Friday, July 22, 2005

Windows into Heaven

In honor of the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, and in continuing solidarity with the brave people of London, I'd like to share a photo of the beginning of the ikon wall above my desk:

The Proclaimers

(The ikon on the right is of John Donne, priestly poet and the Dean of St. Paul's.)

Both of these ikons have a very special meaning for me. The large-scale originals (by modern ikonographer Robert Lentz) are in a side gallery at my former place of worship, Grace Cathedral, and I was present when the Mary Magdalene ikon was dedicated. (Bishop Barbara Harris was there, and it was pretty exciting stuff.) I would go off during communion or after service and light candles in front of them as prayers. Now that I don't go to Grace very often, I have a little bit of it home with me. (I've been lighting a lot of candles by Donne for the last two weeks.)

I have come a long way from my Methodist childhood, where such things would have been regarded as idolatry. Mary Magdalene and John Donne, who proclaimed Christ Risen with such eloquence, are above my desk encouraging me to open up my lips to the Glory of God; Dante Alighieri stands with his book on the mantel next to the desk; St. Francis watches over the earthly remains of my cat Maya; Santa Marta and San Pascual (patrons of cooks and cleaners), welcome finds on my recent trip to New Mexico, are on the kitchen windowsill; and Guadalupe shimmers in her starry mantle throughout the house. I have quite a number of ikons these days, and while I don't go the full Orthodox monty and kiss/venerate them, I do regard them as both "windows into heaven" and, in a lot of way, wise companions on the journey.

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