|Two years ago last week, Sixth Avenue United Church of Christ in Denver, where I directed youth programming, dedicated beautifully restored stained-glass windows. This window restoration project had lasted about a year. We were lucky to get a matching grant from the state’s historical fund in order to preserve these beautiful windows. The work had to be done at the right season, as glass expands and contracts with the weather, and the coloration can change based on the elements to which it is exposed. The money had to be secured up front. This day felt like a big, big celebration for our church family.
And yet, on the day of the dedication, I missed it because I was working with the youth in the fellowship hall instead of being in the sanctuary. I was watching the beautiful fall morning light stream in through unstained, unrestored windows rather than the newly restored stained-glass windows. At first, I had a sense of jealousy of all those in my church who would get to experience worship and the dedication of our restored stained glass.
And then, I realized a bigger truth: I’ve often encountered God in spaces where stained glass would be absurd, such as hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail, listening to a new album from my favorite artists or bands, the moment my wife proposed to me, stargazing at DuBois Center, meeting my cousin’s children. Often, our most sacred moments happen to us outside of the spaces we identify as sacred. God meets us at every window if we give God the opportunity. I remembered in my moment of jealousy what Mary Oliver said of prayer:
“It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”
And so, two years after this moment that changed the way I perceived what is sacred, DuBois Center has become my new sacred space. We are raising money for new projects and to fix up some of our existing buildings. One of the projects on the list is new windows for Oak Lodge, and new windows for the office. My heart is warmed when I think of our current windows – the gateway to the sacred or a great view of the lake for around 55 years now. However, eventually original windows need updating – whether they are stained glass or not. Replacing these original, single-pane windows in Oak Lodge with double-pane, insulted windows at the same time we update HVAC, our energy efficiency increases greatly, and it will help us lower a high electric bill. The cost of the Oak Lodge Windows is $17,650.00. These windows give us a view into something ordinary that has become sacred to so many over the last 60 years. To contribute money to DuBois 6.0 and help us replace these windows, visit our website. I look forward to the opportunity for many more sacred encounters in Oak Lodge.
Blessings, Hayley Elliott, Acting Director of Outdoor Ministries