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)