As I write this letter I am all too aware of so many things that I must get done. I know this is a feeling that we all share. There are tasks, and even people, in our life that demand our attention and our energy. There are things that seem so urgent and many other things that we may be aware need attended to, yet we’re not quite sure when circumstances will permit us to see to them.
For the past couple of years I have been blessed by taking time away from daily life. I have, for a few short days each year, travelled across the small stretch of water to the Island of Cumbrae and stayed at the College in Millport. I have, together with others, entered the rhythm of prayer at the Cathedral of the Isles. All of us, like anyone else, are folk with lots to do; yet we withdraw – to pray and reflect and … to create an icon.
Under the gentle tutorship of Tatiana, an icon painter from Romania, we come to let go of the world’s rush and, instead, enter the stillness of the eternal that the process of icon painting offers.
We know we are fortunate, but we also know this is a discipline. It would have, in many ways, been easier simply to heed the loud and insistent demands of the everyday. Instead, like our Lord himself, we are all challenged with the call to withdraw; to be renewed and so be better equipped to meet all that life brings us.
Icons are sometimes called “windows into eternity”. They draw the faithful into the truth that there is much more to life than the here and now. There is that other unchanging and everlasting dimension.
The feast of St Michael and All Angels, celebrated at the end of this month, also reminds us that there is more in life and in death than we could ever have imagined; reminds us that we must strive for love and goodness; for victory ultimately belongs to the eternal Lord of heaven and earth: to God whose name is love.
Yours in the faith,