Sunlight through a kitchen window…

August 23, 2010

The simple, yet exquisite beauty of natural light falling through a kitchen window at sunset


 Thoughts. Observations. Reflections on summer 2010. 

It’s been a lonely walk the last month or two. Feeling aware that something was missing I have turned again to my much neglected blog and decided that I needed to return my mind, hands and body to the tap-tap-tap of the laptop key-board. 

Life has been good, but hard in a subtly abrasive way, like the feeling of stumbling into a concrete wall, whatever our needs or feelings – the concrete does not shift. It stays resolutely hard and it is our bodies, feelings and souls that must compress and change shape to adjust to the solidity of the obstacle we encounter. A concrete wall – plain, grey, cold, hard or in this case the circumstances of life, even in a ‘promised’ land remain unforgiving and unmoved. 

As a man who sees himself as taking part in a spiritual journey, one might think that I have extra resources from which to find comfort in such hard and dull circumstances…and you’d be right. I do have access to spiritual traditions, disciplines and wonders that are usually able to shine light on life during a period of struggle or difficulty. Yet, once again this summer when religious resources have been widely available, I find myself saturated by their sweetness. Somehow they taste too sweet. They do not satisfy. Christian conferences, church attendance and activities, Christian books they seem to contribute to the sense of alienation, not alleviate it. 

So, what does one do in such circumstances? 

In my case I think I take care and time to appreciate the ‘details’ of life. The subtle, easily ignored, particles of beauty, splendour that permeate even the most ‘ordinary’ circumstances. There is beauty everywhere, if you have eyes to see. Just like the Kingdom the ancient Jewish man Jesus of Nazareth spoke about – it is within us or near us, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear. 

I took the picture above because the  translucent and shadowy scene in my humble rented accommodation struck me as special in a unique way. I sensed that it may not last or that I may never see such a scene of earthly beauty quite like it gain. I chose to pay attention to the details of my physical life in those moments, and paradoxically what was revealed was a kind of  spiritual epiphany. 

In my experience it is rare to hear a Christian seminar on discovering the beauty of God through the precise falling of particles of light through a kitchen window, across a sink full of cups and plates and cutlery ready to be washed. Rather, we rush ahead see if we can harness the spiritual powers of the Bible or in the name of the God of the Bible to accelerate the growth of ‘our’ church. In the back of our minds are targets and financial goals and plans, we lose sight of the graces of each day – light, shadow, thin curtains flowing in the breezes. 

I wonder if true spirituality will take place on earth if we set down our plans and just praise the God of Creation for the wonder of the Universe and thank the God of History for the chance to be alive…and free…and fed…and watered…with clothes and shelter, that we might be still for a moment and notice, watch the changes in light across a first floor flats rooms. Maybe in these transient whispers of the material world are the trails of glory from the other heavenly world.

Summer breeze moves the voile curtains and evening sun lights up the kitchen window



  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the encouragement. I have been away for a while, but I’m hoping to get back into writing regularly again. I’m glad you like what I write, thanks for your positive comments.

  2. Hi David, this is a really beautiful post, your words ring true. The light through your kitchen window also brings one of my favourite painters, Vermeer, to mind, with his light flooded windows and people employed in humble everyday tasks. I think when he painted his particles of light he was touching something sublime, making the same thing accessible to anyone who sees his paintings. You’ve pinpointed something like it here with your paradox of finding an epiphany in something as ‘unspiritual’ as mere matter. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts – I’m going to go and gaze at the washing up now. Annie

    • Hi Annie, thanks for your feedback on this post. It’s really enouraging to read that you have found helpful these reflections on how for me simple moments of ‘ordinary’ life have opened up glimpses of the numinous. One or two other readers have told me verbally that they have also appreciated this post. I haven’t had chance to write much recently, but I am often thinking about the interface between physicality and spirituality. Where do they begin and end, if at all? Is our modern distinction between matter and essence a brutish oversimplification of the way they Universe appears to ‘be’ and have been formed? Ancient peoples lived in a much greater awareness of the dynamic relationship between the physical and the spiritual – although perhaps it was naively concieved compared to the wonders we now are aware of through modern science. Yet, science since the 21st Century’s advances in relativity and ‘new science’, as well as cultural studies since postmodern philosophy seem to point to a growing insight into the awe, mystery, interdependence and ‘play’ within the Universe. I am fascinated and humbled by this. I find the thoughts and writings of German philosopher Martin Heidegger really helpful in making me aware of how I might percieve or fail to percieve the wonder of the material world I live in as a 21st Century global citizen. Thanks again for your kind remarks and especially your comparisons with Vermeer – I hadn’t even made that connection at all! Although, I think I know the paintings you refer to and will look them up again. Please feel free to advance any further thoughts of your own. Hope the numinous reveals to you the extraordinary in the apparently commonplace in coming weeks – even sunlit washing up in the kitchen sink! 🙂 David

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