I worked today on a new icon, Jesus Blessing the Children, which will be written traditionally with egg tempera on a gessoed board. The first stage of writing an icon involves much analysis, drawing, and especially, prayer. I have completed several drawings and am moving towards a final composition, pending the approval of the recipient. As I drew, I prayed one of my favorite “working” prayers: Holy God, Holy Immortal, Holy Mighty, have mercy on us. It seems to fit this icon very well. I prayed for the recipient of the icon as well, and hope that he is continuing to pray for me during this spiritual journey.
I reflect on the image, and the Scriptures, as I work, trying to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the process. The Gospels note that the apostles objected to children being brought to the Lord, but Jesus overruled them, saying that we all need to come to Him with an open trusting heart, like a little child. Jesus will accept all who come to Him this way. The apostles seem to me to be representative of the institutional Church, wanting to impose rules and restrictions. Jesus corrects them, making Himself open and available. It is a hopeful sign to me that the apostles, chastened, believed and followed Jesus’ teachings. They came around in the end, despite their first instincts. Our natural human inclination is to resist change, resist what is different. I hope that we, as individuals and as Church, can be like the apostles, learning to accept all of God’s children with love and kindness as we witness to the truth of Jesus Christ through our lives, words, and example. As this icon continues to develop, I will continue to reflect on and learn from the image.