George Floyd’s murder haunts us all. The residents of my city have been demonstrating, sometimes burning, grieving, soul-searching, filing charges, weeping, chanting, and helping one another. I have been in bed for the last week with COVID-19-like symptoms; my test came back “not consistent” with the virus today. While quarantined in my room, I have had a lot of time to think and pray.
There are many images of murder in the windows of Chartres. This one, previously unknown to me, was the pane of stained glass that I was scheduled to pray with today. It illustrates a horrific story in which Constantine’s doctors insisted that the only way to cure his leprosy was to have him bathe in the freshly shed blood of 3,000 infants. In this panel, the bloodbath is being prepared. Look carefully at some familiar elements in this troubling image: murder used to benefit those with power,
the killing of those whose power to resist their murder is limited,
There is also a hopeful element in the image, a messenger who brings orders for the massacre to stop.
In meditating on this image I identify myself as one aligned with power that has literally destroyed the lives of others. I must and desire to work harder, smarter, and more truthfully to make things right in my beloved city, nation, and world.
When you consider these images and your life, what do you discover within yourself?
What are you going to do about it?
God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Show me the wicked ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Invitation to Prayer:
Gaze with honesty at each of those shown this image. What are your prayers of response?
God said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” Genesis 4:10 NRSV
To Understand the Image Better
These images are of the bath of blood in the Sylvester window at the Chartres Cathedral (1210-15).
Other Posts in this Series
Introduction: Life and Death
Passion & Resurrection Window: Talking about Death
Suffering; Hanging On Before Letting Go; Goodbye
John the Evangelist Window: Considering Our Lives; Possibilities in Times of Grief; Consider This!
Magdalene Window: The Many Faces of Mourning; Grieving, Then and Now; Water: In Life & Death; Resurrection; The Importance of A Face; Welcome As A Blessing
The Glorification of the Virgin Window: Dying in Community; Your Soul; Carrying Death