Faith on Friday: (Our Nation is) Yearning for Mother-Love

Part of my icon studio, six years ago

Part of my icon studio, six years ago

I miss writing icons. Yesterday I found this link to a wonderful video that demonstrates the process of writing an icon, and I found myself enthralled as I watched. (The iconographers are Anton and Ekaterina Daineko, a married couple from Minsk, Belarus, who are teaching workshops in the U.S. this summer.) I even got a little teary-eyed. And while I feel strongly that I will never return to this liturgical art form, I will always be thankful for the time I spent learning, practicing and teaching it, because of the greater understanding and appreciation of iconography those years gave me. (If you missed my post about five years ago on why I retired from writing icons, it’s here.) 

And so this morning when I went to our icon corner to do my morning prayers, I smiled as I read about the saints who are commemorated in the Orthodox Church today. And especially about this event, which is also commemorated: “The Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.” In 1579 in Kazan, Russia, a terrible fire destroyed part of the city, but spared a nine-year-old girl named Matrona, although her house was burned. The Mother of God appeared to Matrona and directed her where to find a miracle-working icon, buried under a stove, covered in ashes, but wrapped in cloth for protection. The icon was taken to the Annunciation cathedral, where it became known for healing the blind and curing eye diseases. A church was built on the site where it was found, but sadly it was later destroyed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution.

I found this wonderful poem in the book, Mother of God, Similar to Fire (given to me by friends a few years ago), which contains beautiful icons paired with poems—a form of ekphrastic writing that I enjoy immensely. The icons are written by William Hart McNichols and the poetry is by Mirabai Starr. I don’t have permission to publish her poem in its entirely, so I’ll quote a part of it here:

KazanOur Lady of Kazan

You lived a fully, deeply human life,

And this humanity is what helps us feel connected to you.

This world is yearning for your Mother-Love.

Show our leaders how to guide us

With respect for our dignity and well-being.

Teach us to love one another

With boundless patience

And unbridled joy.

 

I found these words—and the beautiful icon (which I’ve only shared a detail of here) comforting to offer as a prayer as our nation mourns the loss of more lives to violence on our streets and in our homes.

 

2 comments


  • How beautiful, and how touching. Thank you for honoring this incredibly beautiful art, especially during this bloody week, in so many parts of the world. Dona nobis pacem, Mother Mary.

    July 10, 2016
    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Alison. It has been a tough week, indeed.

      July 10, 2016

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