Wednesday, 27 June 2012

More of the Holy Family

Icon, The Holy Family (encircled), by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

As most of you are aware, I always am working on icons.  I may take a break occasionally and draw flowers or some other subject, but primarily I work on icons.  I do this because I have a passion for them.  The subject matter pleases me, leading me to be very aware of the subject of my drawing -- especially of the Christian witness and prayer life of the particular saint on whose image I am working.

However, sometimes these icons do not really work out artistically -- not according to my view anyway.  Rarely will I actually discard an image I have worked on, but fairly frequently I will push that image to the back of my icon file.  Then some time later when I come across the image again, I may try to re-work it or just finish it. 

The three icons I want to show you in this posting are of a very familiar subject, the Holy Family.  The actual family icon above is a different type of drawing in that I placed the icon within a circular frame.  The boy, Jesus, shown in the drawing is supposed to be a young child although in typical icon fashion, He looks almost like a small man rather than a boy.  In fact, the original of this icon shows St. Joseph holding doves in one hand which would suggest that this might be a representation of the young Jesus being brought to the temple soon after his birth!

You will notice in the icon of St. Joseph and the child, Jesus following this paragraph that here again Jesus looks more like a little man than a child.  This technique of showing Jesus in this manner has been part of the drawing of icons since the beginning.  The only time you usually see a baby Jesus is in an icon of the Nativity -- even then you sometimes see that the face resembles that of a little man.

I have an opinion as to why this was done.  It was a way of battling the false teaching that Jesus did not know who He was.  The Church has held that Jesus always knew who He was and where He had come from and where He was going.  He was always true God and true Man.  This knowledge did not just suddenly come to Him as He was hanging on the cross as a number of modern scholars try to say.  Thus if you show Jesus like a little man rather than a young boy, you indicate that He carried a certain mature knowledge within Him at all times -- even from His birth.

Icon, St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Finally, the third icon is another one of our Lady and the Child.  She holds her son in her arms as though He is a small baby and yet His body and face clearly show Our Lord as a young man.  I know that many western Catholics find this very unsettling and say things like "why can't they make Jesus look like a baby or a child?"  Yet, it is always good to remember that icons are not, and never have been, intended to be pretty pictures.  Rather they are "windows to Heaven" that are meant to help us see and understand something of the truth of the Heavenly realities. 

Icon, Theotokos -- hands full of Grace, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

A couple of people who follow my blog have said to me that I must really like doing icons of Our Lady/the Theotokos as I have done so many.  The truth is that I started publishing a calendar last year of icons of our Blessed Mother.  It proved to be so popular that I plan to make it a tradition.  That means I will need at least 10 new icons of Our Lady each year (the other two could be repeats without anyone getting upset, I think).  As a matter of fact, I not only do wall and desk calendars of Our Lady, but I also do the same with new drawings of flowers.  So if you are interested in having a copy of one or the other or both for yourself, please let me know in plenty of time.



I frequently come across photos of the natural world --often in out-of-the-way places where such scenes are seldom seen by human eyes -- that are incredibly beautiful.  There is no reason for such beauty to be present, yet, God is The Creator, the Master Artist.  Often these are just ordinary objects that are beautiful even in the process of decay or erosion.  Things that have no need to be beautiful, but simply are.  Below are a few examples of what I am talking about.

A painted desert.  This is a unique geological phenomenon known as Danxia landform. These phenomena can be observed in several places in China. This example is located in Zhangye, Province of Gansu. The color is the result of an accumulation for millions of years of red sandstone and other rocks.

Desert with Phacelia (Scorpion Weed). Flowering occurs only once in several years.  This is the sort of thing that happens all the time and it often comes and goes without anyone even laying eyes on it.  Such beauty and it may only be seen by God, alone.

I have had this photo for a number of years. I enjoy looking at it and trying to imagine what it must feel like to be travelling through the desert and suddenly come upon cool shade and fresh water. At first, would I not say to myself, "surely this must be a mirage."

These trees grow in the forest near Gryfino, Poland. The cause of the curvature is unknown. What a lovely shape these tree trunks have and yet no one knows why?



Suki carrying a placard*
after I went after her with
the spray bottle last night!
Poor Suki. 

I do not know how she made this sign, but there it was around her neck when I awoke this morning.  Of course, that was not the first time I had been awake during the early morning hours.  In fact, I was awakened about 1:30 by all sorts of unusual noises.  It took me a moment, as usual, to figure out what was going on -- although I knew right away that Suki must be up to no good.  Apparently, what I figured out was that she had created some new game for herself which involved chasing one of her play mice until she lost it under a piece of furniture.  At which time, she would meow as she tried to get the mouse back.  When she couldn't accomplish this, she pulled another play mouse out of her toy basket and begin the process all over again.  (who gave her those things anyway?) 

I asked her politely several times to stop making all that noise, but after being obviously ignored and wanting very much to get back to sleep, I took the drastic measure of reaching for the spray bottle filled with water.  This turned out to be a mistake for while it was clear that she disliked being sprayed with water, instead of sending her scurrying off to give herself a good wash, she just became even crazier!  By now I was desperately seeking sleep and to my own surprise, I found myself grabbing Suki in mid-flight and dumping her unceremoniously into the bathroom and shutting the door!  I am so ashamed of myself as I recall all of this today -- I can only blame a lack of sleep.

Anyway, back to the story.  It took Suki a few minutes to realize what had happened and then she began to protest rather loudly.  Of course, this did not help me at all in my efforts to go back to sleep and so I got up again and opened the bathroom door.  Suki emerged with her head and tail held high with nary a glance in my direction.  Thankfully, she did settle down after this and I was able to get some more sleep.  However, when I finally awakened around 5 a.m., there was Suki wearing her placard and silently walking back and forth across the floor. *(The placard is actually a made-up feature -- the first time I have ever used an imaginary gimmick in my accounts of the life of Suki.)

Fortunately, my sister and her husband flew up this morning for a one-day visit and when we returned to my place after lunch, Suki had forsaken her placard and was sleeping.  When my visitors put their travelling bags on the floor, Suki began her sniffing routine which kept her extremely busy until time for them to return to the airport.  Now she seems exhausted and appears to have settled in for a long nap. Perhaps I should awaken her in a couple of hours though in an effort to keep her from getting too much sleep before bedtime!

As for Sallie, I have been busy as usual with many things.  I am truly a Martha rather than a Mary most of the time, I fear.  I have always liked picturing myself as a contemplative, but, sadly, the truth is just the opposite.

The drawing below is one I had first drawn about 5 years ago now.  At that time it was really too big a task after my short period of learning how to draw on the computer.  When I was asked recently to re-do it, I felt much more confident and was able to create something that I think looks much better than my first try.  In fact, this time, the company, Toronto the Better, wanted the picture put on a postcard with a special message to be used in a mass mailing. 

I don't know if you are familiar with the directory these people put out online, but it is well worth taking a look at it.  All the businesses listed in their directory are supposed to be socially conscious and environmentally aware.  You may want to consider taking a look there next time you are searching for a company that can supply you with a particular product.

Art work re-done recently for Toronto the Better by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

As I mentioned when talking about Suki, my sister, Janet, and her husband, Tom, came to visit me today for the day.  We had a wonderful lunch and then an all too brief visit after lunch until it was time for them to return to the airport and make their way back to Tennessee.  I always wish they could stay longer, but I am so very grateful that they make this effort to come all the way up here for a day just to visit with me.

At any rate, I am now rather tired and I think it is probably time for me to go and take a good rest.  God willing, Suki and I will both sleep well tonight!

May our Blessed Mother and dear St. Joseph, intercede for us.  May the Holy Family lead all families into the joys of totally committed family life.  Dear Holy Family, pray for us all. 

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