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Friday, June 25, 2010

Seriously out of my comfort zone...a good place to be

I have meet many spiritual people in my life, I've meet some good people, faithful people, loving people; but I'm not sure I've every met as authentically holy a person as Xenia Pokrovskaya.  She is an octogenarian (80 and above) who growing up in the Soviet Union as a Biophysicist, secretly leaned the art of the Iconographer--The making of new Icons was against the law in the Soviet Union.   She has a humble spirit, a brilliant mind, a love of the church, the passion to teach, and a light that radiates from her as it does the incredible icons she creates.   I think I'm a better person for having been in her company.   (By the way when I say holy...don't think pious...she sat on the floor outside the dorm we are staying in smoking a cigarette while others of us drank a beer or two and discussed the days events).

But why mention this at all?  There is here in the Orthodox tradition a search, a yearning, and even an expectation of the holy that we are missing in the western church.  Holiness is something that one tries to enter into through the world of iconography--the images are meant to be windows into heaven.   The images are venerated, not worshipped.  They are prayed 'through' not 'to.'  All of this is very curious to us in the western church who have elevated Word as the primary means by which we come to know the Gospel.  In the Orthodox tradition Icon equals Gospel--that is, the image itself is a pure and true proclamation of the Good News of Jesus.  This is a very foreign idea to us in the western church--and a foreign idea to me as well.
So I find myself a theological foreigner in this land of iconographer.  Not only that, I am completely unskilled at anything artistic. I have never picked up a brush to paint nor have I ever graduated past stick figures with my pencil.   But something from the very beginning has made me think there is something important, even good to be discovered here.   And if my first encounter with a very hospitable set of people, and one extraordinary Russian Grandmother is any indication it should be quite a ride.

Matins here is at 6:45 am...so no complaining about 8:30 worship at Our Savior's!!!   Go to worship and keep an eye out for the holy...I'm sure it's at OSLC too!!!  

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