Tuesday, September 14, 2010

carrying one another's burdens

On an email list for Anglican Women, one of our members recently had surgery. One of the things she shared with us is that she had trouble believing that she had cancer. It occurred to me that if she struggled to believe it,to convince herself, she divert energy from healing to worry.

My response to her was "How about if we believe it for you? That way you don't have to think about it and just concentrate on recovery from the surgery. Our prayers for you continue unabated, beloved sister."

My response was based on something I read in Charles Williams' novel, Descent Into Hell. In it a woman is terrified of meeting her doppelganger which she had actually spied once or twice. She shared this fear with a male character who immediately, as her brother in Christ, offered to carry her fear for her. That way she needn't be burdened by it. The idea is that we Christians can carry for each other that which prevents us from doing God's will. In the novel, it was a particular fear that was being carried by someone other than the fearful woman who was then, with a free mind and a glad heart, able to do what she had to do. When she did meet the doppelganger it was a positive experience. All because someone else was carrying that which weighed her down.

I thought we of this list could carry our sister's non-belief for her, leaving her free to get on with the healing. Her own belief that she has cancer can wait a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we will believe it for her, devote our prayers to her and she will be free to get on with healing from this surgery.

On a wider scale there is a way in which this applies to all of us. We know that a new member is anxious about certain conversations. We can carry her anxiety for her as she thinks through the content of the conversations she will have. Members of the list have, maybe without knowing it, been carrying my anxiety over my mother and I trust you are now carrying my grief for my friend, Doug dying of brain cancer, which frees me to be his friend as I have always been instead of a grieving friend looking to him for comfort while he should be busy preparing to see Jesus face to face.

Our anxieties, griefs, fears, worries get in the way of our doings. But we are only human, so of course we will have anxieties, fears and griefs. But one of the many miracles of the Body of Christ is that we can, if we will, carry the anxieties, fears and griefs of others while others carry our anxieties, griefs and fears. The burdens of another are much lighter than our own and the result is that we are all better able to go about doing God's will. Which is to love Him with everything we are and have, to love our neighbors as ourselves, feeding the hungery, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, providing for those who are unable at the moment to provide for themselves, preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations.

I hope this make some sense.

May the Holy Spirit dance in our hearts!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Thoughts on Iconography

In one of the many books I've read about icons and iconography there was this statement: Icons must never be written for money.

I've mused over this for some time and had several thoughts... icons are theology... the Word of God... the Holy Spirit uses the iconographer to create the icon and so on. Since writing an icon is an act of worship and devotion, how could it ever be written for money.

For me personally the idea that the Holy Spirit is actually the artist is crucial to me. I can't paint. I've messed about with paints for years and never achieved anything. But for some reason the Holy Spirit has chosen me to be an iconographer. As a result, working on an icon is for me a meditation, prayer, part of my spiritual life as large a part as the Daily Offices. I listen to Ancient Faith Radio as I work so many of my senses are attuned to the holiness of the work.

Because my church has invested in my training and because as a nun I live under a vow of poverty, I refuse payment for the icons. Payment for any icon I write is paid to my church which then uses the funds for missionary outreach.

Sometimes I think my icons are clownish or cartoonish but people love them. I am then grateful that I think they are clownish or cartoonish because that keeps me humble and increases my reliance upon the Holy Spirit. I don't think I ever want to think myself good at it. I want them always to be the work of the Holy Spirit and for me to continue to be a tool such as the brush, palette, board and paint are also tools.

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