What is it that inspires you to pray?
Perhaps it is a specific need or intention for yourself or another. Perhaps it is something that capture your attention such as the face of another, an experience of nature or a piece of music or art. We might refer to such experiences as iconic moments that seemingly reach out to us from beyond. These are moments when we encounter the very presence of God. Perhaps we might call this an invitation from God to meet the Spirit’s invitation to deepen our relationships with God and one another. What we have uncovered here is not passive. But, rather it is the action of engaging in loving relationship with the source of all being.
An iconographer understands this process very well. To experience God reaching from beyond time and space is the process of creating an iconic moment. It is the same for one engaging in the creation of, or “writing,” an icon. The process of writing is an exercise in prayer from the start. The iconographer is attending to the image that is revealing itself simultaneously through and to her. Likewise, this is how prayer functions.
Consider Andrei Rublev’s Trinity icon. (Rublev’s patronal feast was just last week on January 29.) It invites us in to experience the “thin place” where God meets creation. It portrays the mystery of Abraham’s experience of a thin place when he receives three visitors at his Mamre encampment. He serves them a meal. As the meal unfolds, he has the experience of talking directly to God. What is seen are three winged creatures gathered beneath Abraham’s tree around a chalice holding a roast lamb. What Abraham experiences is interaction with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (from left to right). The three are gathered around a chalice holding a roast lamb. In this can be see a Eucharistic image. The Father is garbed in clothing that holds all colors and changes with the light. Seen above the Father is the Father’s house, the beginning of all of life and the destination of life’s journey. The Son with earth colors and sky colors in a band of gold indicates the “government upon his shoulders” and his dual human and divine nature. The Spirit’s garb depicts one who moves within, over and beyond land and water.
Rublev’s Trinity is a hospitable image. The table has an open place that says to all, “Come.” What began as Abraham thinking that he was playing host turned into the Triune God hosting everyone from Abraham to us today as his descendants. So, what is it that inspires us to pray? May it be the same for us, as it was for our ancestor, Abraham.
© Douglas A. Beck, 2017