Introduction by Connie Cavanaugh

GLIMPSES by Connie Cavanaugh

The Baptist Horizon February 1996 (“Glimpses” – Article, The Baptist Horizon, 1996 )

The dog woofed a welcome before I could reach the doorbell. The door whooshed open and Christine Lane bustled me inside. I stepped into another world. Surrounded by antique furniture and collectibles, I was warmed and cheered and glad to leave the minus thirty-something behind. Removing layers of winter gear, I was given a pair of fuzzy slippers and a hug.

As we chatted, Christine ushered me into her dining room – a few steps across the hardwood floor. Fighting the urge to wander through the gallery-like house I sat down to a bottomless china cup of tea and took out my pencils.

I had come expecting to find an artist, and so she is. Christine has designed and completed stained glass windows for St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School Chapel in London, England and St. Oswald’s Church in Berkshire. She has also done work for private citizens. Having completed the designs and iconography for five windows at Bow Valley Baptist Church in Cochrane, Alberta, her God-given talents are immediately apparent.

Pastor Hamish Buntain asked Christine to “think about” a design for the windows situated behind the pulpit in the proposed building in 1993. She agreed, but declared that Hamish was the messenger; it was God who was asking this of her.

For fourteen months Christine was consumed by this pilgrimage, more than once despairing and almost giving up. Hunched over the table one night, praying aloud, slowly and deliberately, she spoke these words: “Thy unworthy servant may serve Thee, as though worthy.”

When speaking about stained glass, specifically the designs for the Bow Valley church, she says “My heart burns within me.” The pages of research, when piled up, stand a foot tall. Each line, each colour, each image bursts with symbolism, the result of hundreds of hours of painstaking study.

Christine was born in Dorset, England and recognized early her ability as an artist. She was and is a great lover of books and was planning a career as a librarian. Her father encouraged her to pursue art.

After only one year in the school of Stained Glass at the Royal College of Art, London, England she was declared a Royal Scholar. Upon graduation, the head of the stained glass department invited her to work as an apprentice in his private studio. Christine spent the next three years working with the best antique glass from England, France and Germany.

Antique glass, each piece unique because of its flaws, is made from molten sand. Heated in a crucible until it forms a vitreous liquid, it is then swirled upon the end of a blowpipe.  This “gather” of liquid glass is blown into a cylinder shape similar to a lady’s muff. Slicing across the top allows the cocoon of glass to unfurl, forming a sheet that, when cooled, becomes stained glass.

“My Utmost For His Highest,” the title of Oswald Chamber’s well-known book, became Christine’s credo. “There is a difference,” she maintains, “between one’s best and one’s utmost.” Therefore, the proposed windows at Bow Valley must be created with antique glass.

Although the designs were completed over a year ago and work on the actual windows is not yet financially feasible, this project continues to be a daily reality for Christine. With face aglow she imparts her passion, “I believe,” she declares,“ that the medium of stained glass possesses the unique ability to speak most eloquently of ‘the manifold grace of God.’”

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