Making seen that which is unseen. That is what I do in my iconography studio.
Working for so many years in my iconography studio has taught me many things. However, I think the most important lesson is that I have come to see the world as a metaphor, nearly everything which happens to us is screaming to be understood through the eye of spirit, we just need to reflect long enough to hear the message. The awe of the unexpected opens us up in a moment but its significance can hover throughout our life trying to reveal its great wisdom.
In 1976, I first met my husband’s mother, Dometila on the ranch, in a black soot filled kitchen with a low roof and dirt floor in Mexico. The community all agreed she made the finest cheese anywhere. I did not know the significance of her fame for making cheese till one day we sat together as she made some. I had come into the kitchen after she had prepared the goat milk by boiling it on an open wood hearth and it was cooling in the metal can in the corner with a towel over the top. She situated the large can of milk by the door and straddled herself on a low stool just behind the bucket. She dropped a tiny piece of dried goat stomach into the milk and sat there looking at me.
After 5 minutes or so she leaned forward and gently submerged both hands deep down into the very warm milk up to her elbows. She sat there with me never saying a word and only one or two small movements with her arms in the milk. It looked to me like she was adjusting her spine or shoulders as she sat still as stone for about 15 minutes. Then with no warning or explanation she slightly leaned back. She pulled her arms up out of the milk, between her two dark wrinkly old hands came a perfect ball of white curd, shinny smooth ready to put in the bag to press out the whey.
Amazing! Icons are like that!
They are made by millions of tiny quiet intentional brushstrokes, which become beauty and nourishment for the soul. The story is significant for me because she seemed to have made something out of nothing, she transformed liquid into solid, she made flesh out of spirit.
I was raised up like that lump of curd from warm milk, lifted out of my 60 years of effort and made into a walking icon; I didn’t even notice what was happening. The thing is, we all come from the same kind of milk, the good stuff is turned into cheese and nutrition for others, and the whey is left behind.