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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The House of Glass

Have you ever heard of the Glass House, also called the Johnson House? This structure was designed, then built, in 1949 by Philip Johnson on his 47 acre estate in Connecticut. The only enclosed space is the bathroom, hidden inside a brick cylinder. Mr. Johnson lived, then died here in January 2005, and the house has since become a National Landmark as a tribute to modern architecture with its use of geometry, proportion, and especially the effects of transparency and reflection.

Sometimes I think about living in this house that Mr. Johnson built, and to say the thought makes me uncomfortable is a gross understatement. The exposure of it to me would be unbearable -- I'm the kid, after all, who hung a blanket over her window so I could feel alone and safe. (Fortunately for my family I've outgrown this practice, although I still feel more comfortable if the curtains are drawn at night :-)

This house draws a metaphor for me, though, about a way this present life might be viewed. First, imagine you suddenly materialize in that glass house at night with no vision at all of what is outside -- if anything -- imagine you do not even know if something IS outside this small world. If all of the lights inside the house are blazing, you will see nothing of the outdoors because the windows will reflect the light, and you will see only reflections of the room. However, if you turn the lights down, and turn your sight to the walls and not the distractions inside the room, you will begin to see the moon, the dark shapes of trees, even stars reflecting on water outside the window. It won't be clear, of course, but you can definitely say that an adjacent environment exists, and a little about what it looks like.

Now, imagine that our present life is like living in that house at night. We can be easily distracted by things of this world, by the blazing lights inside, that reflect the room and shield any knowledge of the next world. But as the lights are dimmed through hardship and negative circumstances, it becomes possible for the next world to become more apparent.

My dear friends, don't be too distracted by the reflections of the windows. Instead, when the lights are turned down, welcome their dimming if you can, but if you can or no, always, always, strive to look beyond the glass walls.


Philangelus said...

I thought you were heading in the direction of the book of Hebrews, that we'll be effectively naked before God and all of our souls will be visible to Him.

I might keep my house cleaner if it were completely made of glass! ;-)

Amy Deardon said...

Nah, that would be too obvious :-)

Although we are visible and naked to him, of course. It can make one pretty nervous if one thinks about it...

Alison said...

This is a great analogy, Amy. And for those who don't believe yet that there is a world outside the walls, I hope I'm not one of the distracting lights.

Off the subject: this house reminds me of the one in the movie "The Lake House." Great movie.

Anonymous said...

NICE!!! Kinda goes along with transparecy, too. But I like how you described the dark outside causeds the light to reflect on the windows inside. Perfect! It's so true.

Great post.

Gwen Stewart said...

Oh, what a beautiful post, Amy. Really lovely...I too thought you were going in the direction of transparency, but liked the direction you took it so much more.

I'll be thinking about this for awhile, I can tell.

Also, I wanted you to know that I'm still reading along and QUITE happily!