I like what Will Braun had to say in his blog post this week. He advocated for ‘putting the sun back in Sunday’, or making nature a bigger part of church space.
In his post, Braun complained that on a warm summer morning, he sat in an air-conditioned church and could not see anything of the outdoors. Stained glass windows, walls and a roof all shielded it from view. “My soul gets a little claustrophobic if I can’t see any sky”, he said.
My church is just coming up on its 25th anniversary. Trafalgar’s building is young compared to many established churches, and has none of the gothic arches and soaring ceilings often found in more traditional spaces. It also has clear glass in the large windows, rather than coloured glass. Sitting in the pulpit or the pews there is a clear view of lawn and trees.
Some might say that this anniversary is the perfect time for our congregation to raise money and put in proper stained glass windows. I know other churches who have done exactly that, and often there are donors who can’t wait to write a cheque and choose a design. Thankfully, our congregation doesn’t seem have that on the agenda.
I like the brightness of our space, the large open room with neutral colours and very simple furniture. I love looking out the windows on a Sunday morning, too. Sometimes we listen as a thunder storm approaches and can see the rain as it begins to fall in big, fat drops. Other times we see wind whipping snoflakes into a frenzy as we pray for those living on the streets in the bitter cold. In the trees we see the seasons pass in leaves of green, then yellow, then brown.
Here in Canada we are forced indoors much of the year. Yet a connection with the natural world beyond us anchors us, nourishes us, connects us to something far greater than ourselves. It makes sense to have church space that allows us to see sky or trees. For that matter, it makes sense to have that kind of space at home and at work, too.
An office with a window not only lets us know whether we need an umbrella at lunchtime–it also keeps us from forgetting that we are part of a wider world. We cannot get lost in cyberspace if we can still see the sky.
At home, windows that look out onto the backyard remind us that while we are eating dinner, so are the birds. Looking out into the street means that we remember we are someone’s neighbour. Sometimes we need to be coaxed out of our cocoons so that we can take our place in the world again.
My favourite place in the house is in the dining room because it has a big window that lets in morning sun. From there I can see the trees and the grass, the flowers at the back of the yard, and goldfinches that come to eat the sunflower seeds. Sitting there makes me feel better, especially when the weather means I can’t go outside. I hope that you have a place (or two) where you can see and drink in the world’s natural beauty–whether that’s on a Sunday morning at church or a Friday afternoon on the bus.