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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We do things better together!!!

Here I am sitting down at a table with 16 or so other 'iconographers' and I have never had a paint brush in my hand.  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I may have made a horrible miscalculation in thinking that I could approach this topic from the creative side as opposed to the appreciation side.  I spent the first three hours making parallel lines, curves and squiggles.  But something marvelous developed over the days of this seminar--I never felt alone.   From the very beginning people were reaching out to help me technically and help me feel that I belonged.   Marina, who was from Brazil, was my table partner and she lovingly taught me how to clean my sable hair Russian brushes, mix my lead white paint without poisoning myself, and graciously offered all of her supplies as belonging to 'Us' not her.   She taught me to begin each day with this prayer:  

O divine mater, fervent maker of all creation illuminate the vision of your servant.  Take custody of my heart.  Rule and govern my hands so that worthily and perfectly your image can be portrayed.  For the glory, joy and beauty of your Holy Church, Amen.

It seems to me that his isn't a bad prayer to begin each day with whether or not one is writing icons.  To see through the light of God and to ask God to have custody of my heart as well as ruling my hands seems to me to be a great prayer for daily Christian life.

Here's something else, each brush stroke you make is accompanied by this simple prayer:  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."  The result of saying this prayer is a focus and a confidence that comes not from within but from above.  This too is a common prayer in the Orthodox tradition and one that I plan to incorporate in my daily life.  I would challenge you to use this simple 'Jesus' prayer as you are sitting in the care driving, or waiting in line, or working intently on a project.  See if you too don't find a sense of focus and spiritual nurture as you invoke the name of Christ and confess your need for his mercy.

Community and prayer:  These really are at the heart of living a faithfilled life.  I will have more to say about community in my next post.  Here are two pictures of my Icon in process.  The picture up top are three of many pages of squiggles--enjoy.  Here below is my starting the board with the prototype of John the Baptist.  More to come...

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