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.
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.