Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The First Christian Tabernacle

Icon, "The First Tabernacle", written by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Tonight I want to share with you my most recent icon.  I don't know if you can grasp any sense of how deeply I am moved by this icon just by looking at it, but I can say with great sincerity that rarely have I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as strongly as I did during the many hours I spent "writing" this icon.  In fact, it is almost as though it belongs to someone else, not me.

Actually, I have been wanting to do an icon showing a very stylized image of Our Lady's pregnancy for several years now.  The desire was planted in my heart when I first came across the following information in the Christmas catalogue of Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario.

There I read that the image below was created as a Christmas card for Madonna House Apostolate in the late 1960s by the famous Canadian artist, William Kurelek  The following quotation from Catherine Doherty (foundress of Madonna House Apostolate) is printed inside:

“The donkey that carried Our Lady to Bethlehem took another form in my thoughts. For he carried the Word – a dumb animal, carrying a Virgin who carried God – and so he was the carrier of God too. His bells were the first church bells, for Mary was the first Church, the first tabernacle of Christ.” 
"The Donkey Carrying God" by William Kurelek

Up until the time I read this information and saw this drawing, I had never really thought about Our Lady actually being the first Tabernacle of the Christian Church. 

But even after I had seen the image I wanted to create in my mind, I was afraid to try to draw it as I am well aware of how many "real" iconographers frown on images that are to earthy, too physical.  And so I waited.  Then one day I came across an on-line discussion regarding a very controversial icon showing the actual babies in the wombs of Our Lady and her cousin, Elizabeth, as they met in the scene we call "The Visitation".  The following comments finally gave me the courage I needed to step out in faith and draw the image that was in my heart.

"I know I will be burnt at the stake for what I'm going to say, but speaking as a theologian and iconographer (I'm doing my doctorate on icons), I have to disagree and say that there is nothing theologically wrong with this icon. It depicts the historical reality of the Gospel story. That according to the Fathers and the councils is the purpose of the icon. Nowhere, do the Fathers or the Councils teach that the icons are meant to portray some kind of "spiritual reality". The idea that icons are supposed to be "spiritual" and portray the "holiness" of the person depicted is found nowhere in the teachings of the Fathers, but appeared in the 20th century by Russian theologians living in the West who were trying to make icons acceptable in West which had rejected Byzantine iconography as primitive. The Fathers are completely realistic. The icon is to depict the person/ homoeostasis, not the essence/holiness/theosis and all the other interpretations that were imposed in the icon in the 20th century. The icon is meant to depict historical reality. To say that an icon of the crucifixion only depicts "spiritual reality" is docetism. It means that Christ was not crucified in reality but only spiritually. To say that the icon depicts "spiritual reality" not physical reality" is not Orthodox."
Now, I would be very interested in knowing what you think about this type of icon. 


More Identity Theft

I came across two more photos of identity theft -- this time roosters were the deceivers.  I also found two photos of rabbit/cat lookalikes.  I don't think you could call them identity theft photos as it is impossible to say whether either one is trying to pass as the other!  So, don't worry, just enjoy.

That is one clever rooster!

Now why this Turkey Vulture wants to pass as a Rooster is beyond me.
I can only assume that he has had the misfortune to fall in love with a hen!

What an adorable photo -- especially the kitten appearing
to have his arm around the bunny rabbit!

Another set of "twins"



The photo below is not an actual photo of Suki; rather it is a photo of a black cat doing a very Suki-like action.

The Flying Cat!
Most all cats get into attack mode every so often.  Suki tends to do this just at bedtime!

As I am going about the business of turning off all the lights and putting everything away for the night, she climbs up on one of her perches and cowers down almost flat again the surface.  She seems to think she is hidden but that silly tale of hers is sticking up in the air and twitching away so I know what she is planning.

The next time I walk past her, she makes a flying leap towards me, but since I am forewarned, I am able to easily avoid her.  This, of course, seems to increase her agitation and she quickly finds another spot where she can "hide" and wait for the prey (me) to come close again.  She doesn't really seem interested in catching me, just startling me.  Occasionally I don't see her so when she leaps, she startles me and I yell loudly.  This seems to make her very happy -- it is almost like she is keeping score!

One good thing about this behaviour is that by the time I am finally ready for bed, she has usually tired herself out sufficiently so that she, too, is ready to settle down for another nap.

When I came home from the doctor's yesterday afternoon, however, I told Suki that she must not frighten me any more for the next little while or else the consequences could be very unsettling for us both.  This is because I found out yesterday the results of my heart stress test.  It appears that I have had what they call a "silent" heart attack some time during the past months and I also have a blocked artery.  I was told that arrangements are being made for me to see the cardiologist very soon.

This all comes as a bit of a shock to me as I had always thought that my heart was one part of my body that had never had any problems.  So now I begin an experience with all sorts of new things to learn and decisions to make.  The most irritating part of this entire business is that now every time I feel the least little bit of discomfort in my chest or arm, I immediately think "oh, could this be serious?"  Truly, sometimes ignorance is bliss!

Anyway, I do want to say a big thank you to my friend, Brenda -- the one who visited me from Alabama back in December. She heard me complaining about what I thought were simply some unusual indigestion symptoms and she told me right away that I should mention these symptoms to my doctor.  Although I felt it was a waste of time to say anything, I finally did so simply because Brenda kept reminding me about it.  As soon as my doctor heard what I had to say, she arranged the stress test and you know the rest.

We just never know where God's love will take us next!

Let us ask Our Lady, she who carried the Christ Child in her womb, to intercede for us all -- young, old and in-between -- babies being born and those folks who will die this night.  Dear Lady, may we all be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

And, whatever comes our way, may the peace of God be with us always. Amen.

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