I have a “thing” about curtains.  It borders on obsession.  Even as a child, I often found myself studying the draped windows in my neighborhood. I especially loved the illuminated windows of cold winter evenings. Each house possessed its own distinct personality, reflecting the personalities of the people within. I think my passion was kindled with the realization that curtains make a house a home.

window curtain breezeI’ve spent hundreds of happy hours planning, buying, and sewing window treatments for the four homes I’ve lived in since my marriage. No heavy drapes and light-dimming sheers for me! Lace, lots of light-diffusing lace, has been my long-standing curtain of choice.  And cafe curtains…I’ve lost count of the number of cafe curtains I’ve sewn over the years. Cover half the window with eyelet, or, for a more masculine look, a crisp stripe, and you achieve both style and a light and airy room. Perfect! Then again, there is always the option of tie-backs: tie-backs with fringe; tie-backs with tassels; tie-backs with flounces; tie-backs in muslin. Tie-backs create windows that smile, afford the passer-by a glimpse of the family life inside, and announce to the world,  “The woman who lives here loves her home.”

And just what, you may ask, do curtains have to do with the spiritual life?

Here’s the connection. Over the course of the last twenty years, I’ve made meditation a (nearly) daily practice. I’ve come to the point where I can drop down into that place of deep silence fairly quickly.  There are days, however, when today’s troubles vie with tomorrow’s possible troubles to make a mental stew that is difficult, if not impossible, to cut through, and I cannot find that place of peace. And there are times, I hate to admit, when I sit down to meditate only to have visions of curtains rise up in my mind.

I have no doubt it is partially the work of the Enemy, these curtain visions in the midst of meditation. I also believe there’s a metaphor here, a metaphor that reveals truths about myself I’d rather block out. And so I ask myself just exactly what it is that curtains do.

Curtains cover windows; afford privacy; block or diffuse light; provide decoration.

If eyes are, indeed, the windows of the soul, how might this metaphor play out in terms of my spiritual eyes, my soul-health? It happens like this: I sit down to meditate. I attempt to empty my mind of trivial thoughts so that I might come into the presence of God. I repeat a simple but powerful phrase in my mind: “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.”  God’s invitation has been heard. I have responded. And up float visions of curtains.

It is as if someone has pulled the drapes on my spiritual eyes. The light of Christ, which I so earnestly seek, is dimmed. My self, which I sincerely seek to give over in its entirety (“Here am I, Lord”), is half-hidden. The “real” me, the “essential” me, the “true” me, created by God to be in communion with Him, is decorated now in materials of a worldly nature. How can I come into His presence thus dressed?

The answer is simple. I can’t.

What are the preoccupations of your mind and heart? What rises up to dominate your thoughts when you sit down to pray? What obscures the light of Christ from shining brightly into the dark recesses of your soul?

Lord, I offer up this worldly preoccupation to you. Let me dress the windows of my heart’s eyes with visions of your loveliness. Let the light of your Spirit pour like warm morning sun through these windows, illuminating and purifying everything it touches. Let me stand in spiritual nakedness before your throne, letting nothing of the world contaminate your holiness as I come into your presence.

I thank you for this home, dear Lord. I praise you for making it a welcoming, inviting, and beautiful place. I thank you for its lace-dressed windows; for its tie-back curtains fringed and tasseled; for its home-made cafe curtains. May my windows continue to smile at all who pass by. But may you, Lord, be the window dressing seen by visitor and passer-by alike. And may my meditations be curtain-free.  Amen.

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