Since 1984, when I was first an undergraduate student at St John’s College in Durham, I have sat in the chapel looking at the stained glass window which depicts the crucifixion. I guess it is Victorian, and the top panel shows Jesus on the cross, his mother Mary to one side, his friend John to the other. Below are, among others, pictures of the women going to the tomb, the angels with the stone rolled aside, and the resurrection.
What makes the picture so fascinating to me, aside from the great depiction of women serving Jesus, is the fragmented nature of the story. Because I like to bring order to chaos, I would start with at the beginning of the Holy Week story, and move on through the story to the end. But this depiction is haphazard, jumbled, and not at all linear. The stories appear out of time, almost as though the glaziers were learning their job (which of course they were, since St Mary the Less was the parish church of the Cathedral workers).
Some of me is irritated by this disorder, and some of me refreshed! I can’t decide… There should be order, but perhaps it is simply good for me to see the story in a different way, without the interpretation that my ordered mind expects. Like seeing a story I know too well, from a different place, and being surprised by it again. Like being an ordinand too, looking up at the story played out, morning and evening in the chapel.
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