Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not Made By Hands fin

My first icon, Savior Not Made By Hands, is complete. 

I have to say, I am amazed by it.  It's important to point out that there is absolutely no way that I could have completed this by itself.  Note my previous post, Sharing the Pen.  My teacher is truly a master, and I feel grateful to be working with her.

It was my plan to keep this first icon for myself.  He would have a cozy little spot in my little "Inner Sanctum" room upstairs.  It's there I go and shut the door to pray, meditate, read, or just be.  It is filled with things I love - art from my children, my Grandmother's Bible, pictures of my grandparents and family, some icons, a collection of crosses, candles, a censer and holy incense, and books.... lots and lots and lots of books.

When I finished him, I immediately knew that he was not going to live in my little room.  I was compelled to give him to my church.  There was no choice in the matter, I simply knew that is where it was intended to go.  Iconography (and I associate myself with that term as a complete and utter novice) is an ecclesiastical art.  That is, it is intended for the church.  My teacher, Ms. Russian Master, reminded me to be sure to have it blessed on the altar and to use it in the church for prayer.  With her thick Russian accent, she exuberantly explained to me that it needed to be used for prayer because prayer is what ... what... she searched for the English word.  I think I understand, prayer is what deepens, enhances, and strengthens the mystery of that icon.  It's as if spiritual life is breathed into the "soul" of the icon through the prayers of the faithful.

An icon is not a pretty picture to hang on the wall.  It is much more about prayer and mystery.  Iconographers follow strict rules prescribed by the Orthodox church.  Every line and color has meaning.  The person or event depicted in the icon is a window that draws us into the sacred mystery of faith.  While writing it, you are suspended in prayer to the figure depicted in the icon.  It is a spiritual discipline rather than an art form.  It is not about the artist expressing herself; it is about Christ (in this case) expressing Himself through the prayerful writing of the icon.

So today at Wednesday Eucharist, my Priest Friend blessed the icon for me and asked me to say a few words about it.  I told the story of the legend of the icon -- how a Syrian king with leprosy was healed by a towel bearing the image of Christ's face.  I told how I was surprised that my first icon simply had to be this one; and how it made sense because when I began writing it, JSB was terribly sick and had just entered the hospital.  It made sense that I had to write an icon about the healing power of Christ, even though I had no idea of the story when I chose it -- or it chose me.

I told how I could attest to the healing power of Christ and how powerful the experience of spending time in prayer with this healing Savior was.  I told how JSB is preparing to move into a transitional apartment soon, and how fitting it was that I was working on this icon at the beginning and end of his six-month hospitalization.

But, most importantly, it was so clear to me how blessed I would be if others could spend time in prayer with this healing Christ, and if they experienced the healing power of his love, and if, in turn, their prayers fortified the mystery of this icon that leads us to Christ.

1 comment:

Site Meter