Today was an eventful day. I completed the icon of Jesus Blessing the Children. It will “cure” for about 3 months, then I will put a final protective coat of beeswax over it, to give it a soft luminous finish.
This icon has been part of an intense spiritual journey for me. Influenced by media and culture, I began working on the image while feeling somewhat self-righteous towards a Church that can appear legalistic, fraught with scandal and caught up in outmoded rules. But the love and compassion that Jesus extends towards the children He has also extended to me. Just as His touch changed the lives of each child He blessed, it has also changed me. During the course of completing this icon, this work of prayer, I have thought long about my attitudes and what Jesus is telling me. I have been led to some interesting reading, particularly a book by Matthew Kelly called Rediscovering Catholicism, and another by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection called The Practice of the Presence of God. Both have helped me not only to appreciate more fully the teachings of the Church and their basis, but also to be more aware of the power of God in my life. As I painted the icon, the faces of the apostles Mark and Luke changed. The original series of drawings showed them disapproving and frowning. By the time I finished painting, their expressions showed their struggle to understand a different way to look at life, and a humble acceptance of revealed truth. Matthew and Mark do not wear halos in this, and many other icons, because they have not yet been fully transformed into the image of Christ. They still journey on their respective spiritual paths to holiness, and with this symbol of their flawed humanity, I can truly relate to them.