From Glass to Life

Tucked in tall trees at the west end of St. Bernard Abbey is the monastery cemetery. Neat white crosses face each other on either side of the gravel path, reminders of the monks who face each other daily in choir. The face of the chapel, set in blocks of native stone, absorbs the afternoon light and looks warm, feels warm, and its inviting door is almost always open.

Inside are simple brown pews. They're not decorative or heavy or substantial. They face a stone altar draped in white cloth and the smooth granite faces of the columbarium vaults. The air sits still and silent, moved like a whisper by a small electric fan sitting on the floor, off to one side.

All around is colored light--windows. They disclose the late light of late summer and disguise it in cool and muted colors. Not noteworthy in beauty or craftsmanship, they are exquisitely simple and unique. Each window is personal, not designed to comfort with uniformity but to express personality. Each invites a long look.

A window is another interface. The outside is barred entry but sunlight is freely admitted. It's admitted through a distinct remembrance, a distinct design. There is a meaning here. There is a meaning in the windows just like there is in the ashes stored in each columbarium vault, in each remembered life. The remembrances live on, alive from season to season, day to day, visitor to visitor.
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