Blogs on Chartres By Jill

Death: Stained Glass Images

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A Soul Escorted to Heaven, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionLife and DeathPondering death can seem scary, yet sages in many traditions have encouraged followers to use meditation on our fatal fragility as a way of becoming more engaged in life. St. Benedict wrote in his rule, “Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die.” (4:47)
Jesus Announces His Death, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTalking About DeathDeath isn’t always the easiest subject to discuss. Yet many times a person who is dying has things they want and even need to say to those they love.
Jesus Crucified, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionSufferingThere is an Ignatian practice that invites us to meditate on Jesus suffering on the cross. Gaze gently at this twelfth-century image from the Chartres Cathedral. Now, feel your own suffering and the way it lives within you.
Mary with her dead son, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionHanging On Before Letting GoThis twelfth-century image of Mary interlacing her hands with those of her dead son’s makes sense viscerally.
Jesus Entombed, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionGoodbyeWe often do not get to choose when a goodbye becomes necessary. Jesus’s mother and disciples (shown above) certainly had no idea that they would need to bury their beloved son and teacher just days before it was necessary.
Death of Salthus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionConsidering Our LivesIgnatius of Loyola suggested an important practice for anyone who wants to embody a vital life of faith: Consider your actions as if you were on our deathbed. From that perspective, how would you wish you had made the choice you are facing?
Reflection now can help us to live more fully and have fewer regrets.
John raises the dead, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPossibilities in Times of GriefThe story is told that after a time of exile, John (the writer of the Gospel of John) returned to his home in Ephesus, and discovered a beloved follower was dead. He asked for Drusiana’s shrouded body be brought to him. When it was, he ordered her to get up and make him a meal (!), which she did.
John and Jesus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionConsider This!Jesus appeared to John (the Gospel writer) a week before his death, telling him of his imminent demise and blessing him.
Grief, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionGrieving: Then and NowWe grieve the death of those closest to us. We grieve the loss of those whose lives have touched ours. And in a pandenic time we also grieve those we have never met–and now never will.
Grieving Friends of Lazarus, Chartres CathedralThe Many Faces of MourningGrief has a power of its own, stronger than any effort to control it.
Lazarus's body prepared for burial, Chartres CathedralWater: In Life and Death“From dust to dust” is no more true than “From water to water.”
Resurrection of Lazurus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionResurrectionHaving lived through two near-death experiences, I relate to Lazarus, who was raised by Jesus. I wonder what it was like for him to “wake up” back in his life, still bound in his burial shroud.
Mary Magdalene's soul, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionWelcome As A BlessingThe little naked souls found in medieval windows remind us that we brought nothing into this world and we will take nothing with us.
Mary Magdalene's Funeral, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionThe Importance Of A FaceThe faces of those we love are precious to us–in life and even after they have died.
Mary dying, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionDying in CommunityOne of the many tragedies of COVID-19 is that people are dying alone. At the end, we would like those we love and those who love us to be there.

Mary's Soul in Jesus's arms Chartres CathedralYour SoulHave you ever asked yourself, “What is my soul like?”
Carrying Mary's Casket, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionCarrying DeathGrief is heavy–even heavier than the casket we sometimes are asked to bear.
Bloodbath Stopped, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionMurderGeorge Floyd’s murder haunts us all. The residents of my city have been demonstrating, sometimes burning, grieving, soul-searching, filing charges, weeping, chanting, and helping one another.
St. Anthony's death, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionSeeing with More Than Your EyesPost-modern eyes, a vital part of post-modern brains, have been trained to trust one’s own vision of outer realities. If we can relearn how to look at the inner realities that inform the cells of vision and the decisions that they help us make, we can work for change in ourselves and in our societies. May this medieval image of death help us.
Crucifixion window at Chartres Cathedral by Jill K H GeoffrionMeditating with Christ on the Cross“Gaze meditatively at Christ on the cross,” is a familiar suggestion during Ignatian retreats. Staring at death (literally or symbolically) may not be comfortable, but for the courageous, it can bring deeper meaning to life.
St. Martin, Resurrection at Chartres CathedralResurrectionThere are many stained glass images at Chartres of men, women, and children being brought back to life by saints (usually in the presence of witnesses).
Soul of St. Thomas, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPassageThe death of a friend always involves many passages—for the one who has died as well as for those who are left.

Holy Week at the Chartres Cathedral

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Palm Sunday, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPalm Sunday in Chartres (Remembered)Remember those you have worshipped with in the past. Pray for them, that this Holy Week might draw them deeper into the heart of Christ. Pray that we will all find new ways to be in community. Ask that you might discover ways to encourage others to walk with Jesus this Holy Week.
Chrismal Mass at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionHoly Tuesday in Chartres (Remembered)The Chrismal Mass on Tuesday evening incorporates three important elements: the blessing of the sacramental oils for the next year, the rededication of the clergy to continued service, and communion.
Praying, Notre Dame du Pilier Chapel ChartresWednesday of Holy Week in Chartres (Remembered)On Holy Wednesday the choir and ambulatory of the cathedral are reserved for personal reflection, prayer, and confession. Now is the time to examine one’s heart. Now is the time to connect with the heart of God.
Last Supper, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionMaundy Thursday in Chartres (Remembered)Each service draws the worshipper both closer to the deep love of God and the human need for redemption. Beauty–of the cathedral and especially of the thirteenth century tabernacle in which the consecrated elements of communion are placed during the prayer time late at night–helps to soften the sorrow that is a part of what happened to Christ and that inhabits our hearts.
Crucifix at Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionGood Friday in Chartres (Remembered)I love the cross because God’s love has never more evident than when God allowed Godself to fully experience the worst of what humans do to each other, as well as horrific physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.
Nave of Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionHoly Saturday in Chartres (Remembered)There are no lights, no candles, only hushed voices, and relative quiet in the cathedral on Holy Saturday.
Easter Vigil Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionEaster in Chartres (Remembered)Thankfully, Christ’s rising reminds us of the hope we hold in our hearts.
Palm Sunday, Sculpture, Chartres CathedralPalm SundayAs Holy Week begins, it is helpful to ask “Who is this Jesus?” What words can I choose to express my faith in God? What do my actions communicate about who Jesus is?
Mary Magdalene Anoints Jesus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionMary Prepares Jesus for His DeathMary had a lot of courage. She was willing to believe what Jesus was saying about his impending death. She took his words seriously enough to do something outrageous and needed. May I be more like Mary, willing to accept what is true, and act on it.
Bishop blessing the oils, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionThe Blessing of the OilsAnointing with oil, one way of affirming the connection between humanity and the Divine during important moments, is an ancient practice. I want to appreciate every gift that God has given, including the gift of my body as a sacred vessel.
Last Supper, Sculpture Chartres CathedralJesus's Last Meal with His DisciplesWhen I take communion, I feel grateful for Jesus’ presence, even though he died two thousand years ago.
Tabernacle detail Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionJesus on the CrossThe crucifixion of Jesus is a horrible thing to contemplate. The cross was often shown as green in the thirteenth century, because Jesus’ death also brought life. On this day of sorrow, I am trying to hold the paradox of life-death in my mind, heart, and body with gratitude and peace.
The Passion Window at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionHoly SaturdayOn this day of silence, let us contemplate the love of God.
Paschal Vigil, Chartres by Jill GeoffironChrist Is Risen!Christ’s resurrection is our hope. Easter services, images, and encounters fill me with its joy.
Walking to Emmaus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionEaster & The Road to EmmausChrist is truly with us, but like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we don’t see Him. Like them, we are unaware that our hearts, burning within us with the joy of the resurrection, are a sign of His presence.
Magdalene Window, ChartresResurrection Joy: EasterIs resurrection possible? Sometimes God’s choices don’t make any sense.
Entombment of Jesus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMourning: Holy SaturdayThere is grief so big that silence is the only response.
Jesus on Cross, Tabernacle, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus on the CrossThe beauty of Jesus’ death is a terrible but essential truth of the Christian faith.
Jesus washes Peter's Feet, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFollowing Jesus's ExampleWhat I do is the point of what I believe.
Judas at the Last Supper, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJudasJudas appears in the Scripture readings of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. Betrayal is a painfully real part of human experience.
Anointing of the Sick, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBlessing of the OilsValuing the body is part of our Christian heritage–yet we forget. Reminders, like the blessing of the oils remind us how much God values our physicality.
Washing Jesus's Feet, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Importance of FeetJesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet has always moved me. That Mary cared for Jesus’ feet just six days beforehand moves me too.

Mary & The Chartres Labyrinth

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Mary Throne, Apsidal Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary and Jesus: East WindowWhile walking and praying the labyrinth in Chartres, images of Mary have reminded me of God’s love. In the coming days and weeks I will be sharing a variety of these depictions of Jesus’ mother with you. Today I start with the image of Mary that is most visible from entrance of the labyrinth and when arriving at its center. Mary, as depicted in the Chartres Cathedral, is a support for Jesus–as his mother, his disciple, and even as in this image, as his throne.
Annunciation, East Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGabriel and Mary: The Apsidal WindowI am often surprised by what God communicates while I move on a labyrinth. While walking in God’s presence, it seems easy, even natural, to accept what I “hear.” This is one of the great gifts of praying while using a labyrinth, the turning path seems to support fluidity in me.
Visitation, East Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary and Elizabeth: The Apsidal WindowWalking with friends through life helps to ground me. Being able to share what God is doing in our lives is a source of deep peace and encouragement.
Mary, Tree of Jesse, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary in the Tree of JesseTo feel connected to Mary is to feel connected to her family of physical and spiritual ancestors who sit and stand together in the Tree of Jesse window in the west, watching over the cathedral, reminding us all that we never walk alone.
Annunciation, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Annunciation of Jesus's BirthSometimes God is full of surprises. Mary helps me remember that I can always respond with total honesty.
The Visitation, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Visitation of Mary & ElizabethFriends speak volumes to one another without needing words. My understanding of others sometimes comes from our bodies reveal.
Mary, Nativity, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity of JesusMary reminds me that as I reach towards those I love with a desire to bless them, I need to hold onto myself too. Healthy caring involves balance.
Mary Throne, Magi Visit, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionVisit of the MagiSharing life is richer when I ask those I’m with to tell me about what they are experiencing. Even though we are in the same place, our interpretations of what we are living is likely different.
Return from Egypt, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionReturn from EgyptFleeing political oppression is almost as ancient as human history. What is new is how I choose to respond to it today.
Flight to Egypt, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFlight to Egypt: Life of Christ WindowActing on wisdom that arrives from God takes courage, grit, and trust. Joseph inspires me to let the journey of life unfold, no matter where it seems to be heading.
Mary, Top of Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Throne with Sun and MoonHow often we walk without awareness. Above the labyrinth in Chartres is a twelfth-century image of Jesus blessing. Mary*, the sun (Jesus’ right at the level of Jesus’ heart), the moon (Jesus’ left), and two angels seem to offer support as they surround him. When I look up from the labyrinth I remember that God’s love often seems invisible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t present.
Mary below the cross, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Witnessing Jesus's DeathSuffering is interwoven with life. Even God suffers. By remaining present to the pain that others’ experience, God can use me to love.
Mary holds Jesus's hands after his death, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Holds Her Dead Son's HandsWhen there are no words, touch still speaks. Even death isn’t powerful enough to kill all connection. As long as I am alive, I can reach for what I love or loved.
Mary Silent as Jesus is buried, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Silence of MaryWhen something is so horrible that it is inappropriate to speak, I can follow Mary’s example by keeping my hands and heart open.
Mary Breastfeeding Jesus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Breastfeeding JesusGod was willing to depend on a woman, as all humans must do, to be nurtured unto life and nourished unto health. I am grateful to Mary, my older sister, whose example reminds me that maternal love is very precious.
Mary on the Organ, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary of the OrganChanging where I look changes what I find. While walking labyrinth path in Chartres by watching the floor, I would never image that this sculpture of Mary holding Jesus is “watching over me” from above.
Shirt on the Pulpit, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Bishop's PulpitA piece of cloth that Mary may have worn at either the Annunciation or the birth of Jesus is kept with reverence in Chartres. Since this “veil” was kept safely in a locked box throughout the Middle Ages, people thought of it as a shirt. In Chartres there are over 100 depictions of Mary’s shirt, including one on the Bishop’s pulpit in the nave, right above the labyrinth. This wooden symbol of Mary’s care for Jesus, surrounded by roses and lilies, reminds me that as I walk through life God’s fragrant love is never far away.
St. John Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFlight to Egypt: John WindowAt the bottom of the St. John window is an image of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph fleeing the threat of death. John, persecuted for his Christian faith, was exiled to the Greek island of Patmos, less than sixty-six nautical miles from where today’s hundreds of thousands of refugees make their first stop on Kos. While walking the labyrinth, this scene of suffering calls me to move with the questions, “How I might be contributing to the suffering of others?” and “How may I participate in what God desires for those who are seeking safety in our very broken world?”
Mary's Deathbed, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's DeathbedWe are all walking towards death. As I move on the labyrinth in Chartres, this tender image of Mary dying while surrounded by the grief-struck disciples reminds me that as natural as loss is, it hurts.
Mary's Soul, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's SoulBeing with God involves complete vulnerability and acceptance. As I walk the Chartres labyrinth I look at Jesus holding Mary’s soul and I am reminded that God respects me (Jesus holds Mary in his cloak–in the middle ages one did not touch things considered holy with bare hands) and blesses me (Jesus’ right hand) just as I am (Mary is small and naked).
Carrying Mary's Casket, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus's Disciples Carry Mary's CasketCarrying our loss is hard. The sharing of grief makes it bearable.
Glorification of Mary Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Death of MaryRecalling our intimate connection with the earth and our own mortality is grounding. I orient my life by keeping death in view on the horizon.
Assumption of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Assumption of MaryTransitions involve stretching, openness, and change. The practice of praying using a labyrinth has taught me a great deal about each. This image of Mary’s assumption into Heaven (a doctrine which as a Protestant seems very foreign) comforts me–the angels are there to help!
Crowning of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus Crowning Mary“Thee, O God, we praise,” is written in Latin on each side of this image. Christ is placing a crown on Mary’s head. At first glance, this image is hard for me as a Protestant to understand. I look more carefully and notice how Mary is directing attention to her son, the Risen Christ. Above them I see the Holy Spirit (symbolized by a dove) extending red symbols of God’s blessing to both. This image of Mary being crowned by the King of Kings, who wears no crown, expresses His appreciation and respect. I too appreciate and respect Mary for her “Yes,” to God, daily fulfilling the challenge of mothering Jesus, and devotion to her son during his ministry, death, and after his resurrection.
Coronation of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Coronation of Mary
“Thy will be done,” is a prayer for all seasons. While walking the labyrinth I often reflect on the highs and lows of my life. Like Mary in this image, I ask God for the grace and courage to accept whatever comes.
Mary at Jesus's Crucifixion by Jill GeoffrionMary at Jesus's CrucifixionMany people can walk one labyrinth at the same time, although each lives and integrates the experience differently. This image of Mary mourning below the cross of Jesus reminds me that even in times of deep isolation, the presence of others is a balm.
Mary at Resurrection, Vendome, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary & The Resurrection of the DeadAs I walk the labyrinth and look at this image of Mary honoring Christ, Ruler Over All, I am grateful to have an older sister whose example of directing others to God inspires me. May I follow more closely in her footsteps.
Mary Throne with Jesus on her lap, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Throne with Jesus on Her LapImages of Mary’s strong gaze, extending over Jesus who sits on her lap while blessing, surround those walking on the labyrinth. Mary and her son are visible whether one looks east, west, north or south where this image is found. The two incensing angels remind me that Love is holy and honorable.
Mary & Theophilus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary & Theophilus: Miracles of Mary WindowWhile walking the labyrinth, I can see the images that relate to a thirteenth century miracle play. In it, a priest named Theophilus sells his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a bishop. Later, realizing how big a mistake he has made, he asks for Mary’s help.
Miracles of Mary Window Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMiracles of Mary WindowThis modern (1927) image of Mary and Jesus, based on the statue of Mary in the crypt (Notre Dame Sous Terre), asks the viewer to consider the value of looking to the past (Mary with her eyes closed) and to the future (Jesus with his eyes open, looking straight ahead). As I walk the labyrinth it also reminds me to gaze within while also seeing what is right in front of me.
Virgin and Donors, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionNorth Clerestory RoseThere are so many ways to pray. Whether on my knees or walking the labyrinth, the important thing is the connection I make with God.
Mary Clerestory Rose ChartresNorth Clerestory RoseWe walk the labyrinth under this image of holy gestation. As I look up to it, I ask God to infuse all that I create with the Holy Spirit (the six doves who are sending red light that encircles Jesus in the womb) so that it will be a great blessing to others (just as Christ is blessing with his right hand).
Bridan Sculpture Choir, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBridan Sculpture in the ChoirMary’s open arms, reaching out to God, inspire me to pray for the ability to abandon myself with trust.

Mary: The Nativity (Jesus's Birth)

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Nativity, Jubé Chartres by Jill GeoffrionChristmas LoveChristmas is the joy of God’s arrival. Christmas is the joy of sharing our lives and our love with God.
Nativity sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTouchingThe closeness of mother and newborn is a beautiful thing. This representation of the Nativity reminds me that being a new mother has its awkward moments too!
Nativity Sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPondering Jesus's BirthGod’s ways often don’t line up with how we think things should be done. God’s choice of coming to earth as a baby gives us all something to ponder deeply. How can this be? What does it mean? Who is God–really? Deep questions spring from my heart and mind.
The Nativity, Life of Mary, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity: Animal CompanionsTradition places the a bull and a donkey near the Christ child after his birth. While Mary reaches for her son and Joseph contemplates in this medieval image of the Nativity, Jesus looks towards his animal companions. I wonder what it was like for the Creator to know creation from inside the human experience.
Nativity, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTouching GodDuring these twelve days of Christmas I enter the Nativity story through each of its characters, including the animals.

Lunar Eclipse, Supermoon

A Mother's PrayersMothers all over the world seek God’s help as we pray. We ask for wisdom to teach our children what is most important, the ability to love them in the ways they need, and for God’s will to manifest in their lives.

Mary: Visions of Mary (Book by Jill)

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Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Blue Virgin Window at ChartresWhere do your eyes go first when you look at this image? Look again, which face is drawing you? Did you focus on Jesus or Mary? We are all conditioned to interpret reality. We can also learn to look at familiar sites and themes with fresh eyes.
Apsidal Chapel, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionLooking Towards GodVisions of Mary: Art, Devotion, and Beauty at Chartres Cathedral places Mary within the context of her “home” at Notre Dame de Chartres. The stained glass of the cathedral sometimes speaks of her directly, and sometimes reminds those in prayer to look towards God, just as she did.
Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNotre Dame de ChartresWalking around a corner in Chartres, France I came upon two tourists. Their mouths were literally open, their eyes big, and their bodies still. They were seeing the west façade of the cathedral for the first time.
Assumption of Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionAn Angel's Point of ViewPerspective matters. What if you saw from above, instead of from below?
Fulbert healed by Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionMary's ExampleBernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote, “…never forget the example of Mary’s life.” How does (or how can) the example of Mary’s life inspire you?
Mary, West Wall Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionQuestioningThe Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) of Jesus’ birth by Gabriel didn’t make sense to Mary. She wanted to understand, so she asked a question. Our faith grows stronger when we engage with God honestly.
Annunciation, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionReally?When caught by complete surprise, I often wonder, “God, are you in this?!” I rarely predict how God is going to manifest in my life.
Veil of Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionWrapped in LoveLove is communicated through touch, color, word, symbol, even fabric. Imagine the love baby Jesus felt wrapped up in Mary’s “veil,” held securely next to her warm body and beating heart.
Margurite, Donor, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionDevotionA French ecumenical group that studied Mary suggests that if you are Protestant, it may be helpful to ask Jesus to further introduce you His mother. If you are Catholic or Orthodox, it may be useful to ask Mary to help you know Jesus better.
West Wall Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionLiftedGothic architecture lifts us heavenward. Even if God isn’t “up” above, Chartres Cathedral’ moves us towards God’s Presence.
Presentation at the Temple at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThere's More...There is always more to a story than the central plot line. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple because it was required of them. God used the experience to reveal far more than they could have imagined.
Mary Throne at Chartres CathedralCelebrating LifeLife, may I celebrate all that I have lived and all that lives in me.
Notre Dame Sous Terre, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBlessingContributing to another’s wellbeing is one of the definitions of blessing. In religious art a well-known symbol of blessing involves the right hand with the pointer and middle fingers raised. The loving touch of holding is surely another symbol of blessing.
Emtombment of Jesus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionSilent GriefSenseless death can, for a time, leave us speechless. We see Mary with a thumb pressed over her lips in this image of Jesus’s entombment.
Flight to Egypt, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionEmbodied SupportWe find a family fleeing the murderous desire of those with power; they are looking into each other’s eyes and finding the courage to keep going. May we never lose the ability to use our embodied presence in ways that bring courage, safety to the vulnerable, and justice for all.
The Nativity: Chartres Cathedral Choir by Jill GeoffrionNew Ways of LookingWhat did Jesus see when he looked at his mother for the first time?
Jesse, the root, Chartres Cathedral by photographer Jill GeoffrionHow Are We All Related?When will we remember that as God’s created children we are part of God’s immense family that includes everyone?
Mary with flowering rod at the Chartres CathedralGenerational LoveHow was Mary prepared to parent Jesus? Who mothered Mary? Whose love made it possible for her to love her son, the Son of God?
Mary at School, Mary window at the Chartres CathedralWhat Does God Have To Say?Mary was most likely young, uneducated, and illiterate when Jesus was born. Why then, would the medieval artists at Chartres show her reading a book while at school?

Sculpture: Creation of Humanity

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Adam's Head in God's Lap, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionLovedTo imagine myself resting in the lap of a tender, loving God–what could bring more peace and joy?
God Creating Adam, Chartres, By Jill GeoffrionGod Loves Adam Into BeingGod’s love is in the details: the soft reach of the head, the slight forward tilt of the upper body, the gentle gaze, the caress of the left hand, the supportive holding of the right hand.
Adam Created by God, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAdam, Safe and Securely CreatedTo come alive while resting securely on God’s broad lap, I can imagine nothing more full of comfort, care, and connection. No wonder Adam is resting his hand so trustingly on God’s knee.
God Creates Eve & Adam, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGod Creates HumanityGod’s touch was the first thing that humans experienced. It brought us to life.
The Creation of Eve, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Creation of EveWhat was Eve aware of first? The touch of creation, the pull of the midwife, the blessing of life all happened in an instant. She experienced them all in her body.

Sculture: Creation of the Natural World

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Created Birds, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionCreating the Birds and FishLetting our imagination “wander” may be part of the process of creating something that seems unrelated.
The Sun, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Sun and the MoonMale and female energies each have their own beautiful contribution.
God creating plants, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionVegetation Created by GodThe power to create is full of potential. How wonderful that God wanted to share it so widely.
God creating plants, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPlants and Trees CreatedWhat fun it must have been to think up things that would begin as a seed, grow, and reproduce, as well as offer shelter, food, and inspiration.
God Creating the Firmament, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGod Creating the FirmamentThe spiritual pulse of the Creator can be experienced in all creation.
Day and Night, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNight and Day Created by GodWhy is it harder to see where things don’t touch, than where they do?
Heaven and Earth, Sculpture Chartres by Jill GeoffrionHeaven and Earth Created by GodI can think of the heavens and the earth as separate–or connected.
Medieval sculptors held all of reality together; I would like to also.

Sculpture: Drama in the Garden of Eden

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Adam in the Garden of Eden, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAdam at Home in the GardenHome for Adam meant standing with a fig and an olive tree. Home, besides being a place, is also relationship with all living companions.
Naming of the Animals, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Heart of NamingNaming involves understanding inner character. This involves seeing with the heart.
Eve in the Garden, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionEve and the SerpentIs it what I fear, or what I am not afraid of that is more dangerous?
Adam Choking on the Apple, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAdam Choking, The Feeling of AlienationIt’s hard to swallow. That’s what rupture in my relationship with God feels like. That and regret.
Adam and Eve Hiding from God, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAlienation HurtsBeing afraid in a relationship often leads me to a favorite hiding place. Once there, instead of finding the peace I hoped for, I feel sad and lonely.
Hiding from God, ChartresNowhere to Hide from God's Searching LoveBroken relationships hurt in so many ways. Vulnerability, telling the truth, and risky reconnection are the only ways I know to get beyond the pain.
Blame in the Garden of Eden, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Blame GameTaking responsibility for my choices–mental, physical, and relational–is the only way to stop playing the blame game. Instead of “S/he (or the Devil) made me do it!” I can simply state the truth, “I made me do it.” It may seem hard to say, but it also will cause the least amount of harm to others and our relationships.
God's Judgement, Chartres CathedralConsequencesConsequences follow the choices I make. Even when they are hard to accept, if I am attentive enough, I can find love in their shadows.
Being sent out of the Garden of Eden, sculpture, Chartres CathedralBeing Sent ForthLeaving what is known for what is unknown can be terrifying, exciting, or an uneventful step in a long process of change. Being sent away has always hurt more than leaving by my choice.
Angel with Flaming Sword, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGuardingI guard what I don’t trust others to care for as I would.
Leaving the Garden of Eden, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionLonging for HomeSometimes, even when it isn’t possible, I want to go home.

Sculpture: God, the Creator

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God's Hand, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionHands of the CreatorOf course God doesn’t have hands. But if God did, they would be big and strong enough to hold and bless everything all at once. Thinking about God’s hands makes me feel safe and secure.
God Holding the Book of Knowledge, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionGod Holding the Book of KnowledgeTrusting God’s firm hold on Reality is as grounding for me as the firmly planted feet of God in this image!
God Creating the Animals, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGod Creating the Garden of EdenConcentration, ability to see what is not yet visible, and freedom to embody possibility are all precursors to creative expression.
God Creating the Animals, ChartresGod Creating the AnimalsWhat a delight to consider possibilities. How exciting to see them realized!
God Imagining Humanity by Jill GeoffrionGod Imagining HumanityThe gift of imagination oftens takes us into the realm of the possible.
Creator God, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionEnvisioning CreationEnvisioning, the ability to perceive far more than the obvious, is part of creation.
God preparing to create, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionDeep ConsiderationWisdom fuels meaningful creation. Consideration of possibilities opens the way.
God the Creator, Chartres Cathedral, France by Jill GeoffrionIn the Beginning, God Created...Creation involves vision and action.
God imagining Adam, North Porch, ChartresInspirationThe thirteenth century sculptors at Chartres depicted God “thinking up” Adam before he was created.

Sculpture: Various

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Jesus Trumeau with N Rose by Jill GeoffrionSeeing the WholeWhen viewing a building–or a person–glimpses that hold the inside and the outside together bring greater understanding and appreciation. May I look for the whole without being distracted by what I can easily perceive.
Adoration of the Shepherds, Sculpture Chartres by Jill GeoffrionI Have You In My HeartWhen the shepherds came to worship the newborn Messiah, they may have also discovered how deeply God loved them. God’s surprises fill me with wonder.
Jubé, Three Kings, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPost-Epiphany, Heading HomeGod can and does use everything to communicate–even my dreams.
Maji Visit Jesus, Sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGuidanceThe story of the Magi’s visit to Jesus reminds me of how much guidance I can receive–if I pay attention.
Thomas Touches Christ's Wound, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPeace Be With YouWho can blame Thomas for wanting to see and believe what seemed impossible? I have a lot of respect for Thomas’ willingness to say what he thought, even though others might not have appreciated it. I have even more respect for Jesus who took him seriously.
Jesus Heals A Blind Man, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionI Want To SeeNot being able to see the way I want, or knowing that I simply can’t “see” what is right in front of me, often drives me to cry out for God’s help.
Joseph Dreaming, Sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionDreaming ChangesHow committed am I to what I think is right? Am I willing to let God change my mind?
South Porch, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFar or NearSome imagine that God is far away. Sculptors and theologians of the thirteenth century in Chartres emphasized the nearness of God. They placed statues of Jesus not only on pinnacles rising from the cathedral, but also on the porches, close to the people who came to the church.
Jesus, West Tympanum, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSculptural InvitationsA sculpture may be just a piece of crafted stone. Or, it may be a window through which I can look to see if Love is home.

Sculptures: Virtues, Vices & Beatitudes

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Virtues Vices Chartres CathedralWho Am I?What helps us consider who we are and who we want to become? Many medieval buildings and manuscripts showed the virtues and vices for this purpose. During this Lenten season of reflection, I am hoping these images of the best and worst of human potential will lead me more deeply into God’s love for me–and my love for God.
Beauty sculpture, Chartres CathedralBeautifulWho is this woman? What does she represent? One author suggests she symbolizes the love of God, standing on roses as she is. A more trusted scholar says she is Beauty personified. As I look into her face, consider the roses on her shield, and contemplate the buds below her feet, I wonder, “What is God’s beauty in me?”
Libertas, Freedom, Chartres CathedralFreeFreedom is one of the wondrous gifts of God. Yet so many of us feel bound up, unable to express who God created us to be. By living as one who is truly free, I am more of who God imagined in the first place.
Honor Sculpture Chartres CathedralHonorableTo be full of integrity is my preferred definition for honorable. At Chartres Cathedral Honor stands next to blooming flowers–integrity is accompanied by such lovely blossoms!
Velocity sculpture, Chartres CathedralJoyfulToday in Chartres we are saying our final goodbyes to a Père Manuel, a priest who served faithfully for sixty-five years. His dedication, ability to observe everything, and devotion to Mary brought him much joy. Yet I believe his joy is even greater now. That is the message of today’s statue of “Heavenly Joy.”
Incensing Sculpture, Chartres CathedralSensualThere are no good answers to the question, “If I had to lose one of my senses, which would I choose?” We are sensual beings, created to enjoy tasting, touching, smelling, hearing, and seeing. I am so deeply grateful for pleasure.
Velocity sculpture, Chartres CathedralAgileAgility and speed have long been understood as a holy combination (notice the halo in the medieval image of Velocity below). Moving in the right way at the right tempo takes practice, concentration, and a willingness to let go.
Courage sculpture, Chartres CathedralStrongCourage in pain or adversity, that’s fortitude. While life is full of suffering and many things I can’t control, I always have the choice about how I am going to respond.
Faith, Faithlessness Sculptures at Chartres CathedralFaithful and UnfaithfulNone of us are full of virtue or full of iniquity (vice). My longing for faith is greater than my ability to embody it. God knows all this; God accepts me for who I am.
Hope Despair Sculptures, Chartres CathedralHopeful and DespairingThere is always something that invites hope. Likewise, there is always something that invites despair. Sometimes I choose one, sometimes I choose the other.
Charity Sculpture Chartres CathedralGreedy and GivingGenerosity opens doors of connection, meaning, and joy. Greed isolates. Sometimes I believe the lie that I am better off not sharing.
Humility Sculpture Chartres CathedralHumble and PridefulI remember the first time I heard that women are more likely to practice the sin of humility while men are more likely to practice the sin of pride. I need both humility and pride. Too much or too little of either is not helpful–or Godly!
Folly Sculpture, Chartres CathedralWise and FoolishFollowing impulses can make me feel free, even joyous–in the moment. When I think things through and act wisely, I’m happier for longer.
Gentleness Sculpture Chartres CathedralGentle and HarshFrustration is one trigger. When it rises above a certain level, all the gentleness I feel and love to express disappears. I am horrified to watch myself express harshness.
Courage Sculpture, Chartres CathedralCourageous and CowardlyEven the bravest person can want to run away. Courage is one of my core values, but sometimes I act like a coward. When I refuse to give in to fear I can stand strong.
Justice, Sculpture, ChartresJust and UnjustThe world is a very unfair place. In what ways am I a part of the problem?
Perseverance Sculpture ChartresSteady and InconsistentAs challenges test me, I sometimes find it difficult to persevere. Fatigue, lack of perspective, and discouragement are the greatest enemies I face as I seek to live out my faith and values.

Sculpture: West Capital Frieze

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Anne & Joachim, Temple Offering at ChartresThe Pain of InfertilityThere is an extra-biblical story about Mary’s parents. They went to the temple to make an offering, but because of their infertility, it was not accepted. In this visual version, Joachim and Anne arrive with lambs. They priest (with a halo, but missing his head) with an immense right hand stops them. Their feet suggest that they are recoiling.
Joachim and an angel, Chartres CathedralNeeding To Think Things OverAfter Joachim and Anne left the Temple, they turn away from each other. Each carries the burden of grief alone. Joachim went back to his sheep in the fields. His despair is obvious. He seems unaware that an angel has appeared and is standing nearby (with a message that will change his life).
Anne and Joachim's hands, Chartres CathedralWhen Things ChangeAnne and Joachim came together after the angel’s message that they would have a daughter. Life followed barrenness. I find it helpful to remember that things can change–even in the most unlikely of situations.
Mary's first bath at Chartres CathedralMary's First BathBirth is often shown in medieval images as a small person being given their first bath. The newborn Mary was sculpted as a small child being washed by two people on either side of tub.
Mary Taken to the Temple, W Capital Frieze, Chartres CathedralMary Taken To The TempleThe apocryphal story of Mary’s childhood includes her parent’s choice to take and leave her at the Temple where she was to be taught. This series of three sculptures (most of the heads have been destroyed) shows Anna and Joachim discussing their decision, taking Mary, and Mary’s climb up the Temple steps. The story reminds me that big decisions involve, thoughtfulness, time to let things unfold, and great courage.
Joseph and Mary Meet, W Capital Frieze, Chartres CathedralMary and Joseph Meet and MarryMary and Joseph’s meeting, marriage, return home, and sitting together before the Annunciation appear in the capital frieze at Chartres.
Visitation, W Capital Frieze, Chartres CathedralMary Greeting ElizabethAs you think about the spiritual experiences you want to share with a trusted friend, what prayers are emerging in your body, mind, heart, and imagination? Pray them now.
The Nativity, W Capital Frieze, Chartres CathedralMother and Son (The Nativity)I remember my sons’ births and their small warm bodies next to mine. In the touch of their soft skin I felt God’s love for me and through me in new ways.

Stained Glass: The Apostle Window

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Ascention of Jesus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAscendingWe experience limitations; God experiences options. This Feast Day of the Ascension is full of hope.
Apostle Miracle, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionRelinquishing ControlWhat does a person need to experience in order to give her or his life to God? There may be many answers, but the most important is the one God uses in any given life.
Jesus Appears to Disciples, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSuffering and PresenceI find a part of myself in each face of a disciple looking at Jesus’ wounds after the resurrection. Their proximity to his wound seems much more important than their various emotional reactions.

Stained Glass: Good Samaritan Window

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The Creation of Eve, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGod's Creative TouchCreation is very personal. It involves relationship that is often manifested very concretely–with love.
The Breath of Life, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Breath of GodBreath is the gift of life. Every breath is a gift.
Good Samaritan Window, Chartres CathedralWhat Moves You?Nurturing the “soft spot,” the part of me that sees certain types of needs and wants to respond, is one way to say “Yes” to God’s invitation to love others.

Stained Glass: Life of Mary

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Mary's Birth, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's BirthBirth is a miracle. It is also a mystery to ponder. Anne’s face in this scene that takes place shortly after Mary’s birth calls me to remember the birth of my sons and to wonder about my birth.
Mary's first bath, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's First BathOur first washing follows birth, our last washing follows death. The loving care of others accompanies us as we arrive and leave this life. Remembering this helps me to breathe more deeply.
Mary Taken to School, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWillingMary’s hands express a willingness to trust. At the same time, her face reminds me of the questions I can hold even as I say to God, “Thy will be done.”
Mary at School, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionThe WordIt is unlikely that Mary went to school, but this image of her reading highlights words–reminding viewers of the Word she later carried within. Looking at Mary, I remember how Scripture study often helps prepare me for the future.
Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSurprise!According to an ancient story Mary was twelve years old when she became engaged to Joseph, a widower with children. Life is full of surprises. I wonder what helps me learn to welcome them?
Wedding, Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWeddingWhen I look at the hands of Mary (left) and Joseph at their wedding, I am in touch with how it is both easy and hard to follow God’s will–and how sometimes we need the help of others (the priest’s hands joining theirs in the center) in doing so.
Annunciation, Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionYesWhen medieval artists wanted to show someone saying “Yes” they placed one of their hands in front of them with the palm open as it faced the viewer. I want a “Yes” person, which isn’t always easy!
Visitation, Life of Mary, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionFriendshipI treasure the privilege of being with a friend during one of life’s critical moments.
The Nativity, Life of Mary, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity: Animal CompanionsTradition places the a bull and a donkey near the Christ child after his birth. While Mary reaches for her son and Joseph contemplates in this medieval image of the Nativity, Jesus looks towards his animal companions. I wonder what it was like for the Creator to know creation from inside the human experience.
Annunciation to the Shepherds, Jill GeoffrionAnnouncement of the ShepherdsOur lives are full of moments that are influenced by things we don’t experience ourselves. Mary wasn’t present with shepherds when the angels appeared, but she thought carefully with her mind and heart about what had happened. Like Mary, pondering leads me to the deep places I long to understand more fully.
Jesus and Mary at Jesus' presentation at the TemplePresentation of Jesus in the TempleRituals help us we stay connected with our own lives and the bigger life-story. When I look back on the services in which we dedicated our sons to God, I remember looking at them with love, hope, and a sense of needing God’s help to parent them faithfully.
Herod asks Maji about King of the Jews, Jill GeoffrionFearOne of the things I love about studying the Bible is that there are often deeper ways to understand familiar texts. While my first reaction may be fear, focusing on what God is doing brings freedom to follow–and joy.
2 Magi follow the star, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionCaught in the MiddleLife sometimes puts us in the middle of people and situations where we need to discern what is best. In God’s beautiful economy, I’m amazed at how often I am shown the way.
Magi Visit Jesus & Mary Chartres Jill GeoffrionLooking CarefullyThere is so much more to each moment than we will ever know. While I can’t take all of life in, I can try to look closely at what is right in front of me.
Flight to Egypt Chartres Jill K H GeoffrionWhat Makes Life BearableUnspeakable things happen–sometimes to us, sometimes to others we care about. Even if nothing can change, being with those I love brings comfort.
Massacre of the Innocents by Jill K H GeoffrionHorror (Massacre of Innocents)In the face of evil, there is sometimes nothing to say. I know God hears me in the silence.
Jesus Blessing, Life of Mary by Jill GeoffrionBlessing Be Upon YouJesus, raising his right hand in blessing, is found at the top of many windows at Chartres, including the window dedicated to the life of Mary. The more I remember that God is always present, blessing, the easier it is to see the beauty around me, to have hope, and to reach back in love.

Stained Glass: Miscellaneous

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Seraphim, Stained Glass, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTo Pray Like An AngelIf I had eyes all over my body how would I pray?
Stained Glass, West, Chartres CathedralLooking UpLooking down seems more natural than looking up. How can we let ourselves miss so much?!

Stained Glass: Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere

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Mary & Jesus Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionBeautyHow do we recognize beauty? When I look at Our Lady of the Beautiful Window with Jesus on her lap, I feel a tenderness inside. That softness announces beauty’s presence.
Belle Verriere window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionIconic LoveIcons, created in prayer, connect us with Transformative Love. Medieval images crafted from stained glass can do the same. Coming face to face with Our Beautiful Lady and her Son, I feel loved–and I feel love.
Mary's Head, Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSeeing and Being SeenWhile looking at Notre Dame de la Belle Verrière, one can imagine her looking right back. I wonder what Mary’s eyes might say to me if we could meet face to face.
Isaiah 4:4, Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus's MessageGod’s coming to our world in as a human baby was totally unpredictable. It seems wise to always be open to God’s breaking into our world and lives in unanticipated ways.
Holy Spirit, Belle Verriere, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit’s role in Mary’s life and Jesus’s incarnation are an important part of this image. While I don’t imagine the Holy Spirit as a dove with a halo, I do recognize the beautiful extension of light, color, and even energy that I have experienced in God’s presence.
Crown, Belle Verriere, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionQueen MaryThinking of Mary as my “older sister” in the faith has helped me to accept God’s sometimes difficult will, as she did when she agreed to carry Jesus. This image reminds me that Mary had a unique role that far exceeds being inspirational–she was the Queen Mother of the King of Kings.
Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThrone of WisdomInterdependence often goes unnoticed in our modern era. I look at this image and I see Mary. I look again, and see Jesus. If I look with deeper eyes, I see Jesus sitting securely on Mary’s lap. I see Mary’s hands supporting Jesus from behind.
Mary, Dove, Belle Verriere, ChartresHaloLooking at the blue halo surrounding Mary’s head, I long to know God better. There is deep beauty in holiness.
NDBV Mary and Jesus's Feet ChartresLike Mother, Like SonHow did Mary “mother” God? Perhaps she just tried to mother Jesus.
Mary and Jesus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's VeilThere is a piece of cloth at Chartres that Mary may have worn at the Annunciation and/or birth of Jesus. When I am near it, I feel close to Christ.
Mary's Eyes, NDdlBelle Verriere, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWho is Looking at Whom?How wonderfully mysterious that a two-dimensional stained glass window can help me to feel God looking into the depths of who I am.
Detail stained glass, chartres by Jill GeoffrionSky BlueThe twelfth century blue stained glass in this window makes me think of the sky, its moods, and its magnificence.
Partial view Our Lady of the beautiful Window Chartres, Jill GeoffrionBeautiful ChangeAround the three original twelfth-century panels of Mary and Jesus are a series of panels added in the thirteenth century after a fire caused its repositioning and “updating.” The title “Beautiful Window” (Belle Verrière) was given to windows like this one that incorporated glass from different periods. While distressing, change can also plant the seeds of new and even lovely possibilities. Reminders like this “beautiful window” help me to feel glimmers of hope–especially when I am feeling loss.
Angel, Stained glass, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAngelsThe eight angels placed above and beside Mary and Jesus are telling me, “Look to the Center. Praise God!”
Angels, Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAngels' SupportFour angels holding pillars support Mary, Throne of Wisdom, and Jesus who sits on this throne blessing the world. The scene reminds viewers of The Ark of God’s Covenant with God’s people, and the Holy of Holies where God dwelt. As Advent draws to a close I see Emmanuel, God with us, supported by his mother, Mary, who in turn is sustained by God’s help (angels).
Mary, Stained Glass at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionStarsStars shine in the darkness. They beg us to reach toward realities we will never experience. Silently, they open our hearts to hope. As the night to remember angels singing God’s praise in a star-lit sky approaches, I remember how stars have been symbolically linked to Mary, Jesus’ mother. As I look at these flower-shaped stars, I long for the beauty, possibility, and promise of the starry sky to become even more real to me and to our troubled world.
Mary, Notre Dame Window Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's MessageThe story of Jesus’ first miracle, the changing of the water into wine at the wedding at Cana, is found below the large image of Mary and Jesus in the Notre Dame de la Belle Verrière window. Mary is a key figure in the story, asking Jesus to help. Like many wise mothers, she left a door open for him to respond after he indicated he didn’t want to. Mary’s words, “Do whatever he tells you.” inspire me.

Stained Glass: Noah Window

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Noah Window, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionIntroducing the Noah WindowBlue is what I see when I stand in front of the Noah window without trying to understand its stories. The color transports me to memories involving the water and sky.
Donors Noah Window at Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNoah Window (2)Like the creators of the medieval stained glass windows we often “read” our lives from the ground level up. The five images of carpenters at the bottom of the Noah window remind me of how sacred my work is–even when it feels very mundane.
Genesis 6, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionThe Noah Window at ChartresWhen things seem incomprehensible, like the story about the sons of God, the daughters of humans and the Nephilim in Genesis 6, or the images that seem to portray them in the Noah window, I try to look “through” the story, or the image, to a deeper meaning that might be hiding out of sight.
God Speaking to Noah, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionGod Speaking with NoahGod had something to difficult to communicate to Noah, yet Noah wanted to listen. Attentiveness and receptivity are two qualities I am working to cultivate.
Noah's Family Discussing, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNoah's FamilyFamilies have a way of discussing what is going on. I have learned that in addition to talking things out, praying for discernment is helpful.
Building Noah's Ark, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionDoing What God CommandsNoah did all that God commanded (Gen. 6:22). I wish that I could say the same!
Animals, Noah's Ark, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionThe Animals ArrivingI recently read an article in National Geographic about a man who is photographing as many of the animal species on our planet as possible. With a world so full variety, why do I sometimes find it so hard to accept people who are different?
Noah's Ark, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNoah's Ark Floating on the Watersn these very troubled times, it is easy to understand God’s discouragement with humanity. I am grateful that God has never been so disheartened as to give up.
Flood Victims, Noah Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Victims of The FloodWhen I look at the images of the victims of the flood, my heart and mind turn to the victims of the recent atrocities around our globe.
Flood Victims, Noah Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMore Victims (of The Flood)There is so much violence in our world. So much death. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I’m sure we all do.
Dove leaving Noah's Ark, Chartres by Jill GeoffionWhat Is Going On?When we find ourselves in the midst of new situations that don’t make complete sense, we have to figure out ways to test the waters. Noah did it with a dove, in these unsettled times we need to find our own solutions.

Stained Glass: South Rose

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Light of South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMeeting the South Rose WindowMeeting a stained glass window is similar to encountering someone for the first time. It helps to engage without analyzing too much.
Christ, The South Rose, chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe CenterRed cries out, seeking my attention. My eyes respond by leading me to the center of the rose window–and as it turns out to the center of all things.
Symbols, South Rose Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSymbols That Still SpeakThe cup (of suffering and hope). The light (of the world). Blessing (from God’s hand). These thirteenth century images still have the power to touch my life. I bow my head as I honor the beautiful and terrible Mystery of God.
Angel, South Rose Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAngelsCircling Jesus in this rose window are eight angels with censors. My sense of smell is as holy as my sense of hearing, sight, touch, or taste.
John, South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJohn, The Gospel WriterAn eagle, symbolizing John, the author of the fourth gospel, flies above Christ’s head in this rose. I feel happy seeing Jesus’ friends (the three other gospel writers are also found nearby) so close to him. It never ceases to amaze and delight me that God seeks a relationship with human beings–like John, and me–and you.
Lancet, South Rose Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWhat Is Needed NowIf I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Detail South Rose Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPraying For Those Who SufferGod, who was willing to come to our world and be murdered, understands our grief.
South Rose and Lancets Chartres by Jill Geoffrion


Finding Your FocusWhen looking at the south rose window, do you see the glass or the tracery? Focusing on both at the same time is possible. We need to gaze at all of reality if we are going to understand what is needed–in our lives, relationships, societies, and world. I want to see what there is to see–all of it.
Luke, South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionLuke, The Gospel WriterEach of the gospel writers is symbolized by a different animal. Luke is represented as an ox because of his focus on sacrifice in the gospel he wrote. Each of us shares God in our own way, based on our own interests and personality. I am grateful for the diversity in the world God created.
Mark, South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMark, The Gospel WriterThe lion is a symbol of strength, courage, dignity–even royalty. Mark, whose symbol is the lion, in part because of his emphasis on Jesus’ kingship, portrays Christ’s royal strength as power to do God’s will. In light of all that is happening in the world today, I am trying to have the courage to follow Jesus by seeking solutions to violence–not participating in creating more.
Matthew, South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMatthew the Gospel WriterThe gospel (book) that Matthew wrote is the focal point of this image. Contemplating its open pages, I become aware of a deep longing to make God’s story available to a world that very much needs it.
Elder, South Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Worshipping EldersSinging praise and bringing the prayers of God’s people to God, these are not the “jobs” that I would expect the twenty-four rulers closest to Christ to have. Rethinking the cultural paradigms that I have accepted, this is what God calls me to.

Stained Glass: West Rose

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W Rose, Exterior Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionStained Glass FlowerMeeting a stained glass window, like meeting a person, involves getting an initial sense of how it feels to be together. My heart beats faster every time I see the west rose window at the Chartres Cathedral.
Risen Christ, W Rose, Chartres Cathedal by Jill GeoffrionThe Center of AllMedieval artists at Chartres depicted Christ the Judge as the One who lovingly understood human suffering. When I contemplate Christ the Judge in the West Window of Chartres, showing us all his bleeding wounds, I don’t feel afraid, I feel grateful, understood and connected.
Matthew, West Rose, Chartres CathedralMatthew the Gospel WriterHaving one’s closest friends nearby is important. It is not surprising to find the four gospel writers in the closest circles to Christ. Matthew, depicted as an angel, holding his gospel fills the bottom circle. Seeing his proximity to the Risen Christ makes me wonder, how am I expressing my friendship with God?
Mark Looks to Christ, Chartres CathedralMark and Luke Looking to ChristWhere we look matters. The gospel writers are looking to the Risen Christ. I want to focus my inner and outer gaze on the Center too.
Symbol of John, Chartres CathedralJohn the Gospel WriterJohn described himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.” Would I describe myself to everyone as “the one whom Jesus loves”?
Angel, W Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionAngelsThe angels closest to the Risen Christ direct attention towards him. On this day of worship, who or what am I worshipping? Who or what is truly at the center of my life?
Abraham, West Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Bosom of AbrahamThe bosom of Abraham, mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, represents divine justice. Like Christ who is found below this image of Abraham holding three souls, a poor man named Lazarus suffered during his life. God did not forget him. As I experience the suffering of those who struggle, may I not despair thinking God is absent.
Cherubim, West Rose, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Eyes of the CherubimAs a child, I feared God’s ability to see everything I did. As an adult, I am grateful that God not only sees, but also knows everything.
Apostles, W Rose of Chartres by Jill GeoffrionApostlesThe twelve Apostles sit, two by two, on either side of Christ. Their hands to direct attention to their Center, the Center of All. How will I use my hands to draw others to God today?
Michael Weighs Souls at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMichael Weighing SoulsEvery culture acknowledges that what we do matters. Taking time to consider on how I have acted in the past helps me to live with greater integrity and love.

Where is God: Post-Resurrection Appearances

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Jesus talking on the Road to Emmaus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Road to EmmausHow can I better see what is right in front of me?
Eating in Emmaus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionEating with the Risen Christ (Emmaus)Discerning God’s presence has a lot to do with what my heart knows. I want to honor its wisdom better!
Christ Displays His Wounds, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionChrist Shows His WoundsGod can appear anywhere, anytime. Why is God’s appearance always such a surprise?!
Thomas met by Risen Christ, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThomas Meets the Risen ChristAs a child it scared me to think that God could “hear” my every comment. As an adult, I find it oddly comforting.
12th-century Baptismal Font, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBaptismForgetting that our mission as disciples is linked with Christ’s presence has plagued Christ’s followers since the beginning. It’s still a temptation that yields bitter fruit.