Some of you may know that over the course of my time working at Shepherd of the Valley I have been completing my training to become a Deaconess (and was supposed to have my consecration back in March). One of the things I completed while here was my final project. The final project can be anything from a short research paper to a piece of artwork. For my final project I was blessed to be able to work with Edie Martin and build a stained-glass window. I spent many days last summer working on this project to complete it by my final approval interview last October.
I quickly learned that this was going to be quite a project that would take much time and dedication. I drew parallels between the process of making my window and my formation as a deaconess. Each piece of glass is cut, ground, and sanded to its exact shape--but sometimes a piece would not break correctly along the score line and I would have to adjust and recut it. If I was off the traced line with the score mark and break, a lot of grinding was required to get the correct shape. It was important to shape each piece to fit into its spot or the whole image would be affected. The whole window could “grow” if the pieces were too big. This process made me think about community and how we are each formed and shaped along our journey, but in different ways and to serve different purposes. Just as each piece of glass has its own place in the puzzle as part of the whole image, every member plays a role in community to make it complete.
After all the glass was cut, the leading process began, which entailed fitting each piece together with the lead pieces that hold them together. Sometimes pieces needed more grinding to fit into their spot correctly--and other pieces had been ground a little too much and were a loose fit. Eventually though, every piece was wrapped and put into place, and all the pieces became a whole.
Next, I had to solder all the joints so they would hold the piece together, solidifying the connections and giving the window strength. Finally, came the cementing and cleaning processes, filling in the spaces between the glass and lead, firmly holding everything in place. This represents the ways we as a community support and strengthen each other when we are together. We are often stronger as a whole than as individuals.
The image consists of two pine trees in the foreground with a lake in the bottom right corner. The background shows three hills and a rising/setting sun and the sky. There are two rows of border glass that tie into the brighter colors from the inner image. The central image is a representation of me and my growth through my time as a deaconess student. The two pine trees are significant for several reasons. First, because I grew up under two large pine trees, so they represent where I came from. Second, the trees with nearby lake represent the camp where I first discerned a call to youth/outdoor ministry.
It was at camp where I first found community and a place where I could fully be myself. Finally, hidden within the branches of the trees is the shape of the Tao Rho, which represents how I have been shaped and formed by my diaconal community and into my diaconal identity--a sometimes subtle identity that has always been a part of who I am. Because of my student formation, I now have words to help me express it. The trees are my story and show how I have grown into who I am through the communities around me who have supported and challenged me along my journey to where I am now.
This project tells the story of my journey--from my beginnings, to my sense of call, to being shaped and formed by diaconal community. And now, the journey has given me the courage to move to Idaho and live into my calling of diaconal ministry. When I started the window I wasn’t thinking about these things, it was after it was completed as I began to reflect on the image that I began to see how much meaning was really wrapped up in it! The Spirit works in amazing ways.