These twisted swirling reflections caught my eye as we walked past Haddington’s oldest church last weekend. It’s the Collegiate Church of St Mary the Virgin, and has been here since 1380. Because the glass is very old it’s not machine produced and so is far from perfectly flat. This is what produces such beautifully distorted reflections of the tree behind me. I felt as though I was looking into water swirling with ink, as even a tiny shift of my position sent the reflections drifting and spinning into new shapes. It fits beautifully into Ailsas weekly challenge of glass
The windows made me think of the phrase “Through a glass darkly”, which comes from Corinthians, and highlights the poor reflections of reality we see around us. If we are mirrors in which others can see themselves, how clearly do we reflect, how much distortion do we create? The happier I am within myself, the more likely that my reflecting glass will be calm and smooth, and others will see themselves reflected more clearly. When I’m angry and unhappy with myself, my glass is rippled and unclear, and I reflect that anger and unhappiness back towards others, highlighting their flaws instead of their beauty. At time the world is a beautiful, distorted and confusing place to live.
This church was built after confusing times, when in 1356 Edward III of England burnt and looted Haddington and its monastery The Lamp of Lothian, the pilgrimage Virgin Shrine at Whitekirk, and Edinburgh itself, in revenge for the Scots taking back Berwick the previous year. Human nature is reflected poorly in the history of these times past, but human resilience is clearly reflected in the rebuilding of all that was destroyed.