You know, Candia, I like the idea of forgiveness. Even the vandals that committed that terrible act of desecration in Steep Church are merely re-enacting a type of evil behaviour like that of poor old Judas, but there is a wonderful tradition of felix culpa, isn’t there?
Yes, Brassie. The sadness of destruction reminded me of another Whistler window- a 13th pane which was rejected by the villagers of Moreton. It is now in the County Museum in Dorset. It struck me very powerfully some years ago as I considered the whole theological debate as to the ultimate salvation of the betrayer.
Whistler himself had written to The Independent in 1994, from Watlington in Oxfordshire, after experiencing the rejection of his offer of this 13th pane. It would only have been visible from the inside of the church. It showed Judas being pulled into Heaven by the rope around his neck. Some people are as resistant as that to salvation, I suppose. Anyway, he commented that three minutes of agonising strangulation was not to be compared to the extended suffering of crucifixion.
You wouldn’t have a poem on that, would you, Candia?
Well, actually, yes, I do, as a matter of fact:
The Forgiveness Window
(Engraved for Morton Church, by L. Whistler. Now in
This was to have been a thirteenth blind pane,
seen only from the outside of the church:
replacement for its bombshell-slivered glass.
Judas the betrayer hangs from a tree.
His grasp relaxes and thirty pieces
of silver metamorphose into a
Discernment can come from outside the Church.
Inside some, coin-lidded, opt for cataracts.
Most see through glass darkly; few face to face.