Saturday, August 14, 2010

Story in Stained Glass

I visited St. Mary's Mariposa the other day. I was struck by the beauty of the stained glass windows. On closer inspection, I began to notice stories from the parish history (or, rather, the people of the parish -- but that's the same thing, isn't it)....reflected in the windows.

The stained glass window that has what looks to be shields around the image of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane intrigued me. I apologize for the lack of clarity in the photo -- but there are words in the shields, and images. Quoting the booklet on the windows that the people of St. Mary's produced: "(The shields) represent the Episcopal Church diocese in those states where people of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps -- an exodus experience:
Wyoming -- Heart Mountain
California -- Tule Lake and Manzanar
Arizona -- Gila River and Poston
Utah -- Topaz
Colorado -- Amache
Arkansas-- Rowher and Jerome
Idaho -- Minidoka

There is also the patch of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose slogan was 'Go for Broke'. This most decorated regiment of World War II consisted of Japanese American 'Nisei' from Hawaii and the mainland. Over 150 soldiers were from St. Mary's".

What an incredible witness to the history of the people of St. Mary's! I was also struck by the image of Snoopy of Peanuts fame in one of the windows -- it was given in remembrance of a young boy who died of a brain tumor who was visited by Fr. Yamazaki, the priest at the time at St. Mary's. The young boy had a stuffed Snoopy by his bedside all during his illness.

Talking with the clergy at St. Mary's (Richard Van Horn, Marilyn Omernick, Butch Gamarra), what became clear is that, as this congregation has been working toward calling its next rector, there is a "new" stained glass "pattern" that is developing. As the demographics around the neighborhood of this historically Japanese parish has changed, so has the mission and ministry focus of the parish. A Spanish speaking service has been started, as well as a community garden (picture of the garden top right). St. Mary's Mariposa, with its rich history, is moving to embrace who they have been and who God is calling them to be. While there is still work to do, a trip to this beautiful church is worth it -- not only does it have an interesting and unique history that is told in its windows, but it is moving out to create a new history for itself.

I wonder if we all took a look at who our neighbors are, and embraced them, what this diocese would look like? Hmmmm.....

1 comment:

  1. Stained glass is my favorite feature of a church. I can sit and look at it or pray for hours. Examples like what you have shared here are so touching. Memorials like these are so very touching, and show the depth of relationship we can have with our parish families. We are not just a bunch of people who get together for an hour or so on Sunday mornings.