Give me a house with large windows to let the light pour in, and a view to inspire my soul.
I have always adored windows. Since childhood, I would gaze through the framed glass into the world outside. Feasting my eyes on the snow silently falling in powdery clumps onto the Devon hills, or the evening summer sun casting its coppery light across the valley, was like a benediction. The seasons displayed their wonders beyond the panes to my inside world, beckoning me out into the embrace of creation.
Even today I am still found glancing out of windows. While I am washing dishes I glimpse squirrels running helter-skelter around the tree trunks, or birds nibbling on seed at their feeder which hangs off our deck. Chairs are positioned in front of windows so I can gaze and contemplate, just like that little girl of long ago, quietly observing the light or the changing of the seasons.
Windows are also taking different forms these days though. Technology has opened up "windows" into all kinds of different worlds. I can virtually walk through a museum, view images of my favorite garden in England, or have face to face conversations without leaving the boundaries of my home.
The virtual experience is close to reality but at times feels a little off-kilter. Since I cannot feel, taste, or touch what I see, and neither can I walk out a door to enter into that world, it has a dream-like quality about it. I have this strange mix of gratitude for the constant availability of wonderful resources to inspire during this home-bound season, combined with weariness because of the empty quality of mindless browsing. It takes effort to choose well.
Leafing through a book full of art last night, I was captured by the paintings below which evoked my feelings about windows into the virtual world. In the first picture, the artist's younger brother stands with his back to the room, gazing out into a world beyond him. I am convicted by the imagery he presents, and the lingering uncertainty of how many times have I turned my back on the things of home, my family, my everyday surroundings, in order to scroll through images on a screen.
Young Man at his Window. Gustave Caillebotte
The imagination of what is beyond our touch can be alluring, whispering that the world outside offers a experience which far exceeds what we have right here. It is so easy to enter into the fantasy of worlds set before us which compel us into a hyper-real, air brushed, and filtered existence - a space that promises to satisfy longings but falls far, far short of doing that. Some virtual windows are that way.
Flicking through more pages in the art book in the evening light, the pages opened to another picture called, "The Open Window." This time, as you can see below, instead of the interior feeling austere and empty in relation to what is beyond, the home is a riot of color, almost pulling the light and radiance spread across tree and sky inside, creating a scene that is warm, peaceful, and glad with its domestic simplicity. The window opening into light, sun, and shimmering leaves likewise seem to serve the home, freely issuing forth a natural warmth and goodness into the fabric of the room.
The Open Window. Pierre Bonnard
"The Open Window" shows us a scene full of life - a portal that pours love into everyday home surroundings. Windows can open up a view into wonder and delight, letting fresh air breathe through our souls and homes - something we desperately need. Or, at their worst, can create longing that will never be satisfied.
Perhaps more than at any other time in history, I have choices set before me. The myriad of media washes all around me like an ocean, but I have power to influence which windows I set in the fabric of my home. To handpick the portals that will bring beauty, goodness, and truth, might seem costly (it does take effort), but will result in a life and home formed with artistry - a life that will flow with inspiration.
So today, armed with these thoughts, I determine to choose windows which are full of life and light and which illuminate this life and home like the stained glass windows of old.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.