Betty J. Slade
A friend e-mailed me, sending photos of a big elaborate wedding she attended in Temple, Texas. I looked at the backdrop behind the communion table; and lo and behold, it was a large oil painting which I painted over twenty years ago.
My first thought was, I have forgotten that painting. So that is where my window painting went. I’m glad to know.
It was a picture of just windows; all kind of windows. She suggested I write about “Windows of Sincere friendships” or “Windows into the heart of a family”.
There are so many ways to go with this thought, but I pondered on the reason I painted it years ago. Each window was a vignette within the painting. One window was set in an old partially broken brick wall; one was set in an old antique, partially shown ornate house and the window was set in a white double window pane. It had a white lace curtain blowing in the open window. Another open window had a ledge where there were kernels of corn; a white dove was standing on the ledge and another one was flying in. One window belonged to an office building with a very stark feeling; another window showed the drapes closed. The arched window had stained glass and it was obvious where it belonged.
I just remembered the profound thought I had when I painted it; each window had a different story to tell, how life was lived behind the windows. From the outside you could almost tell who they belonged to, but my question was this, “What was going on behind the windows?”
It seemed odd to me that the bride’s mother would pick my painting with windows as a backdrop where the couple would take their vows before God. Then I understood what my friend requested that I do. Write on the Windows into the heart of a family. Maybe the mother was saying, “Choose the life you will live as a family before God. Your home will reflect it.
Young couples start out with a feeling of hope, a future, building a wonderful life together and all because they think they love each other. The guests cry in happiness and the father of the bride usually spends money he doesn’t have to give his daughter and the mother of the daughter what they must have. But everyone is happy. Do they understand the vow they make before God in this sacred union?
It doesn’t take long until love is tested. That’s when windows take on a different look. Some grow stronger with the trials but many times the shades are drawn shut and the light is turned off in their hearts. No one is home even though they are there in form. One day the moving van comes and takes away the belongings behind the windows and it is left to another couple who starts out with the same hope.
This young couple in trouble could even go to the place where stained-glass windows arched. They believe possibly they could get in touch with a God they do not know. So often they do not know what they are looking for, they just know their marriage isn’t working and they wonder what they got themselves into.
Behind these arched stained-glass windows, many times they find a form of godliness without power. They turn away in hopelessness, no one can help them. The church is in as much trouble as they are as a couple. But stained-glassed windows should mean Life is behind them.
A proverb says, “A wise women builds her house, a foolish one tears it down.” I know that I have done my fair share of tearing down my family over the years. I too started out as an eighteen-year-old bride with love in my eyes thinking how grand it was all going to be. Life came in and things happened. I lacked that unconditional love.
I told my Bible student this week, I couldn’t have written about my sweet Al years ago, I had an axe in my hand and I was ready to take his head off. I didn’t have unconditional love. But today, I don’t feel any barb in anything I write about him. I don’t have to get even, I don’t have to get my say, I don’t have to justify myself. Somehow, I don’t feel like I have anything to hide, so I have pulled the shades up on our lives. I too am trying to keep trash out of the front yard and my windows clean.
So, what do I know about writing on “The windows into the heart of a family”? I know the family makes the home, not the home makes the family. I know that the wheel moves with the rhythm of the mother’s heart and the rim of that wheel should be bound by the father’s care and protection and provision. I know when I see trash outside of a home, it tells me someone doesn’t care; and it probably carries the same thought inside.
And maybe they do care but are drawn away to the stark windows in the office building thinking that money is the answer. There they find satisfaction and appreciation for a season and the ability to buy more and more elaborate toys.
Hopefully our windows are open with the clean air blowing in and birds will feel safe to fly to our open window and feed from the substance of our caring home.
So how are we doing in this world of windows? Whether we open the curtains or not, our lives will tell the world what we are all about. Our family’s wellness will speak for us. Our children live behind those windows with us and one day they will have windows of their own.
When we stand before God and take our vows, He is the only one who can make our marriage work. He has an open window in heaven and holds out His arms in unconditional love. Jesus, the Son of God pulled back the drapes when in His death, He gave us Life. He invites us to His open window.