What Icon Painting with Millions of Grains of Colored Sand Has Taught Me

CHAOS and FRACTALS and POSSIBILITIES…What is going on?

(1) We are in the end times.

(2) Humanity has never seen such greed and selfishness before.

(3) We are experiencing life as chaos. As people experience their world spinning out of control and sense their own powerlessness with daily craziness, acts of violence, and unimaginable suffering, nothing seems stable.

Destruction and ruin lurk everywhere, taking many forms. It feels uncertain, too many anxious individuals living in a worn out system. Our vulnerability is increasing as cyber technology exposes us and hacking holds us hostage.

It is scary stuff filled with fear and anxiety.

We are not able to function well – our thoughtfulness, creativity, and ability to respond with kindness is being compromised.  The surge of unbridled greed and selfishness is effecting everything; our families, schools, governments, the eco system, religion, commerce, science, etc. Greed and selfishness bread evil, destructive, supremacy, and lives with no reverence. We are living in a time of social regression, “charity no longer begins at home” . Our hearts are tight, our souls are afraid, and our minds have ceased to think well. We are living separate and isolated lives, tainted by the “loveless” behavior of others.

Co-operation among people, states, cities, counties, and nations have all been thwarted by chaos. We live in a world of lies, forgetting that one part of the system does indeed affect all parts of the system. We live an illusion outside the natural order where all things are connected. We believe the sun, the rain, the earth, the stars and ocean all work in cosmic harmony, without us. We live privileged lives thinking we are not part of a larger, complex world system at virtually every level. Fractals are a hopeful metaphor for what is happening.

Out of chaos emerges the new order. Chaos is a natural part of the universal cycle of life. Chaos is not a total absence of order. It appears we are living with a profound lack of organization or order, yet with time what eventually arise is a pattern for the future. Within the “chaos” is everything needed to create the future. A fractal is a thing of beauty and wonder that when seen in small scale may seem disconnected. Yet as you back up and away of the one part, all the parts become organized beauty and pattern. The metaphor is a good one for today, each of us is being called to get out of the one moment or one problem or one person and see a larger landscape. The new bigger picture is filled with pattern repetition and grace. We have a grand opportunity to interpret and connect the dots in new and different ways.

I paint with millions of grains of colored sand mixed with egg yolk. That is what icon painting is about. But who could possibly believe what the whole image looks like if they only saw a small fragment.

It is in icon painting that I have learned that we cannot see the whole if we look only at the moment. We cannot see the ocean if we keep looking at the beach.In the midst of all this chaos of greed and selfishness something wonderful is happening. By God’s grace we are living in a fractal moment. God’s gift to us, is precisely the possibility of this moment, even if it appears like horror show. I would ask, “What do we see, think and understand and what are we to do?” First, make the commitment to live in the midst of this moment through acceptance, none of us own it, sustain it or maintain it. Step up to the creative process of living, experimenting, focusing, examining, seeing all the potential that has been given. As a believer I ask myself, “How can I best serve God? Creation? Others? How do I connect the ocean and the sand in my mind and make peace with things which are so much greater than I? How do I learn from the wonder and beauty of great situations and accept them as simply patterns repeating in millions of ways.

God works through all icon painters and the Spirit will lead us to create the new things, in a new order that will support, sustain, and enliven our future. It will be good, a complete and bodacious surprise.

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