My stained glass work is influenced by the account of Jesus walking on the waters of Lake Galilee (Mt14:22-33). The story follows that of the feeding of the 5,000, when Jesus directs his disciples to cross the lake by boat to the other side, whilst he withdraws in solitude to the neighbouring hills to pray. Later that evening however, he sees the disciples in difficulties trying to make headway against the strengthening winds on the lake.
Within the boat, the disciples become increasingly distressed as they struggle to control the vessel. Their anxieties are further exacerbated by, what appears to be, an apparition approaching over the surface of the water. Appreciating their fears, Jesus reassures them, “Don’t worry, it is I. Don’t be frightened.” Peter responds, “Lord, if it really is you, let me come and join you”. Jesus then beckons him out of the boat onto the choppy waters. As Peter ventures towards him, he begins to experience the full force of the storm. Suddenly, he finds himself sinking. Jesus, reaching out to catch him, challenges, “ Ye of little faith! Why did you doubt?”
At this point, It’s worth noting that earlier in his gospel, Matthew (8:23-27) tells of another storm during which Jesus is lying asleep in the boat while his disciples struggle to navigate the prevailing storms. They waken him pleading “Lord, save us”. “Don’t you care that we’re drowning!” In this instance, Jesus takes control and commands the wind and waves, “Peace, be still.” The storm instantly subsides.
Turning our attention to this present time and reflecting on our personal circumstances, none of us will have been left unaffected by the pandemic, although each of us undoubtedly will have been affected in differing and varying ways. This could have been through the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment or perhaps of income. Or it may be that the loss of personal freedom or restrictions on the company of our beloved friends and family have resulted in feelings of loneliness, frustration, anxiety or depression. Along with the disciples amidst the storm on Lake Galilee, each time we imagine we’re making headway through these difficult times, further distressing news assails us.
As you reflect on my stained glass image, undoubtedly you will observe that it depicts an empty vessel. The ghost-like image of Jesus is portrayed close at hand. This is designed to encourage us to place ourselves within the boat along with those relevant to our personal circumstances. I would encourage you to read the two texts mentioned above in Matthew’s gospel, then turn your attention to your current situation. Try to identify those who accompany you in your ‘boat’ over this moment in time. These may include friends, family, or indeed some particularly challenging issue. Alternatively, you may be feeling totally isolated and very much alone. Whatever your circumstance:
- Stay with your thoughts and imagine Jesus close at hand.
- What might he be saying to you in your situation?
- Allow his healing grace to envelope you.
- Recall the command he gave to the wind and waves –
“Peace, be still!”