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The Women in the Window



Not so noticeable in the daylight – but there all the same.


It was a beautiful day in Amsterdam, Holland, and being unseasonably warm made it especially nice for exploring the city on foot.




Amsterdam is beautiful. Full of history, cobblestone and of course water, bikes and cheese. There are boat tours available at every turn and a public transit system that can get you just about anywhere.


But there is something about walking that makes one feel alive. Perhaps the exercise or the fresh air, but I think it is the intimacy.


It’s the terrifying privilege of being fully in each moment. And with the being comes the seeing. You see so much more when you are walking among – not just flying by.


You become engaged by the sounds, the smells and the sights. Foul or fair.


And let’s be honest – usually the closer we look, the less pleasant things really are.


It is possible to be happily flying through a city like Amsterdam and be kept so busy admiring the architecture, delicious delicacies, and snapping photos of famous intrigues and never really seeing what is actually going on.


On foot it is difficult to miss.


Even during the day it is there. The windows are empty of course.


For now.


But that red is there. Subtle in the daylight. Yet shockingly apparent when one takes time to really look.


As the sunlight fades, those lights become brighter, as does the knowledge that soon these same empty windows will be filled.


Filled with women.


Women selling themselves. Women being defined by the services they can provide instead of who they are created to be. Women who, even in such a job, are placed in different categories and on different streets according to size and weight and society’s skewed idea of beauty.


And it becomes very difficult to ignore as it stares you in the face.


I could feel an intense anger and a deep sense of injustice as we passed window after window. Street after street.


They are about as common as grocery stores. Part of your shopping list.


That same morning we had visited a small international church in Amsterdam. A lovely congregation that is transforming their anti-religious culture with the power of the message of Jesus.


The pastor – an American – said this :


Church is broken people that God has radically redeemed and changed into beautiful people to worship God and love people.”


Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Kind of like the superficial glitz and glamour of many tourist attractions. A nice neat package that is very complex and somewhat disturbing once unwrapped.


So what does this mean?

What does that look like for our sisters in the windows?


I am pretty sure they fall under that “people” category. And the last time I checked I was one of those redeemed, broken people. And I am now part of the church whose one job in all her brokenness is to love others as she has been loved.


And so I am responsible to some degree.


To love women.


The women in the window.




I want to know why God allows all this suffering in the world.”

Then why don’t you ask him?”

Because I am afraid.”

Why are you afraid?”

I am afraid that He will ask me the same question.”

  • Shane Claiborne The Irresistible Revolution

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