As a teacher, I learn just as much as my iconography students do. And the most important thing I have learned from my iconography lessons is that: God is not “A” being but BE-ing itself
Thomas Aquinas said Deus est ens, ‘God is being itself’. The Dominicans say everything participates in being because God IS being.
There is a sacredness in everything.That desire to know, to connect to, to be part of, is why we are attracted to beauty, love, goodness and each other. Awaken to your connection to everything–inherently, objectively, metaphysically, ontologically, and theologically. We don’t create the connection through going to church or any other spiritual practice. The interconnection is revealed with awareness, it is the perceptible divine pulse in all which life exists.
You are what you are looking for.
While in Greece I met a woman named Victoria from Slovakia. She was confident and very Orthodox and only painted Byzantine icons when she was inspired. She said she had the finished ones all over her house and never sold them.
I asked her why? and she said “i don’t know why.” She asked me about my icon painting, I said I had more than 500 icon paintings and most were under the bed and in closets. She asked why? and I said “who knows, I’m waiting.”She said ‘Good ‘and it was no accident I had so many and one day they will be seen… IF they are icons painted by the rule and then asked if I know the rule. I said, “you mean, to love God with your whole heart, mind and soul” she said, “ No, the byzantine icon rule!” and did I know the power icon paintings posses.
We talked about the way our souls felt split apart between what we are attracted to and what we can’t understand. We talked about having our hands blessed for icon painting and the beauty in this wonderful spiritual practice. We spoke of being transformed into walking icons through the power of ; ‘You are what you seek’.
Everything was great till we got to the sacrament part!!
The conversation went on for a good long time where I became more and more confused why the rules and tradition had turned her pious favoritism towards into rigidity. I kept wanting to expand the conversation. Then we got talking about church and Holy Eucharist. I suggested we go to the Orthodox service the next day and saying the sacrament will be a delight,(dinner with Jesus so to speak). She said “Oh No!. You cannot do that, you are not Orthodox”. ‘WOW, I thought to myself, 20 years painting icons and there I sat shocked wondering if I had ever had dinner with the real Jesus?’. The next day, I went anyway but alone.
My experience with the organized Church is a challenge and a testing ground, not always validating and not always encouraging but it has a valued place in my heart. I try to focus mostly on the way it exposes the great divinity in all of us.
Franciscan Mysticism: I Am That Which I Am Seeking.
Icon painting has taught me, God is not “A” being but BEi-ng itself. Icon Painting has influenced how I seek myself in all things and that self is the same self within all of creation. I have spoken before about lemons, they teach us just by being lemons, through their image, existence and essence, their ‘BE-ing’. Icon painting is the same. The actual icon paint, painted image and spiritual practice wrapped together teach, all I have to do is stay awake and learn. I am not exactly talking about lemons or icon painting, I am talking about essence. There is no value in separating what we think is Good and what is not Good. It causes division and comparison both of which change. I am looking for what does not change, the “I Am” within the existence of all things, in every situation throughout the day.
All I can say is, if you are an icon painter, Good Luck. I watch millions of tiny grains in the egg tempera paint come to rest on a landscape of dirt and color and I think what a bumpy path this has been,…. Wisdom. And above all, these iconography lessons can teach you that there is no one God, but a mighty supreme, A God.