Icons are religious works of art, most often paintings, that serve as representation, sign or likeness. They signify a subject/object by representing it either concretely or by analogy. The artist (referred to as an iconographer) is said to “write” an icon because it is intended to be visual Scripture. According to iconographer Marek Czarnecki, “It’s a vision of reality that uses art to open the window to heaven.”
Don’t you wish you had some?
Icons pull you toward places of mystery and groundedness, toward the unknown and things deeply, intuitively known. A window to heaven.
You do have some. Want to find them? Ask yourself the following questions:
What tugs at your heart? What ushers you into a powerful, spiritual space? What causes you to catch your breath? What invites you into surprising places of self-knowing, confidence, and strength? What feels bigger than you? What brings tears to your eyes? What can be explained in no way other than activity of God? What cannot be explained at all but still, somehow, offers you rest?
Now, try this: ask yourself these same questions, but replace the word “what” with “who.”
Do you have a great, big list of fabulous answers? Somewhere, within them, are your icons; your windows to heaven. I know: it’s all-too easy to become too busy, too distracted, too focused, and/or too dissociated. And that, among other reasons, is why icons evade, why your vision seems clouded, why the window not only feels closed, but bolted, chained, and blackened, and maybe why God feels far away.
What if the experiences that are most significant to you, most meaningful, most mystical, amazing, and even spiritual, are in fact the ways in which God shows up for you – again and again? Not in representation or as icon, but in reality.
Now, try this: remove the “what if” and the question mark from the sentence above. Mmmmm. Yes: a real God – showing up – for you – in real ways.