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Poetry Pleases: The Great East Window

…Almost every day he came to the library, stooped and carrying a worn shopping bag and every day he told me the same stories as he collected his books. "Did I ever tell you that I worked at York Minster?”….

Joyce Worsfold was moved to write a poem about the life of the old man

So it would go on, and I never tired of hearing of how at the age of 14 he had been apprenticed and how he had worked on the restoration of that great window and how that had been his life’s work.

It set me thinking of how, throughout these past 2,000 years so many people have worked to build for the glory of God. Vast cathedrals, small country churches, intricate carvings, magnificent windows.Every skill God has given to man being used for his glory.

Keen gardeners bringing their best blooms. Armies of women arranging flowers, People stitching, cutting, pressing making banners that are pure works of art. Photographs and pictures, mounted and displayed proudly on church notice boards. Pews polished, carpets vacuumed, magazines written, processed, photocopied and put together. Feet marching and hands pushing them through letter boxes. Cakes baked, tea made, cups washed. Week by week , Christians are creating their own works of art according to their abilities. How rich are the churches that use them and how poor those that do not .

See that window
Glistening and pouring kaleidoscopic liquors
Into the cool and musky gloom.
That’s a mans life that is,
A whole life in all it’s depths and levels.
For years he poured his craft and care
Into that window
So men could gaze on God in wonder.
With skill and graft of many hours
He put together that rich patchwork.

Close an eye and you will see
The swirling kaleidoscope of his life
The blues of suffering, and of summer skies
The crimson passion, the golde-haired children
The yellow light-filled days and the cool
Green promise of sincerity and then
The purple and black of death and pain.
It is his jewel, that window
His koh-i-nor, his priceless gem
His crown, his cross, his diadem.
Look, it’s not just a window
It’s a life,
His life
And no-one knows or even thinks who made it.
He stands before me, wrinkled and twinkling
with eyes pale and sun-washed
He’s a snow-capped, withered tree
Yet his gnarled branches once
Did work with such great delicacy.
Now they tremble and shake
His teeth do not fit
He moves slowly, wearily yet with dignity
And there is all the richness of the window
In his smile
And all the warmth and simplicity
Of the mellow minster stone
In his voice

He is gone now from my life
But I love him still
And the window not because of its glory
But because of his.


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