Many times over 40 years I have drifted off thinking there is another way in another church, or new knowledge with a new priest, I would get inspired by a book and toddle off to explore some practice done by said holy person. I have practice tai chi for 18 years, another practice filled with “right” ways and “wrong” ways, good and bad teachers, a 3,000 year time tested tradition. Just as icon painting is a tested tradition, Iconography offers a right and wrong way of doing things. Iconography is another system of mankind’s search for the divine handed down and practiced for two thousand of years.
I continue to leave the church and go back. The Episcopal Church represents for me comfort and familiarity so I end up there over and over. But most important, the Anglicans give permission to search and question, they honor the mind. Perhaps they have found a way in the prayer book to indulge God better than any other faith I can find.
Icon images explore being with, without, within and with who?
Awareness of God is an icon is a product of prayer. Some of us are haunted by the fear we will one day be alone. However, in truth we are never alone. I imagine myself in a dingy floating in an ocean of God. His immense presence has taught me it is usually enough to know I am loved. Yes there are islands of people and things to do there on land. I have to row towards shore from time to time to rest and check out what is changing. Leaving the island and all its wonderful familiarity is freedom. I would love to know how to offer others what I have found out at sea while floating.
Everyone invents their own practice.
I have found out that everyone is correct for themselves. There is plenty of inclusion and connective tissue in every faith practice; all you have to do is shed your individual tradition for a while to join them.
What a surprise! Icon painting found me. The practice is from the Orthodox faith, I am not Orthodox. I am a woman painting icons outside the tradition with no authority from them so my painted icons are not considered sacred. Scared or not, I know the work has been done with a sincere love of God.
Years ago while participating in liturgies at a Lutheran church in Abingdon, Virginia .I was asked to be a member, I said “yes”. The pastor said, “we have to know where your previous membership was to send them a letter renouncing any future involvement”, I said “no” I will always be an Episcopalian and a Catholic too. The Catholics have said to receive Eucharist anywhere outside the Catholic Church does not count, all of this seems like Nonsense to me !
I never feel like I have been away from God, church doors are always open. The prodigal son story is all about coming home and being loved. The Father has plenty of space in all his house and in all icon painting.