The world today sometimes makes us feel “broken” in our everyday life, our aches and pains and joys disjointed, we ask “what is the meaning of it all?”
“The easiest thing to do is throw a rock. It’s a lot harder to create a stained glass window.”
– Jon Foreman
Stained glass windows are made of fragments, like pieces of a puzzle. Only when viewed from afar that they transform into a beautiful whole.
If we stop and step back, maybe we can see how far we have come. In our relationships, the joys we have brought to others, our contribution to the world no matter how small, perhaps we can see a pattern emerging – a beautiful stained glass window in the making.
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Stained glass windows offer a glimpse into something sublime. They tell us that there is something beyond the mundane, that perhaps we can transform ourselves and our world beyond the ordinary.
Stained glass windows at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic
When visiting Prague Castle, don’t miss the Golden Lane. It’s the little side street between the castle and the wall, built in the 16th century for the marksmen guarding the castle and their families.
The little houses contrast with the royal dwellings and state rooms, but have their own charm.
It got its name reputedly from alchemists who lived in the street. Franz Kapka was not known to be an alchemist but the writer apparently lived in house no. 22 for a couple of years.
Today, the houses are little souvenir shops, basking in the sun in their colorful facades and tiny pot gardens.
It is also a museum that shows how the interiors may have looked like 500 years ago.
After all that walking, a treat of trdelniks is in order; it’s a traditional Czech dessert that looks like a doughnut wrapped around a stick and roasted.
Looking out towards Charles Bridge and the city of Prague from the Castle grounds while munching on the trdelniks would be a perfect way to cap this Golden experience.
Cherry On Top
As the new year starts, the calendar turns a page — or for the astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall in Prague, it turns a new circle.
It dates from medieval times, and is the oldest astronomical clock still operating.
The circle at the bottom is the calendar. It has an intricate face that shows what appears to be the months of the year and the zodiac signs. The angel is pointing at the top where the current date is shown.
The clock itself is the circle at the top. Actually it has quite a number of circles. Aside from the time, it shows the sun, the moon, the planets, and other astronomical measurements. In horological terms, it has a lot of complications. It is so complicated I don’t know how to read the time!
But no need to despair. At the side is a familiar clock, perhaps running on a quartz movement. This tells the tourists when the next show is about to start.
There is an hourly clockwork show where the figures of apostles move about and the hour is struck.
Quite a show and quite a clock!
(More info on the Prague Astronomical Clock here.)
I walked in here a visitor and walked out a believer.
I have seen hundreds of churches from the grand to the humble, been to historic places of pilgrimage, found solace in unpretentious chapels, stood in awe at masterpieces of architecture. But here I felt a rekindling of faith, like going back to my childhood, like a blind man regaining sight, reacquainting with light.
Could it be the totally unabashed expression of devotion and belief in a higher order? Did I see man’s aspiration towards holiness despite his imperfections, his desire to rise above his troubled existence?
They say a church is not a building, that it resides in the hearts of men. Men are imperfect; it will always be an imperfect church. Yet by offering the better part of himself — his aspirations, hopes, and faith — he gets a chance to transcend his humanity, and touch holy ground.
St Vitus Cathedral Stained Glass
St Wenceslas Chapel