark outside, we don’t lose the light because it follows us out and shines through the darkness so that we can still see it a long way away.
That’s what we’re supposed to be. Jesus said he was the light of the world, and we take him at his word. Still, he expects us to be candles that may not be huge, but are still lights in the world.
Lights in the window indicate a welcome home and a light to shine in the darkness to guide people. We need to be windows with candles inside. As Christians we need to obey Jesus, to spread the good news, and that means to be joyful, to be eager, and to be welcoming.
Sometimes windows get grimy, but almost always they can be cleaned so that the world looks clearer through them and the candlelight and color can shine brighter. That’s a thought I think I’d better take with me this week. Windows are not just to peer out of but to invite others in.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is the staff supporting three cats.