Stained-Glass Beauty and Unspeakable Joy

December 14, 2023 - Every December, HighGround sends Christmas cards to our client partners. For nearly a decade, those cards have been thoughtfully designed by Lacy Cagle, HighGround's Director of Creative, Communications, & Culture. We recently sat down, fireside, with Lacy to learn more about her design process and the meaning behind this year's card.

How long have you been designing HighGround's Christmas cards?
I started at HighGround in October of 2014, and I’ve been designing our Christmas cards since 2015. Prior to that, HighGround selected a card from a catalog, and I felt that creating our own intentionally designed piece would be a connection opportunity with our clients. It’s different than any other design work I get to do here because we’re able to push beyond the boundaries typical of corporate design.

Do you have a favorite card?
I know others have favorites. Our Gifts of the Season card in 2018 is the favorite among clients. It had a calendar with tabs you could flip open each day. Clients tell us they pull it out year after year to count down to Christmas. I like the way last year’s card came together. It was simple and clean, and those are often the most difficult designs to execute well. But, I also like the message of our Counting Your Blessings card from 2019. It gave people an opportunity to do that by writing on the card.

What was your inspiration for this year’s card?
Design inspiration is a fluid and dynamic force that can emerge from the most unexpected sources. It transcends the confines of traditional brainstorming, permeating the ordinary moments of our lives. My inspiration for this year’s card came from a sign outside of a Methodist church in my neighborhood that read, “God is better seen through a kaleidoscope of diverse stories.” The image of a kaleidoscope as a representation of diversity and unity - how we’re all different but can be unified beautifully - really resonated with me. I didn’t know yet how I would use this image, but that’s typically the case in design.

Inspiration can hit in lots of different places. Whether it's the collaborative energy of a weekly staff meeting, the enchantment of a family vacation to Disneyland, or the insightful message conveyed by a sign outside a neighborhood church, inspiration knows no bounds. It thrives in the diversity of experiences, drawing from the kaleidoscope of emotions and observations that shape our daily existence. Our Count Your Blessings card’s inspiration came to me at an all-staff meeting. I have an idea that came to me while on a family trip to Disneyland that I haven’t used yet.

So, the image of a kaleidoscope, with the diversity and unity it represented, was swimming in your mind. Walk me through how the idea evolved from there.
There is a lot of unrest in the world right now. It’s not exactly a time of unity or peace. I wanted to make sure whatever was presented on the card didn’t convey insensitivity or unawareness of current events. The kaleidoscope seemed to be a cool concept, but I couldn’t figure out how do that with paper in a way that was sensitive to the times.

I started to think about it from a color palette standpoint. We had just given a presentation to the staff about the HighGround story and how our people can use their stories to share the HighGround message as brand ambassadors. I decided I wanted to incorporate our staff into the Christmas card and bring the diversity of our stories into the message. That led me to crowdsourcing. I asked our staff to select their favorite Pantone color. I was thinking about how to utilize a diverse color palette and how everybody’s color could be represented.

The next evolution of that concept led to stained glass. Throughout history, stained-glass windows have stood as eloquent storytellers, weaving narratives with vibrant hues and intricate patterns. The stained-glass “Joy” on this year’s card doesn’t have arbitrary colors; it's a deliberate fusion of hues chosen by HighGround employees, a representation of our diverse talents and distinct callings. This intentional selection ensures that the window truly encapsulates the essence of who we are. Every single person’s color is on the card, and I can point to where they are represented.

What was important to you to communicate with this card?
It was neat that the team’s selected colors manifested into three main paletteseach bearing its own symbolism, akin to the traditions of stained-glass craftsmanship:

  • Blue: A Canopy of Hope and Heaven
    Symbolizing the vastness of the sky and the heavens, blue evokes emotions of hope and sincerity. In our stained-glass representation, it becomes a celestial thread that binds our aspirations and collective spirit.
  • Red: The Blood of Christ, the Embrace of Love
    Traditionally associated with the blood of Christ, red transcends its religious connotations to embody profound emotions, particularly love. As a key color in our window, it signifies the depth of our passion for what we do and the bonds that unite us.
  • Green: Nature, Renewal and Faith
    A representation of nature and new beginnings, green extends its symbolism to embody faith and immortality. In our stained-glass tapestry, it intertwines with the other colors, symbolizing our commitment to growth and the enduring nature of our collective mission.

Beyond the symbolism of the colors and stained glass, I wanted to convey an appropriate message in words too. As I typically do, I was listening to a lot of Christmas music and immersing myself in Christmas imagery while designing the card. I heard Chris Tomlin’s version of “Joy to the World” and his added chorus that sings of “unspeakable joy.” That phrase stood out to me. It’s not just talking about a joy that is disconnected from the unrest in the world or the trials in our lives, but the idea of finding a joy that transcends our circumstances.

"Unspeakable Joy" isn't a mere phrase; it's a profound concept etched into the fabric of our stained-glass narrative:

  • Beyond Circumstances: Joy Unspeakable isn't contingent on our present circumstances; it's a resilient force, transcending the ebb and flow of external experiences. It stands as a testament to our ability to find joy, irrespective of challenges or trials.
  • Fruit of the Spirit: Joy, in its unspeakable form, isn't a standalone emotion but a fruit of the Spirit. It germinates from the core of our collective being, intertwining with our shared values and ethos.
  • Inexpressible Wonder: True to its name, Joy Unspeakable is beyond the bounds of expression. It's a sublime emotion that defies description, resonating with a depth that words cannot encapsulate.

As our stained-glass window becomes a visual hymn to Unspeakable Joy, my hope is that it will serve as a reminder that no matter the circumstances, there is joy.