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Coffee and ... Defining Art

By Bill Dodds
How to make “strained glass,” and other important questions surface after Mass.

Catholic Way -

You just never know when a discussion of fine art will break out. A parish gathering after Mass provides Bill Dodds with some artistic insights from the younger crowd.

"That’s our baby brother,” Polly Clarke informed me, pointing at a bundle of blue in an infant carrier seat.

I was keeping an eye on 4-year-old Polly, her twin sister Molly, and the baby, while their mother went to get orange juice for the girls. We were sharing a table at “Coffee and …” after the 10 o’clock Sunday Mass at St. Felix parish.

“All he does is sleep,” Polly continued.

“And eat,” Molly chimed in.

“And … other stuff,” Polly added delicately.

“He’ll be big enough to play with you pretty soon,” I assured them.

“Uh huh,” Polly said, clearly not convinced.

“We sit by you in Mass,” Molly said.


“We’ve been going to that Mass all our lives,” Polly added.

“That long?”

“Uh huh. We always sit under that window. The one with the Blessed Mother. It’s our favorite.”

“My wife and I like that window, too,” I said. “We sat there when our kids were little.”

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” Molly explained. “All the little colored pieces.” She leaned in. “Do you know what that kind of window is called?”

“Yes,” I said, “it’s …’

“It’s called ‘strained glass,’” she said.

“‘Strained glass’?”

Molly nodded. “They call it that because they put the glass through a strainer to get out the big pieces. Then they only use the little ones.”

“Is that right? And who told you that?”


“I see.” I turned to her twin. “Polly, who told you that?”

“Nobody. I just heard the name and figured it out by myself.”

Copyright © 2000 Bill Dodds

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