Dear Fellow Iconographers:
How do we meditate and contemplate God through the Icons? A good question now that at least more than half the world I live in here in upstate New York associates the word “meditation” with Eastern philosophy.
But Icons have a long history of being used in contemplation and meditation, and we specialize in bringing the valuable truths of the past into our present time. Mystical Eastern spirituality has as its aim for the Icons “to open the heart in contemplative prayer to the transforming vision of God’s Glory.” The Glenstal Book of Icons.
Carl Jung wrote extensively on the power of symbols on our unconscious minds. Symbolic imagery in Icons helps to bypass our intellect and send a message straight to our hearts. For example, I can’t see an image of Mary and the Christ child without immediately identifying with the the Christ Child, and sensing what it was like to be mothered by the gentle, sweet Mary, or identifying with Mary and deeply experiencing what it was like to hold Christ in her arms and nurture him so that he could flourish. Whenever I see that image I think of my newest painting or Icon and ask in prayer, how can I be Mary to my painting? How can I be the Christ child in Mary’s arms to my art work? Each time, in contemplation and meditation new facets and ideas come as a result. Ideas I would not have had otherwise.
“Through the symbolism of the icons, access is gained to the absolute otherness of God in the silent union of mystical prayer: one goes through the sense of sight to the one who is beyond all vision. The meditative work demanded in absorbing the imagery of the icons is essential if prayer is to reach such a state beyond ideas, images, and acts- beyond the work of the head. Only thus can the prayer we make with the body and the mind become a real “heart work”, a deep transforming union with God in love. The mystical traditions of Christianity, East and West, all teach that such prayer is the only source of inner peace and stability. It is the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, of which the Gospel speaks. Matthew 13:44-46″ The Glenstal Book of Icons, Gregory Collins, OSB
The Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconography will be sharing our newest Icons with outreaches to the community this spring and early summer. We will try to share the stories of each saint in our Icons as well as have dialogue with the public about prayer and meditation with the Icons. The first two venues are planned to be: Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, 1st Presbyterian church in Hudson. We plan to create a traveling exhibition so if your church would like to host one, and perhaps hear a lecture on Icons, let me know. “Never forget the joy of spreading Icons throughout the world”!
RECOMMENDED SOURCE FOR ICON MATERIALS:
Natural Pigments is an excellent source of tempera materials, gold leaf, anything you need to make Icons- they probably have. They also have a section called “articles” another page on their website that is full of useful materials information.
UPCOMNG ICON WRITING CLASSES:
Albany, New York Westminster Presbyterian Church, Chestnut St., Monday evenings 6-9PM. Class size is limited-email to ensure space.
Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY May 6-8 Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Introduction to Icon Writing.
Here is a video that my husband, Michael who most of you know, made recently about art and the Creator.. Hope you enjoy it!
Until next month, be blessed!