The Prodigal Son Window: Suggestions for Prayer

The Window: An Introduction
This thirteenth century (1205-1215) stained glass window has thirty panels. It is found on the western side of the north transept next to the corner. The best time of the day to pray with this window is in the later afternoon when it is best lit. It is one of the few windows in the cathedral based on one of Jesus’ parables.
Wisdom Ways Labyrinth Building

Wisdom Ways Labyrinth Building

 

Read The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Sit quietly and contemplate it for at least five minutes. Focus on what jumped out to you today.

Suggestions for praying with the window

Find a comfortable place to sit where you can look at the window. Ask God to show you what you most need to see. Then gaze at the window with an open mind and heart.

Consider:
How do you feel as you look at this window? What sensations are you aware of? Is it triggering any memories?
What colors do you see? Is there one that is speaking to you more strongly than the others?
What shapes are you noticing? What are they communicating to you?
What else are you perceiving?
Make notes in your journal before you go on.
Begin reading again, following the story as it unfolds in this medieval window.
Use the diagram from the University of Pittsburg site on Chartres Cathedral to find different scenes in the window as you read through the story again.

Prodigal Son Window Diagram

The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

The prodigal son asks his father for his inheritance

So he divided his property between them.Father giving his son his interitance

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country…

The younger son leaves

…and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

Prodigal son with a woman

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

Son hiring himself out

He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

Son tending the swine

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

Son making his way home

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Son speaks with his father

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Father welcomes the son home

Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

Killing the fatted calf

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Preparing the feast

So they began to celebrate.

Feasting

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Older son and father discuss the situation

 

More Suggestions for Prayer:

After you have “seen” the story, sit quietly and contemplate its meanings for your life.
When you are ready, write out a prayer in response.
If possible, share your thoughts, feelings, and prayer with a trusted friend.

What to respond?