Our Southwest Corner: Shadows, The Philosophers’ Window, and Mr Garvin’s View

One of the appealing things about our church is that it is small enough for newcomers to get to know people. It also means, unfortunately, that when our community loses people, we probably feel our loss even more. And in recent months, we have had our share. Which may make it a good moment to turn to one of our sanctuary windows, the one I think of as our “sad window”.

The southwest corner of the sanctuary isn’t really sad; it has both the organ and the piano, which make quite a joyful noise most of the time (I can’t quite remember why we were all dancing in the aisle before the service started a couple of weeks ago, but it clearly had something to do with Diane at the piano), — but still, it has the least sunlight of anywhere in the sanctuary, and it’s the home of the Philosophers’ Window, which, starting off with Socrates, isn’t all that jolly.

A Little Owl (Socrates’ window)

Philosophers’ Window: Socrates, Emerson, Milton

That corner of the church has other solemn associations. The second pew from the front on that side is the spot Mr. Garvin always occupied, and he’s still nearby: his ashes are in the west wall between the south and central windows. From his place in the pew he would have seen, above the wooden covering of the organ pipes, a wooden low-relief sculpture showing a small family group, and below it, the Psalm inscription: He setteth the solitary in families. The inscription must have been important for Mr. Garvin. The biographical sketches of him that appeared, with his co-operation, during his lifetime mention his growing up without his father. Actually, the youngster grew up mostly without his mother, too, since he lived on an aunt and uncle’s farm, while his mother moved away when she re-married. She had been widowed at the age of only seventeen, before her son was even born. Since that was right before the Civil War broke out, the Garvins’ situation was far from unique: it created a whole generation of widows and orphans. So Mr Garvin was quite familiar with what it meant, setting the solitary in families.

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