Over the holidays I decided to take some detours down roads that would stimulate my memory. First stop was Perry Michigan. My home from age 2 until age 12. A one stoplight rural burgh positioned on a highway that could deliver you to Lansing or Flint for work if you weren't a local farming family. My father pastored the Baptist Church on South Main and I purposely drove round the block where the church and the parsonage stand. My memories of writing my bike around and through that block are vivid and expansive. That block was my world I didn't remember these windows at all, though, and when I saw them my soul felt flooded with feelings.
When I was six years old, the congregation had grown so big that the church held a big fund raising campaign, hired a fancy architect and built an auditorium out the back of the church that was shaped like a half sunburst and colored all seventies style in gold carpet and pews that were padded with alternating cushioning of red and purple.
The old auditorium was converted into a gym that could contain the recess and the athletic endeavors of the brand new Christian School that had been forged to fight back against the emerging cultural evils: evolution, feminism, secular humanism and Madelyn Murray O'Hare. So instead of removing the (simple, practical) colored square stained glass windows, improvisational plywood studded walls would protect them from basketballs, kickballs and volleyballs.
As I drove past I could only feel what it was like to be in that gym as a kid and what it felt like to speed by those windows on my bike (also when I was a kid). I always had a sense that I was a PROFOUNDLY inside insider. And a profound sense that my life was tethered to the church -- this church.
But I felt the centrifugal force too. I was yearning to know and explore far beyond the carefully controlled interior that they demanded from me. Now those windows feel profound to me. They are all for show and they don't let any light in. I have been excited by nonfunctional windows for years, and I think I may have just found out the reason for the resonance. I grew up in a world made of beautiful squares and closed windows.