Thursday, November 14, 2013

One Rung at a Time

I don't know whatever possessed me to think that painting the icon of the "Ladder of Divine Ascent" would be smooth sailing spiritually. It's been a long, hard slog just getting the paint on the board and I find myself stepping (metaphorically)onto and then off the first rung of the ladder. There was a long period this fall when I didn't seem to be making any progress at all, because the icon was in that maddeningly inchoate stage in which everything is half-finished and unformed. It is that stage in the process when the initial clairity and precision of the original drawing has yet to reappear in the painting. At that stage it just looks indistinct, dark and muddy.
I become impatient and discouraged because I want the skip the uncertainty of those intermediate stages. In painting, in my life, how often I am tempted to abandon the divine ladder in the hope that I can jump aboard a divine elevator.
But just as I can't give into discouragement at the slow pace of opening up the icon, I can't allow myself to get discouraged avout being a work in progress in the spiritual life either. God is working to open me up, to fill me with the clarity and beauty of his holiness.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sharpening The Tools

Its been over a month since I last posted a message. For a variety of reasons it was difficult during the month of October to find the recollection necessary to write.
But yesterday afternoon while I was sharpening my woodcut tools, I thought about the way in which the tools of the spiritual life, get dull and need to be honed and sharpened. Some of the carving tools I was sharpening only needed to be honed to cut properly. Others were dull from long years of use, which required sharpening them with a whetstone. But there were a few that were (I'm ashamed to admit) so neglected and rusty that I needed to grind out the damaged sections of the blade and put an entirely new edge on the tool.
So I'm inspecting the condition of what St.Benedict speaks of as the "tools of the spiritual life." In the Latin of the Holy Rule, he employs the word used for iron tools -- shovels, hoes, chisels and knives. Which require constant care to keep them sharp and clean of rust. I think in the spiritual life, keeping the tools clean and begins and ends with the daily practice of charity. That is, I think, the purpose of the spiritual life, to become more and more an instrument of the charity of God, who is Love.
But at the end of the day, just as a tools needs to be cleaned, sharpened and put away, in readiness for the next day's work, there is the need, the necessity, really, for recollection. Without recollection, without solitude, silence, reflection and prayer, at least for me, the tools of the spiritual life get dull and rusty. It is easy for me to somehow see recollection as something to engage in when I have the leisure time for it, when in fact, it is a daily discipline that I neglect at my own peril.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Natural Icons

Today is the last day of summer -- fall officially begins tomorrow with the equinox, but summer ended last week in Douglas when it began to rain (so far, without letup). My studio has a metal roof so that the drimbeat of rain is a constant rhythm when I am out there.
I am grateful for that reminder of the natural world when I pray and work there (grateful as I am to be in a dry and warm studio!). For the same reason I keep objects like rocks and shells and fossils in my little prayer corner, alongside the icons and prayerbooks. I like to keep before me a visible reminder of the infinitely varied, intricate and ancient order of creation ( a kind of natural icon) A densely black piece of shale picked up on the rocky beach, which may be 300 million years old helps me to remember and appreciate the immensity of geological time, measured in millions of years and my own, our own brief time in life, measured in decades, days and minutes.
God is beyond and behind time, yet i marvel that God invites me, invites us, to participate in his own eternal life (which is beyond comprehension) except with a loving, grateful heart, which, he generously provides and offers us.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Te Deum Laudamus

Every Sunday morning I conclude Morning Prayer with the Te Deum, the Western Church's great chant hymn of praise and thanksgiving. The title is taken from the first line, 'Te Deum laudamus', which means, 'We praise You, O God' . The Te Deum is supposed to be the response to the proclamation of the gospel at Vigils (aka the Office of Readings) but I found that while I often don't have time to pray this office, I do have time to sing the Te Deum at the end of Morning Prayer, so that is what I do.

I was getting ready to begin singing the Te Deum this morning when I realized that I had a lot to praise God for this morning. Only a week ago it appeared inevitable that the United States governmnet would launch an attack (or a series of attacks) on Syria, with the risk of escalating the already brutal and intolerable conflict there. Just a week ago we were on our knees storming heaven with prayers for peace, asking our good Lord for a miracle.
Being in the midst of events, it is impossible to know with certainty, but yesterday's diplomatic agreement to begin the process of identifying, securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons, looks a lot like a miracle to me. Or, if not strictly miraculous, in the sense of the waters parting, loaves and fishes multiplying, the dead being raised, the weeks events appear to be the answer to our prayers, a miracle of grace for which I am grateful.

I know it's too early for THE Te Deum: the war in Syria hasn't ended after all, an estimated six million Syrians are internal or external refugees and a cease-fire leading to a negotiated settlement is still a long way off.
But I think it is also important to rejoice and to thank God at every step along the way, including for this answer to prayer. So my Te Deum this morning, sung each Sunday in praise of the Lord's victory over sin and death in his sacing death and life-giving resurrection, was in thanksgiving for this amazing turn of events.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lost in a Dark Wood

Medieval and Renaissance artists loved to paint and sculpt  the images of philosophers and poets like Aristotle and Virgil. They were pagans but Christians believed that inspired by the Holy Spirit, they revealed, in a limited, natural way, Christ and the gospel. It was Virgil, after all, who guided Dante, 'lost in a dark wood' up the steep mountain of repentance in the Purgatorio, until, at the very gates of paradise, the poet had to turn back and return to the first circle of hell.

Yes, I know, Dr. Salvador Allende was a Marxist, albeit one who was democratically elected. He had his faults and failings, not the least of which was appointing Augusto Pinochet head of the armed forces in the forlorn hope that Pinochet could be trusted to defend democracy instead of destroying it. But he had his virtues too. Allende's very first act when he assumed power in 1970 was not to arrest all of his political opponents but to sign an executive order insuring that the poor kids who lived in the slums got a glass of milk each day to strengthen their bones and teeth. For him the larger issues of the Cold War were obscured by the tin and cardboard shacks where so many of his fellow citizens were forced to live.

Allende was the first of thousands to be killed in the coup that overthrew his government on September 11th, 1973, forty years ago today.

Marxism is rightly discredited: how can people be forced into paradise? But from the confines of the dark woods of a world where half of the people in it struggle to live on less than $2 a day, there are far worse guides than a doctor who became president of his country to give milk to poor children.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seeing and Hearing

Pope Francis
I wonder if the most significant and memorable event of the Year of Faith (which draws to a close on November 24th ), might have been the day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the Middle East this past Saturday.  With only a week’s notice, Pope Francis directed the entire Church (all 1.2 billion of us), to pray for peaceful and non-violent resolution of the civil war in Syria, which has already claimed 100,000 lives and forced an estimated 2 million refugees to flee the country. 

In calling for this day of prayer and fasting, Pope Francis condemned the use of chemical weapons and their possession, cautioned against any escalation of the violence or widening of the war and called for a ceasefire and urged all parties to seek a political and not a military solution to the crisis. 
None of which is unexpected coming from the Vatican.  The Holy See (and by extension, the Catholic Church) can be relied upon to always recommend  peaceful rather than a violent solutions to international conflicts and disputes.    
But in his call to prayer and fasting, Pope Francis spoke of the moral duty of every person of good will to pursue peace.  In his announcement, he wrote:

“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursing peace.  I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian or other confessions, as well as to the followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity.”

He went onto say: “ I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict that builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.  May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.”

But then, building on the foundation of a shared humanity and our ability using reason to arrive at natural truth (in this case, that we bound as human beings to pursue peace in every situation, he became a powerful evangelist.

Into the despair and hopelessness of the present war in Syria, at a time when the threat of wider, even more violent and intractable war threatens, the Holy Father proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer.  Why?  Because, as he wrotes, “ Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace.” 

He wanted us as a Church, as disciples and witnesses of Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the Light of the world, and praying for the intercession of his Mother, the Queen of Peace, to gather publicly in prayer and in a spirit of penance to invoke “God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world.” 


September 7th was a powerful act of witness to Jesus Christ and to the way of life that he calls us to live as his disciples.  On our knees we asked God to convert and to change our hearts and the hearts of all those who have taken up arms and we appealed in prayer for all those in need and for an increase in our own love and care for the poor and the dispossessed of Syria and the Middle East.

 At the same time, by gathering to pray, we were, despite our own frailty and sinfulness, witnesses to the transforming and incandescent love of God, revealed most fully and perfectly in the Person of Jesus, which illumines the darkness of sin, suffering and death.  His light, his truth, his peace and his love, embodied and incarnated in the earthen vessels of Christians and all those who seek dialogue, reconciliation and peace, are a shining beacon of hope for those who are hopeless and cynical and in despair.

 Let us entrust ourselves and each other to our loving God, for whom nothing is impossible, and may the peaceful witness of our lives invite all men and women to faith in Christ, our Savior and our Hope.


Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for Syria, pray for us.

 (The detail of the face of Christ is from an icon by the 20th century Russian iconographer, Leonid Ouspenski.  The icon of Mary is the Syrian icon of Our Lady of Saidnaya.)








Saturday, September 7, 2013

Only Love is Creative

So much of iconpainting is (literally) waiting for paint (or bole or varnish) to dry. Which is what I spent most of last evening doing as I completed the icon of Our Lady Queen of Peace. Just in time to put out for veneration at the Cathedral in Juneau for tomorrow's Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in Syria and the Middle East.

It's impossible to grasp exactly all that is at stake in our President's apparent decision to intervene in the Syrian civil war or to predict what sort of new world we may all be living a week or a month or a year from now. But the necessity to ask the Lord to " convert the hearts of all who have taken up arms" seems more urgent than ever.
The truth is, to quote (inexactly) Pope Francis, there are no violent solutions. Violence, as we have seen at every turn in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and now Syria, begets suspicion, fear, distrust, wrath, hatred, a desire for revenge and more violence.
A mother and a child. Powerless against the powerful and their armies and weapons. So true, yet, their embrace is both a sign and the embodied reality of love. About which another Pope, Blessed John Paul II famously said: ' Only love is creative.'
The love of this Mother and Holy Child is the lifegiving love of the Blessed Trinity that holds humanity, our world and the entire cosmos in being. Jesus, God's love Incarnate, depicted in the icon as a weak and vulnerable child tenderly embracing his loving mother, on the Cross overcame forever the powers of sin and death.
Tomorrow we will unite ourselves in prayer and fasting to the Divine Love, which overthrows the powerful, disarms the violent and raises up the lowly. May God strengthen us to persevere in prayer for the beloved people of Syria.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finishing Touches

Putting the finishing touches on an icon is usually the most difficult stage, spiritually, of the entire process. At least it is for me. Which is not what one would expect, as this is the point at which the icon actually begins to come together. This should be an occasion of satisfaction and accomplishment. But not for me.
Just the opposite. It's at this juncture that I find myself dwelling on the weight of my sins and begin to feel paralyzed by my undeniable inadequacies and limitations (which seem insurmountable.) It's just a squalid mix of fear and pride. Fortunately, as soon as I feel this coming on, I know enough now to put down the brush and pick up the prayerbook.
Tonight, when I felt myself being pulled down into that confusing place I was grateful to discover that the theme of the psalms and reading for Evening Prayer were all about humility. Although the important thing is simply to pray -- Lord have mercy is just fine -- the psalms tonight reminded me to trust in God's faithful love and leave it at that.
So I went back to finishing the icon. I completed the faces of Mary and Jesus and painted-in the inscription that translates "Our Lady Queen of Peace". (Thank you to Deacon Greg Kandra who supplied me with the Arabic text!)
Tomorrow I hope to complete the other inscriptions and the borders. I hope to be able to have the icon available at the Cathedral in Juneau for the Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for Syria, pray for us!

Monday, September 2, 2013

O Savior, Save Us!

I'm close to completing the Korsun Mother of God that I've been working on since the beginning of August.
Aid to the Church in Need began a week of prayer for Syria that began on August 30th. The prayer they have proposed was my prayer today as I painted the faces of the icon of Jesus and his Mother this day.
Prayer and Intercession for Peace in Syria
God of compassion hear the cries of the people of Syria. Comfort those who suffer violence. Console those who mourn the dead. Give strength to Syria's neighboring countries to welcome the refugees. Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms and protect those who are committed to peace.
Let us pray.
God of hope, inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with their enemies. Inflame the Universal Church with compassion for the people of Syria and give us hope for a future built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Light of the world. Amen.

Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, O Savior, save us!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mary, Queen of Peace, Pray for Us!

Pope Francis this morning (Rome time) spoke of his deep distress at the escalating violence (especially the alleged use of nerve agents by the Syrian govenment to kill hundreds and possibly thousands of innocent civilians ). He argued for the urgency of a negotiated settlement to the conflict and for outside nations to avoid intervening in the civil war. He called on all Catholics to undertake a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday, September 7th for peace in Syria and the Middle East, noting that this day is the eve of the feast of the birth of Mary, the Mother of God, the Queen of Peace.
He invited Christians of all denominations, as well as believers of other faiths to fast and pray for peace in Syria on that day as well. I welcome his call to be in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters subject to the scourge of war and its attendent disasters, to pray for them and to pray for peace.
Juneau, Alaska is a world away from Syria and the Middle East, but this afternoon following Mass at the Shrine of St.Therese, this group of Armenian pilgrims from California gathered in the chapel to sing the Lord's Prayer and to pray, which they did in the beautiful chant of the Armenian liturgy. They had heard of the Holy Father's call for prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and they shared with us that some of them were originally from Syria (where there are Armenian communities) or had family members living in Syria. Afterwards, they invited our Bishop, Edward Burns and me to join them for a group photo.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have been with these pilgrims as they prayed the prayer Jesus taught us. We are in the midst of a deepening crisis for all of the people of the Middle East but especially for the ancient Christian communities there who are faced with grave threats to their continued survival in their countries of origin.
May our prayers be joined to theirs and to those of all people of faith and goodwill to deliver the people of Syria and the region from the evil of war.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Friday, August 30, 2013

That Fountain, Filling, Running, Although It Is The Night.

The sad news this morning of the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

I hadn't thought about it quite this way until this morning but I've been a reader of his for decades.  His voice has been a  steady presence in my life and I'm grateful for his writing and the witness of it, especially during the 'Troubles' in the north of Ireland.  

The eleventh canto from his 1984 poem "Station Island" is one of my favorite poems by him.  For me, it is a poetic meditation not only on the poetry of St. John of the Cross but on the fathomless depths of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, that overflowing wellspring of life and love. 

As if the prisms of the kaleidoscope
I plunged once in a butt of muddied water
surfaced like a marvelous lightship
and out of its silted crystals a monk's face
that had spoken years ago from behind a grille
spoke again about the need and chance
to salvage everything, to re-envisage
the zenith and glimpsed jewels of any gift
mistakenly abased...
What came to nothing could always be replenished.
'Read poems as prayers,' he said, 'and for your penance
translate me something by Juan de la Cruz.'
Now his sandalled passage stirred me to this:
How well I know that fountain, filling, running,
although it is the night.
That eternal fountain, hidden away,
I know its haven and its secrecy
although it is the night.
But not its source because it does not have one,
which is all sources' source and origin
although it is the night.
No other thing can be so beautiful.
Here the earth and heaven drink their fill
although it is the night.
So pellucid it never can be muddied,
and I know that all light radiates from it
although it is the night.
I know no sounding-line can find its bottom,
nobody ford or plumb its deepest fathom
although it is the night.
And its current so in flood it overspills
to water hell and heaven and all peoples
although it is the night.
And the current that is generated there
as far as it wills to, it can flow that far
although it is the night.
And from these two a third current proceeds
which neither of these two, I know, precedes
although it is the night.
Here it calling out to every creature.
And they drink these waters, although it is dark here
because it is the night.
I am repining for this living fountain.
Within this bread of life I see it plain
although it is the night.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Other Remedy

Of course, as I already knew yesterday, fortuna had really nothing to do with the setback I experienced with the halo of the icon of Christ. As is the case, inevitably, also in the spiritual life, it wasn't bad luck that was my problem but that I cut a few corners along the way.
So it was back to the basics. I ground the bole, first in water until it was smooth, then added the glue and ground it a second time.

I used a big brush --the biggest brush I could manage-- to float the bole on the icon. I don't know why exactly I held back earlier and applied it with a smaller brush, but I did and it made a difference. So the first layer of bole is back on the board and we'll see how it all turns out.
I keep a little collection of quotations by St.Teresa of Avila next to my prayer corner in the studio, open to this admonition of her's. It reminds me of my friend, the newly departed servant of God, Sr.Rosemary, who chose the quotations and designed each page with her friend Sr.Mary Grace at the Carmel of Terre Haute, Indiana.
When I look at her calligraphy I am reminded of her beautiful spirit. But I'm encouraged both by the words of St.Teresa and by my friend's example of perseverance in prayer and the hidden life of Carmel, not to give up on the 'one thing necessary', which is always communion with Christ in prayer.
My temptation in prayer which I readily admit to succumbing to more often than I like to admit, is to cut corners, to rush, to let my mind wander and then get so discouraged that I give up altogether.
So in the life of prayer, as in the work in the studio, there's no other remedy but begin again.

Wheel of Fortune

The ancients as well as medieval people never seemed to tire of meditating on the idea of the "rota fortunae" literally, the "wheel of fortune" as a reminder of the transitory nature of worldly success. Fate or luck, personified as the goddess Fortuna, was depicted turning the crank on a large wheel. Seated on the wheel were various people either ascending to the top of the wheel or descending to the bottom.
In our example of the "Rota Fortunae", (courtesy of a regal looking fellow wearing a crown is seated at the top. He is holding the symbols of earthy power. But his crowned companion to is right is already headed downward, his neighbor has lost his crown and his regal attire and the poor unfortunate on the bottom is falling off the wheel entirely!

But to his left, clinging to the wheel with all his might, another man is being slowly raised up and the man ahead of him reaches for the prize.

I too managed to take a ride this evening on the "Rota Fortunae" . Of course, my turn on the wheel involved (what else?) gilding. The wheel started turning as I began carefully applying gold leaf to the bole of the halo of the icon of Christ that I have been hard at work on for the past couple of days.

After over an hour of painstaking work, I applied the final piece of gold leaf. There I was, the fellow reaching expectantly for the crown and orb, which appeared to be just within reach. After waiting for the requisite length of time , I began gently burnishing the gilding. That was when Bella Fortuna gave the wheel a turn -- the halo wouldn't burnish! And then she gave it another turn -- each stroke of the burnisher was scraping off the gold leaf!

Something, it soon became evident, was wrong with the bole, which meant that it had to come off. All of it, which involved soaking the bole, scraping it all away and then cleaning off the muddy red clay mess smeared on the icon.

In the end not too much the worse for wear.

So I'm ready to climb back on the wheel. I plan on hanging on tight and hoping that I'm on the upswing as I get ready to gild that halo again.

Is it my imagination, or does Fortuna have a slight smile? And isn't she supposed to be blindfolded?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Within a World Torn By Grief

I've been slowly re-reading "Hidden and Triumphant:The Underground Struggle to Save Russian Iconography by the Russian scholar Irina Yazykova. A couple of years ago my friend Bob Hurd sent it to me and I immediately and eagerly read through it. I was particularly interested in learning more about the rediscovery of the icon in the 20th century.
In returning to it again, for a more reflective re-reading, I was struck by this sentence by Ms.Yazykova concluding the introductory chapter:
"We will explore together the icon's path of development within contemporary culture-- a culture so often referred to as post-moder, post totalitarian, and post Christian-- and see that icons continue to be windows onto eternity, and, within a world torn by grief, the constant testimony to divine joy and the inexhaustibility of hope."

We are confronted daily with "a world torn by grief". During recent days, of course, there are the appalling reports from Syria of hundreds (possibly thousands) of Syrian civilians killed and wounded by nerve agents, presumably at the hands of the Syrian government. And the flight of tens of thousands of refugees from Syria to Iraqi Kurdistan (only the most recent wave of refugees trying to escape the murderous violence of the civil war in their country)

Each person who has been killed or wounded there, or who has been forced to flee, is not a statistic but infinitely precious to our loving Creator, the Father of us all, and thus, our brothers and sisters. That they are Sunni or Shia, Christian, Alawite or Druze adds or subtracts nothing from their human dignity, made as they are, in the image and likeness of God. Each of them is a living icon, a witness, even in their suffering and torment, to the compassion, goodness and love of God.
Far removed, except in the solidarity of prayer from so much destruction and sorrow, It is good to be reminded as an iconpainter of my vocation to work in the service of the icon, the silent but eloquent witness to the One who is Beauty, Truth and Goodness.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ora et Labora (continued)

Today and yesterday were all about gilding and prayer. Yesterday I applied gold leaf to the haloes of the icon of the Mother of God and Jesus which I am working on.
The red bole on the halo is a mixture of clay and glue. First, I breathe on the bole. The warmth and moisture of my breath makes the bole become sticky for just a few moments (perhaps 10-15 seconds).

Then I quickly press the gold leaf onto the bole and gently rub on the back of the paper that the gold is attached to.
It's a time consuming process, because in order to be able to burnish (or polish) the gold leaf, I have to gild the halo not once but twice.
It took me most of yesterday to gild the haloes and then to begin burnishing them.

Burnishing the gold also takes time - there is no rushing the process. If everything goes right, burnishing is simplicity itself. Using an agate burnisher (a completely smooth agate set in a wooden handle), you rub the gilded surface with the agate until it begins to shine. Piece of cake! Unless something goes wrong. Which always seems to happen. There may be tiny holes in the gilding or the burnisher lifts up some of the gold or there is one spot that just doesn't want to shine, no matter how much you burnish it. Which usually means making corrections (faulting) to the gilding. but in the end it is worth it.

These last few days have also been a time of prayer. I'm grateful that my studio is also my oratory.

My urgent prayer of supplication has been for Egyptian Muslims and Christians in the aftermath of the coup that toppled the government of Muhammed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was elected President of the country a year ago. This has led to demonstrations against the new government by Morsi supporters, demonstrations that that army and security forces have fired upon, killing hundreds of protesters in at least four separate incidents that can only be charactorized as massacres.

In addition to violence between pro and anti-Morsi rioters in various Egyptian cities and towns, extremist elements in the Muslim community appear to be scape-goating the Christian minority around the country and mobs have looted and burned over 60 churches and church related buildings in the past week.
Praying evening prayer tonight was for the feast of St.Bernard of Clairvaux, the great eleventh century reformer and Doctor of the Church (called the Doctor mellifluus, the Honey-sweet Doctor for his love of the word of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary) yet preached the catastrophic Second Crusade.
The reading, from the Letter of St. James, gives me much to ponder.
"Wisdom from above is first of all innocent. It is also peaceable, lenient, docile, rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits, impartial and sincere. The harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace."
May it be so, in our hearts and in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Fridays

I had planned to spend this coming week in the studio with my friend Sharon, who is also an iconography student of mine. however, she is not coming because a dear friend of hers, who was in the last stage of a terminal illness took a turn for turn for the worse and died this past Wednesday. Understandably she decided to cancel her trip to Juneau and remain with her family and friends. This is a sad time for her.

Despite this change in Sharon's plans I will be in the studio next week, barring any developments at the diocese or parish that require my attention.

I hope to complete two icons -- the Korsun Mother of God and a second icon of Jesus during this coming week. They are intended for use at the Cathedral.

My colleague Barry, at the diocese had a great idea a while back which he shared with me. On the first friday of each month the art galleries and museums in Juneau have opening receptions for exhibits. they usually go from 4:00-7:00pm. what if, he wondered, we offered a different sort of art experience at the Cathedral: the opportunity to spend some quiet time in front of an icon. A time for quiet reflection and prayer with an icon after the exhibit openings were over.

That seemed like an inspired idea to me and I volunteered to provide the icons of Christ and of the Korsun Mother of God. My thinking is that with two we'll be able to alternate them each month.


This afternoon I began work on the cartoon for the icon of Christ. I'll be working on it and the Korsun Mother of God this coming week. Sharon and her friend Karen and her family will continue to be in my prayers.