Building a Cathedral with Light

This post is the continuation of Building a Cathedral with Structure, where we explored how establishing a Christian marriage is similar to building a Gothic cathedral. In the previous post, we looked at the structural technologies of the cathedral.

Beauvais. I was so embarrassed for this cathedral that I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of the modern beams.

Beauvais. I was so embarrassed for this cathedral that I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of the modern beams.

There is one more point to mention regarding structure before we move on. Historically, cathedrals competed with each other to be the tallest and grandest in the land. This wasn’t necessarily the best plan. The cathedral in Beauvais, for example, was built with such pointed human ambitions (to be taller than the cathedral in Amiens) that today, it requires modern support beams (very visible and very gauche) in order to remain standing. Direct correlation to our marriage: comparing our relationship to others’ leads to our demise. Instead, my husband and I must build our own, unique cathedral according to God’s plan for us.

Now that we have done that along with integrating pointed arches, flying buttresses, and ribbed vaults, our cathedral can stand solid. But “existing” is not the ultimate purpose of a cathedral, is it?

When I step inside a cathedral, beyond the ingenious stone architecture and the enormity of size, the one thing that never fails to take my breath away is the stained glass. These magnificent pieces of artwork typically tell Biblical stories or depict Biblical figures. The physics of the Gothic structures has the columns bear the weight, taking pressure off of the walls and allowing them to be made of colored glass. Incredible.

At this point, I can’t help but think about the purpose for which cathedrals were built. Each cathedral is a majestic place where people can be brought closer to God. Shouldn’t this, then, also be the purpose of our Christian marriage?

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

And here’s the thing about stained glass windows: they are impressive as is, but they are unparalleled in splendor when seen as they were meant to be seen: with light shining through them. Stained glass windows were built for light. Equipping our cathedral with solid structure, my husband and I are now free to write love on her walls and let light shine in.

Indeed, letting the light in brings out the purpose and beauty of the cathedral.

Windows are not the only element of the cathedral that bathe the place in light. Flying buttresses, our exterior support system, not only provide necessary support but also allow light to penetrate. Fortunately for us, the people we surround ourselves with don’t wall us in. They enhance us so we may fulfill our purpose.

As my husband and I work on our (far from perfect) marriage, I am inspired by this image of building a great Gothic cathedral. Majestic heights, stable and grounded, built with light. What a beautiful legacy.


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