We visited the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, whose synagogue houses the famed Chagall Windows: 12 abstract stained glass windows representing the 12 Tribes of Israel. No cameras are allowed. The windows are beautiful, arranged with three on each side. We began on one side as a recorded voice explained details of each window. We had time to search for specific motifs and colors. They are beautiful windows, but they became more vibrant with each detail: the opposing animals in Simeon’s window, the white spot caused by a shrapnel hole in Issachar’s window, the large circle of unity in Benjamin’s window.
We could take no photos, which was, at first, a disappointment. I took hundreds of photos to document our journey throughout Israel. I planned to share them with everyone in our group so that they didn’t have to sacrifice any part of their experience by limiting their view to the camera lens. They would have to miss out on the Chagall windows as they looked through the photos.
Or, would they?
It wouldn’t have taken much time to snap one photo of each window. I still could have stared at each and noticed the details, but savoring each one, knowing I couldn’t take a photo, made me pay even more attention. I searched the colors, animals, and sections of each one to remember them well. I took pictures with my mind.
I’m fairly detail-oriented most of the time. In fact, if I’m not careful, I can let details distract me from the big picture. How about you? With the easy access to phone cameras and quick shares with the world through social media, we have a lot of images to see. We can slip into trusting the documentation of our lives (and others’) by photos instead of doing the tough work of looking at the details on our own. We need to look around and notice the specifics of colors, patterns, and people around us.
We need to set aside our cameras. After all, God gave us a built in camera no one can take away or limit. What photos are you taking and repeatedly searching in your mind?
For more information about the Chagall windows, click here.