Sunday morning at the cathedral


I never tire of looking at it. From the inside out or from the outside in. And in Strasbourg, you can see the spires of the gothic cathredral towering over everything else. It's been my landmark for six weeks. Across town. To the office. Back to the apartment. Walking or biking. I know where I am when I can see the cathedral.

The "Big Rose" window of the Cathdral of our Lady of Strasbourg (Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg) has a diameter of almost 50 feet. Though storms and wars have damaged it, some of the stained glass, dating from 1290, is still original. It has 16 gorgeous petals.

From the mid 1600s to the mid 1800s, this cathedral was the world's tallest builidng (it's still the world's sixth tallest church). The first Christmas tree, so it is said, was displayed here. Five years ago, I was in the cathedral for a glorious Christmas eve service at midnight, and the Christmas market outside draws visitors from all over the region during the Christmas season.

The window is wonderfully inspiring. As I view it again, and remember the reason for this devotion, the birth of the Christ child, I am reminded of a poem from another tradition of Celtic pilgrims:

When Jesus came to earth as a baby,
He depended entirely on human love -
That of Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
When Jesus preached and healed,
He depended entirely on human love -
The alms given by those who heard him.
I too depend on human love.
The kindness of others sustains my soul.
The gifts of others sustain my body.
Every person depends on others' love.
Let no one be ashamed of their needs.
To depend on others is to imitate Christ.

Back home in Goshen in the weeks to come, remembering this window, maybe I can also remember this poem. Imitating Christ. It's a goal not possible to reach, of course, but even trying will make the window worthwhile.

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