Last Sunday I do believe I was given the chance to see a sliver of heaven. As discussed by Shannon and I on the train home from Chichester, England, there are places on Earth that are especially reflective of the glory of God and the glorious place that is heaven, and we both agree that Chichester is without a doubt one of those places.
Chichester Cathedral is 900 years old and its presence in the city is both solidifying and majestic. What struck me initially by the interior of the cathedral was its unique combination of historical and contemporary art and architecture. Never before had I been inside a cathedral – a very old one at that – and experienced such a wide chronological span of art and structure. Immediately it renders you mindful of the God that was and IS and is yet to come -one who isn’t locked into ‘bible times’ as many people perceive Him to be, possibly because of the literally ‘old’ nature of the multitudes of church buildings around the world.
One of my favorite, and one of the most inspiring parts about visiting Chichester Cathedral was experiencing what is called ‘The Marc Chagall Window’. Painted by Chagall in 1978 the stunning stained glass window is based on Psalm 150: ‘O praise God in His holiness…..let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.’ Fortunately the cathedral allows photographs so I got to snap this shot!!
On a plaque that sits to the right of the window, it describes the action in the scene with the words ‘…it is the people in festive mood, exalting His greatness and His creation.’ In addition, the caption explains that there are instruments involved, but also that the colors were chosen specifically to exemplify and inspire celebration and praise of the Lord, coinciding with the scripture from Psalm 150. As I stood there revering in the window’s beauty and Chagall’s talent I was all of a sudden reminded of how many ways there are to worship and adore our Father in heaven. While the window is intended to depict people worshipping more traditionally with instruments and song, the artistic wonder of the window is absolutely a form of worship in and of itself. How marvelous that even the use of color can be a form of worship, and how wonderful it is that God has created, and then bestowed upon us such beautiful tools and ways by which to praise Him!
Following my visit to the cathedral, I got to spend most of the rest of the day wandering around Chichester trying to absorb as much of it as I possibly could. I ended up taking a long walk along the city’s walls (half of which was in the rain). The trail that followed the walls led me through a breathtaking green with an old chapel and idyllic English homes lining its border. It was sprinkling but the sun was subtly peeking through the clouds enough to give the whole park that divine kind of glow that illustrates for us once again how beautiful God is, and what a gift He has given us through creation – a means by which we might clearly see and praise Him more.
Interestingly enough, my day in Chichester only served to perpetuate a lesson I’ve been in the process of learning while working for Matryoshka Haus. I will continue to elaborate on this lesson, but in a nutshell – quit putting God in a box. Living in a ‘Christian culture’, if you let it can sometimes cause you to mentally put God in a box in regard to how and where you worship Him, how and where to serve Him and others, as well as putting limits on what He alone CAN do – which is immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine! God’s splendor and capability is limitless and when we ‘box Him in,’ we limit what He can do through us for His great kingdom.