The Zen of Glass

Recently Len, Willa, and I headed to Bruneau Dunes State Park to celebrate the arrival of spring. Created by the wind’s artistic touch, the first sand dune we passed brought to mind the precise raking one admires in Zen gardens.


Many types of glass are made from silicon dioxide — the main ingredient of sand — along with soda ash and limestone. One ton of recycled glass saves 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, and 380 pounds of limestone.


Glass has many positive characteristics we’d do well to emulate:

  • The majority of glass used today is clear.
    We can live transparently
  • Glass reflects light
    We can let our inner radiance shine through
  • Cullet (recycled glass) requires a lower heating temperature than glass from raw materials, thus requiring 40 percent less energy.
    We can cultivate lifestyle practices that are earth-friendly

What view do you enjoy most through a clear glass window in your home?

© Laurie Buchanan

Find me on Twitter @TuesWithLaurie
Find me on Facebook

67 thoughts on “The Zen of Glass

  1. Interesting facts about sand to glass !
    My new friend at apartment building collects “sea glass” from the local beaches, and planning on creating some art work with the pieces.
    My view now through clear glass windows from the eighth floor looks west across the towns below and out in the distance across the river at the city of Philadelphia, The Sunrise which lights the buildings and trees is magic, the Sunset that paint the sky full of clouds and brilliant orange gold is mesmerizing!

  2. Interesting Laurie. I will continue to re-cycle and enjoy the view of my flower garden from my window! Which right now is ready for a spring clean before he weeds pop up 😉

  3. Your photo brought to mind the lovely Zen garden nestled in a small nook at the College where I taught. Occasionally, I would see someone gently rake the sand and remove leaf droppings, restoring the serenity.

    You asked, What view do you enjoy most through a clear glass window in your home? I can see the fronds of a Sago palm through the clean, clear windows of the French door we replaced about three weeks ago. The other windows in my house are not clean, so I walk outside for a clear view.

  4. Sand is mesmerizing and relaxing to me be it on a beach or a dune. I spent my childhood summer vacations at a camping area in Canada with my family and would spend 3 weeks playing on the sand dunes and relaxing on the beach. There was a tractor in the mornings that would rake the beach and I would rush out of our tent to be the first one to make tracks on the mile long freshly raked beach.

    My favorite views out my windows are the open field across the street which is home to many deer who come to graze in the area in the early mornings and again at dusk. Bright moonlit nights you can see the coyotes scamper across the field and listen to them howl. During the day the hawks fly around the field and “mouse” for their meals. The tall grass in the summer blows in the wind and the trees lined at the end of the open field boast the most beautiful colors during the fall season. My second favorite view is out the back windows which face our small farm and I get to watch all of our animals enjoy their lives and see our ice pond in the winter and camping area in the summer.

    Great post! Tina

  5. I live in the city of Milwaukee, so I see roof tops, church steeples, tree tops, and blue skies. Those looking in see my flurry of green babies in containers pressing against the glass striving for sunlight.
    I am letting my inner radiance shine through and finding ways to teach people to grow food in any environment… even a studio apartment in the city. Its a beautiful thing to have FRESH GREENS year round.
    🙂 KMC

    • Karin — I know, well, the view you speak of. And I simply love hearing about the positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing opportunities you’re offering people in your neck of the woods. My hat is off to YOU! 🙂

  6. I am enjoying the blossoms on my bird tree (an ornamental plum) and the Pine Siskin and Goldfinches at the feeders hanging in that tree. Below the tree are Violas and Daffodils adding bright spots on this cloudy day. Further out I see an over-abundance of pine cones littering the greening lawn just waiting to be swept up.

  7. As you know Laurie, we have many wonderful views from our home. The one I enjoy most often is likely the least dramatic and that is the one to east from my loft studio. The window is old glass and a bit wavy because the window and casement were recycled or repurposed for our relatively new home. I seldom clean the glass on the outside as I have to climb up on the roof to do so. Therefore the window is most often tear-stained from our heavy west coast rain and south-easterly winds that whip the rain off of the fir trees onto the glass. Yet, it is the view that most often has me sigh in contentment and quite pleasure.

    • Terrill — Having seen many photographs, I know there’s not a window in your home that doesn’t boast a to-die-for view! Like the window in your loft studio, much of the glass in the carriage house we live in (circa 1865) is original — hence wavy. I think it adds to the charm 🙂

  8. The telescope there is awesome. You have to go at night, but they set the big one on something interesting and let you look. They also set up other scopes on the weekend and have people to explain and answer questions.

  9. This great post shows we can learn something from almost everything 🙂 Your question was an easy one: I enjoy the ocean, the nature in the park and the birds flying past my clear glass windows.

  10. As the sunshines these days, I am wishing my windows were clear!! and clean!
    I think my favorite view is the Capital Building reflected on the lake and the fir trees in the breezes animating the scene. Mt. Rainier has been out of the clouds several times recently and it stunning with its sunset “pink” fresh snow. Each window is a painting of something wonderful to enjoy, My husband has designed these windows to capture the amazingness of nature for our eyes, hearts and minds and savor. Lucky me

    March 13th I fell backward down the stairs – I damaged nerves in my right pelvis and had a stroke in my right foot (Foot Fall) I can not drive right now – Windows have become very important too me….working on pain relief nearly 24/ 7 loving my reading time. Hoping the damage will heal and soon.

  11. The view I enjoy most from my window is my garden – the flowers, the trees, the vegetables, etc. in spring, summer and early fall. But not in winter. In winter I want to hide from the snow and bleakness outside. We still have bleakness outside now but spring is coming soon.

  12. My favourite view– but only for one more day before we start heading home– is our clothes line! I love hanging my clothes to dry outside here in Arizona– flanked by cacti and a flowering tree I can’t identify. I’ll miss this when we leave tomorrow!

  13. Interesting facts on glass, Laurie. My windows are all in need of cleaning, but when I sit at my kitchen table, I like to watch the birds at the feeder attached to the window over our kitchen sink–the cats like to watch that, too! We have a lot of trees and many birds. From my seat, I can also see the top of the butterfly bush, where sometimes in the summer I see butterflies and hummingbirds.

  14. Fascinating post Laurie – so many levels.
    The intricate fractal patterns of nature, available when certain conditions are met – the Zen desert is indeed a wonder to contemplate (a different wind would leave a very different pattern).

    The different ways that glass can bend or reflect light at different angles make it very useful in many ways.

    Without my “glasses” (which are no longer glass, but a multi layered and very exactly shaped set of plastics) I would not see much at all, and I do get to enjoy a marvellous view of trees, and ocean and majestic mountains, through the glass of our “ranch-slider” windows/doors.

    And glass is a very interesting substance. It is actually a supercooled liquid. It does flow, but only very slowly. If one measures the thickness of very old glass windows very exactly, they are clearly thinner at the top and thicker at the bottom, but it takes centuries for such flow to create differences noticeable to the naked eye.

    There is an angle at the interface between glass of any particular type, and anything else (including glass of other types) beyond which reflection will occur. This effect is used to constrain LASER light within fibre optic cables (thin ultra clear glass fibre coated with another glass) and give us the ultra high speed communications systems that are now the backbone of the Internet.

    And recycling may not make much sense from the perspective of corporate profits, and it does make sense from the perspective of using the energy available to us from the sun to most efficiently achieve what we want in life. Which is a train of thought leading ultimately to our need to transcend markets as a method of determining value, and to contemplating the sorts of valuation mechanisms we might use instead (like contemplating or experiencing the absence of something to determine a relative value).

    So yes – very Zen, very deep relationships at very many levels.

    • Ted — I learned many things about glass from your rich response, thank you! The carriage house we live in (circa 1865) has some of the original windows that are “wavy” in places, and ever-so-slightly thicker at the bottom. Like you, without my glasses (that aren’t actually glass either) I pretty much operate on the braille method! And I really like your thought on contemplating the absence of something. That’s how I feel about the various multi vitamins and minerals I take. I don’t feel “different” when I take them, but I sure as heck feel “different” (negatively so) when I don’t! 🙂

  15. Great post Laurie. I have a wonderful open view through big glass doors of my backyard of nature, trees and expansive sky. It is my connection to stillness, to peace and to remind me I am connected to everything and everyone. 🙂 Karen

  16. I keep a collection of sea glass in my office. It’s not so much a reminder of how to see, but a reminder that persistence pays off. The water wears off the rough edges, slowly, over time, and changes the glass.

  17. Laurie, I love my rural landscape, the trees, pasture fences, cows and now the Chicken Ladies weeding the the flower beds, something they are Not supposed to be doing. They are eating the chick weed and in the process scattering the mulch everywhere but for where it is supposed to be. Since they have absolutely no fear of me, they love to see me running at them waving my arms and yelling! They think I am trying to fly and they just rock back on their heels and cackle!

    • Sandi — I can just see you running at the Chicken Ladies flopping your arms like a wind-propelled scare crow and them cracking up — slapping their feather-covered knees — knowing it’s you all along 🙂

  18. What an interesting place to visit . You open a new window in my life Laurie.
    I can’t believe it’s been six months that we’ve been living at the farm whilst our three quarter house is being put together. .
    Through the windows of our cottage we see new life everywhere we look. Tiny lambs skipping, a group of chickens strutting their stuff, a proud Westie with her litter of pups daffodils and primroses add a colourful backdrop …we are blessed.

  19. We put our dining table at a window and have a beautiful view of a tree full of woodpeckers, other birds and squirrels as well cattle in the pasture behind us. Looking out that window is a very calm and peaceful experience — most days. There is also a beautiful view of sunrise over the pasture from that window. Most people here want houses with the lake view, but we prefer being nestled in the trees with the wildlife and the cows. We can always stand in our driveway for the lake view or take the short walk down to the lake.

  20. I am at this post lamentably late, but perhaps coincidentally well times, as just today a worker installed a new front door with a clear window in the middle, one that will allow us now to see our appreciable suburban from within, without having to actually open the door. Your post is beautifully wrought with a telling metaphorical context that could bring this question so much more domestic revelations.

    Happy Easter to you and Len!!!

  21. Love the mesmerizing waves of sand you shared in the first photo. Some of my growing up years were in New Mexico, where you’ll find an abundance of sand, and wind. I remember the ongoing works of art as the landscape constantly shifted and moved, leaving behind beautiful patterns in the sand.

    I’ve recently begun dabbling in colored glass, having always been drawn to how the light refracts through a prism, casting colorful shadows against a wall. I love placing my sun catchers in just the right spot, so that the dazzling sparkles will shimmer and dance. It’s a bit like choreographing an impromptu ballet, except that every movement is a surprise.

  22. In our new (New England) home, we’ve placed a bird feeder on the deck railing near our living room window, and in the thick of the blizzards, and as well as now in the beginning bloom of spring, I watch the birds – chickadees and sparrows, woodpeckers and blue jays, and many more – sink into satisfaction as they perch on the feeder and devour the seeds. Somehow, it makes me feel like a bird-goddess-mother, watching over my flock and helping them make it through their days.

  23. I’m fascinated by glass pieces. We recently went to the Chihuly Gardens it was fantastic. Amazing how the graceful wind blown dunes and the gorgeous art are related.

    My favorite view is from our upstairs hall through the large window above our vaulted living room at sunset, above the rooftops past the trees, the various colors red, blue, pink, orange , purple dance with the fading clouds. It’s amazing. If only those rooftops were not there…

  24. Staying at Palm Beach overlooking Pittwater in Sydney, the view is just incredible. It is tidal so it is constantly changing. The other night when I was walking the dogs along the waterfront at sunset, the copper pink palette from the sky was reflected in a whole series of “puddles” created by stingrays looking for food. I usually don’t go anywhere without my camera but was in a rush and I am still cursing.
    The other thing I’ve long enjoyed is reflections on glass and I must be a bit of a surrealist at heart because I love photographing reflections of a cloudy blue sky on glass. On easter Sunday as I was setting the table for dinner with my parents, I noticed the table was like a blanket of clouds and photographed it with the sunset in the background. Wow!

      • Thank you so much, Laurie. Your post also inspired me. It’s just incredible to be sitting in my home and connecting with other talented and determined writers all around the world instead of just sharing my world with my husband and one of two friends. Bring it on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.