Ashland's Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church got its first stained glass last week, two panels portraying the bread and wine of the Eucharist, created by Kevin Christman of Talent and mounted in the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.

Ashland's Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church got its first stained glass last week, two panels portraying the bread and wine of the Eucharist, created by Kevin Christman of Talent and mounted in the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.

Though minimalist in scale, the windows are filled with overlapping, integrated symbols that involve worshippers in a meditation of searching for the elements of what Christman calls "the puzzle."

The works, simply called "Bread" and "Wine," support the idea that when congregants enact the eucharistic ritual, they partake in the real presence of Jesus, said the church's pastoral council president, Sue Delgado.

"You sit in the chapel and believe in the presence of Jesus, so silent meditation is appropriate," says Delgado, who worked closely with Christman.

"It brought tears to my eyes and my heart was very full" when the windows were installed Thursday, she says.

"The (visual) ideas are traditional, and it was my idea to blend them," says Christman. "This allows contemplation, and the viewer becomes more involved."

The small room, built during a major church renovation, offers worshippers seats before a candle-lit tabernacle to contemplate the sacraments.

The "Bread" window shows a lamb symbolizing Jesus, the lamb of God, stalks of grain, a loaf of bread, slices of bread, an arrow pointing heavenward and the Greek letter A for alpha, with the triangle representing the Trinity, says Christman.

The "Wine" window shows a dove, chalice of wine, grapes, the piscean (fish) shape, the XP or Christogram (first letters of the word "Christ" in Greek) and the Greek letter omega. Alpha and omega mean "the first and the last," words attributed to Jesus in Revelation.

The windows are backed with translucent glass that, from the outside — or the inside in darkness — allow you to see only the shape of the lamb and dove.

"I did a creative design that used all the symbols till they all worked in harmony and fit together like a puzzle," says Christman, who used a high-quality, hand-blown glass from France and Germany that's not available anymore. The panels used 480 pieces.

The chalice of wine represents the Holy Spirit, while the bread or host is the body of Jesus, says Delgado, adding that "the layered symbols are absolutely exquisite, especially with the different kinds of glass. ... It's a stellar job."

Christman, 45, a native of Minnesota, has many sculptures around the Rogue Valley and the world. In Ashland, you'll see the "Alchemy of Light" bronze in front of Soundpeace, "Inorganic Compounds" near Guanajuato Way and "Formations" at Peerless Restaurant. He executed the "Tree of Life" stained glass at Havurah Shir Hadash, the orchid stained glass in the door of Tease and "The Chalice," a large painting of local terrain and trees at the Rogue Valley Manor dining hall.

The renovation of the entire church sanctuary was designed by Milo Shubat of Ashland.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.