So this letter was written just after the one I shared with you in my last post and also written in response to my friend’s response to it. This one gets “a little out there,” my claim to fame=).
“Yes, you are right mysticism is definitely not the correct word for what we are talking about. I was thinking along the lines of intuition, gut feelings, and dreams. I think God gives you these things and people either don’t trust God or don’t trust themselves to acknowledge these things or they simply don’t hear them because they have their iPod in! I think I meant that the world is so deep, so rich, and that in some ways things are more than they seem. God or His angels are always about waiting, shining, watching, protecting, leading. There is more going on than we notice- like spiritual warfare. And it’s the difference between gasping for a single, predictable, breath, or taking long, deliberate inhales- breathing in richly every blessing and exhaling the demons.
I’ve gone crazy! Finally! Maybe I’ll become a mad artist after all. Or a farmer. I have a great interest in farming and connecting with the land and purity and authenticity now. So maybe I’ll start with a garden and a brushstroke.
I started reading a book on icons about two years ago. Never finished it, but what I read was interesting. It was talking about how to approach the icons and speak to them and let their painted eyes bore into your soul, er……..something like that. Orthodox mysticism is beautiful in its own right, the churches, the incense. But there is something trapped inside of those gilded, Greek-cross walls that is less than soothing to the soul. I’m not sure I believe it is evil but more of a great collective sadness. That somehow those mysteriously painted eyes, gold alters, and seductive smoke spirals that waft from swinging brass incense holders all seem like they have been trying to conceal some great secret for so long that the truth they once possibly protected has vaporized and traveled to a less severe environment. The icons want to cry out to the people and tell them that God is no longer there but they cannot shed a single tear because, they are, after all wood and resin and pigment.
These elemental treasures remain, inanimate, brooding in their own splendor and wishing they could remember the only name that could bring them true redemption. If they could just recall the name of Jesus it would set their golden, jewel-studded cells into flames and bring them back to dust and ash. Maybe then their purged remains could float to Heaven on the breath of God that careens over, under, and through His mighty creation where His Spirit is today, as it has always been, unbound by polished rock and sculpted metal. Wild and essentially free. The Most High God is continually moving throughout time and place in pursuit of liberating His children from certain and eternal death.
Sorry, you know I get caught up in expressing things sometimes. What I meant by the tangent was that maybe at sometime in history orthodoxy held some semblance of purity. But, knowing what I know about God, I don’t see Him abiding in a place of such secrecy or just plain confusion. I see Him as man-Jesus_ walking through fields and gardens-speaking to men-loving people. I see Him today in the world as an all- powerful force and being that is timeless enough and pertinent enough to reach you wherever you are. Whether he woos you into conversation with Him as you smell fresh cut grass on a morning jog or comforts you as you silently sing Him praises under fluorescent supermarket lights.
Okay- Have no idea what I as talking about or if it will still ring true tomorrow. Fun though.
I love finding this stuff! So, the reason I became interested in icons in the first place and even attempted reading a book on them was because of the brief experiences I had in Belarus seeing real people interact with these beautiful, strange, often solemn little paintings of Christ and various saints. I was fascinated by the familiarity I saw people approach these icons with and also saddened by the needful fervor with which they were addressed. Add in the art history classes/interest and there’s your explanation.
Would love to hear some creative and inspired feedback on this one or the previous=)