“Behind the scenes, sacred synchronicity happens.”

Thus Kel Rolf began her introduction to my guest post on her blog, about aging. We’d seen several examples of it as we (or, rather, God?) coordinated our efforts on that post. And then, even more synchronicity happened…

To illustrate the post, which I’d sent her ahead of time, she created this mixed media art:

Copyright, Kel Rolf, 2016. Used by permission.

Because of technical hindrances, I didn’t get to see it till the final draft was published. But was it ever appropriate, and “timely”!

It grabbed my gut. It haunted.

It reminded me of the scripture that says “Now we see through a glass darkly…” And of something else I’ll share below…


Do you see a face in the window? (In just a glance, you might not.)

When I did on my second glance, it surprised me.

The colors surprised me.

I think I expected any depiction of a window to show wild autumnal colors flying beyond it, the flamboyant, exotic colors of future possibilities. Instead, I got a view inward—and the sense of someone’s inability to see out to those shining possibilities, either in this present life or beyond.

This startle couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Amid the plans with Kel for this cooperative effort, I’d suddenly found myself, my life, surrounded by a mess of varied, bittersweet colors swirling chaotically—more bitter than sweet, I might have said, as I started taking on a view like that of the windowed person above.

But more than that, it led my mind right to the quote I’d “just happened upon” and had almost added to that guest post, but instead withheld for the next post on aging:

      Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our lives. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is the fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness . . .

     But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence… by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one shall take away from us.”

-Henri Nouwen

The startle that brought me back to the view beyond, to which Nouwen points us, also probed my heart with the question, Where is your focus? On your own reflections in life’s window, or through that glass darkly, to faith-glimpses of glorious beauty, light, and joy beyond?


In future “Themesday” (Thursday) posts on aging and the winter of our lives, I plan to explore the earthly possibilities still dancing free and fresh, beyond the glass of the present year. But even if those possibilities all get crushed and lie crumbled, the view to which Nouwen points us shines, bright and more than hopeful, further beyond. Look out there, strain your vision outward toward God, and you’ll see it. Ask, and He’ll open it up to you.


“Keep on asking, keep on seeking” (Luke 11:9NKJV, AMP).

“For now we see as through a glass darkly, but then face to face” ( 1 Cor 13:12KJV).


10 thoughts on “Beyond the Window, What Do You See?

  1. Sylvia- I did not see the face until you pointed it out. I love the Nouwen quote and the paradoxes of life…yes every part of life is touched by death. But also tinted with hope when we gaze into the face of God. Funny thing about the collage. I started out with golden yellows and burnt oranges and fiery reds, and your poem is actually on of the layers now obscured. I stamped leaf prints and then when I tried to stencil the “window” it didn’t work, so I sprayed it again with the dark and then scraped some white paint that blended with the dark purple giving a frosted look to the panes. I love that a face can be found in the art…totally God reaching out to both of us! What a joy and deep honor it has been to collaborate on this. Blessings-Kel

  2. Wow!
    You know, I was going to ask you if you purposely put a face there or not. Because sometimes it showed up well and other times it was quite obscure, and I’d thought it might have just been one of those “happy accidents” that happen sometimes with art. (Or maybe I was just seeing things that weren’t there! My eyes do play tricks on me sometimes…) If I’d asked before I published this post, I might not have published it. So glad I did. I had read the Nouwen quote shortly before all this—well, the last, underlined part. Then I’d looked it up and found its context on line. The face, the bright colors I had expected but didn’t see—that brought the quote to mind again. What adds yet more meaning to this whole thing is to find out the bright colors really were there, hidden under the blues. And yes, I can see the tinges of some of them now! My! What a trip!

  3. I love this eloquent post, Sylvie, and it reminds me that God gives us heartsight to see internal realities that are not so visible to the eye. I know too often I avoid the inward journey, which is one reason I love journaling. It takes me inward every time. Luci Shaw wrote a lovely poem about seeing beyond what is immediately on the windowpane, and the galaxies one can see when focusing beyond it. I have a feeling we have galaxies in our souls, too. And the Nouwen quote is potent. Admittedly, I often see things tinged with sadness. But your post gives me hope and the encouragement to look beyond the sadness and to focus on heavenly realities. When I do, my life can be just as easily tinged with joy. Bless you for writing this.
    And I LOVED Kel’s painting. I’ll swear there is a face in there, so her words surprised me. 🙂

  4. “Galaxies in our souls.” That takes my mind on a wondering journey! Yes, I think there may be. Once when asked who or what I perceived myself to be, I answered, “I am an infinite number of possibilities.” That coalesces with the many galaxies within, doesn’t it? As for Nouwen’s beautiful and profound quote, I’m not sure every tiny event in life is noticeably sadness-tinged, but there’s undeniably plenty of sadness blending in with the joyous, in all areas of life. And, I muse, doesn’t God allow it to be that way in order to make us hungry, to draw our gaze out to the greater, more glorious possibilities in Him, in His presence, in His kingdom? I think so.
    (And, Lynni, I’m glad to know someone else saw a face there!) 😉

  5. Oh Sylvia! Now I see! The face! This is really a beautiful thing to witness between you and Kel. God knits us together in ways that surprise us and rven sometimes haunt us like you shared. I hope the two of you colaborate some more. I am blessed!

    1. It has been amazing, hasn’t it, Kelly? I am thankful to be getting acquainted with you through this, too. Growing fellowship here, a lovely gift from God. And I too would like to do more collaborating with Kel in the future. Thanks for the blessing of your comment!

  6. Sylvia: I saw this picture on Kel’s blog. Originally, I thought I saw more than one face in the windows. This is a very interesting painting. As I study it, I see three faces. Bless you on your poetic endeavors.

  7. Guess what, Cecelia! I saw three faces, too! The second appeared for me shortly after the first, then the third, a little light-colored, historical-looking face kept coming into view right in part of the first portrait! This is almost better than an ink blot experiment!

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