Thursday, 10 March 2011

Waiting for scaffolding - not Godot!

Just read your NOTES FROM AMMAN ... trying to get through a hectic day! My problems here and on London transport hardly compare to yours at the moment. I have never worked in the middle east, but I have worked in places which are just as you describe. You reach a point and then - BANG! Been there and done it too often, I regret. Despite that, what you have written has moved me very much indeed, and it goes to the heart of the matter. It is a control thing. We - I - see my life as about getting control. Problems are about relationships of control as much as anything. And here am I doing the same thing: trying to get a kind of control by the application of analytical reasoning. But you are right, writing an icon is a process of unfolding . It is a gift relationship. It is not about my needs at all. This is not for me, it is a gift, a treasure which will never really belong to me. As I put my thought together I have to keep your advice to the forefront of my mind; So I will repeat them here, to remind me. I think Teilhard would like the idea of it being an evolutionary process. How appropriate! Writing an icon as tâtonnement! is a gift, something that demands of us more than we expect, at least that is true of the icon where we sit as the focus point. An icon is not a possession to meet our needs, as I think we have discovered on this blog. Rather it is a journey into the Truth, a living encounter with Christ. As an iconographer I have to try and respond to inspiration in the deepest and widest sense; the general requirements of the commissioner are important factors, sort of like pillars it must rest on, but in the end it cannot be restricted by those, but must have a life of its own. Think of a play by Shakespeare; he might have had a composition with a certain theme, like politics, the quality of mercy, a comedy about marriage, but the creativity makes it much more than these. In the end a work of spiritual art comes back to the commissioner as a gift, a treasure, something beyond his imagining or perceived needs. Thus a certain provisionality, something of that evolutionary trial and error, is essential.

The icon I finally write for you will, I sincerely hope, last long after you are gone, and your children and many generations to follow. It will live in many lives, in many contexts, speaking the Truth in a living way. Just like those ancient icons in St Catherine's monastery in Sinai, some over 1,500 yrs old, your icon is part of the patrimony of the Church, and as such a gift to you for your blessing, but its destiny lies far beyond the confines of your life, and current needs. In this sense we can truly call it a treasure, priceless, bringing a fragment of eternity into the now.

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