This series of blogs are responses from congregation members to drawings created by one of our children Enrique and his mother Katie. One Sunday in worship during the children’s conversation, we created a list of names for God. The congregation shared the names they use for God. As our worship continued, Enrique and his mom created images of how they see and experience these various names of God.
In this blog entry, Trish has responded to the drawing of Beloved. I am grateful for the way in which she brings alive the many layers of Beloved, going deeper and deeper into the Core of the Sacred as Beloved. Thank you, Trish.
You have drawn many beautiful drawings of what you see as The Beloved. I think you have already encountered the Beloved.
Beloved. We don’t use that name very often. Married people, though, often use that term when they are referring to each other. Beloved. Meaning they set each other apart from and are deeper in relationship than other friends. You are also, as you know, Beloved as the child of your parents. You are Beloved by your grandparents. This is a deeper bond formed than friendship, and you know you love your friends. You can call them up and ask them how they’re doing and they do the same to you. You want to stay in touch with them and have a close connection with them.
But the word Beloved goes deeper. You are treasured and cherished, you are the dear one. This is how the Creator of the Universe sees you. Beloved. The same being that thought up rainbows and trees and dogs thought up you. The Beloved wakes up with you, walks with you and dreams with you. As you talk to your mom and dad, so you can talk to the Beloved, for you are one. What you experience, the Beloved experiences and yes, The Beloved adores a good basketball pickup game just as much as you.
To think of the Beloved as close as your heart beat, as close as your breathing in and breathing out, to experience compassion as the Beloved of the Universe experiences it passes all understanding. We know this happens because we have encountered the Beloved when we truly love ourselves and see the Beloved in the mirror with us. Beloved looking at the Beloved.
Pantokrator (Divine Ruler of All)
Submitted by Rita Noe
Having grown up in a fundamentalist Pentecostal church, the word “icon” had never been in my vocabulary. I heard about such things as a rosary and crucifix from my Catholic cousins, but was taught that they were “graven images,” forbidden by God in the Old Testament.
It wasn’t until undergraduate and graduate school, while studying art history, that I heard the word icon, eikon in Greek, referring to visible images depicting heavenly beings.
Following the conversion of Constantine and the establishment of Constantinople as the chief center of Christianity, icons became common, more so in Eastern as opposed to Western Christianity. They were usually created as paintings on panels or as mosaics.
The use of icons in Eastern Orthodox churches passed through several stages of acceptance and rejection. Iconoclasmic episodes saw the destruction of thousands of icons made prior to c. 1000 A.D. Artistic style also followed the roller coaster of severity and emotion, elaboration and simplicity.
My education as an icon appreciator was heightened by a trip to Yugoslavia in 1984, where I visited many Orthodox churches, and an Oasis class held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Albuquerque in 2016. I even have an artist friend in Corrales who paints traditional icons.
When my United Church of Christ congregation voted to share space with St. Francis Episcopal Church last September, I was introduced to many examples of icons throughout the building. Our pastor has introduced several icons to us during February and March, including that of the Black Madonna.
Sometime between January and March, while searching for wood inspirations online, I discovered that a woodworking technique I had seen before has an “official” name—Intarsia. It’s an Italian word for inlaying different colors of wood, much like a mosaic made from clay tiles.
Pastor Jocelyn’s mention of icons caused me to look up my photos from Byzantine cathedrals. I found several of icons, and thought, “Icon, I CAN!”
It took 10 days to plan it out, painstakingly cut the wood pieces with a jeweler’s saw from 1/8” stock, round over all the edges, and fit the pieces as precisely as I could. I glued them onto a backing board made of ¼” Black Lignum, then framed it with ¼” Padauk. Coats of oil and wax finish it with a subtle glow.
The icon represents Jesus the Christ as “Divine Ruler of All,” denoted by the position of His right hand, and the Gospels in His left hand. The woods are Wenge (the starry celestial skies); Yellowheart for the golden halo and book; Canary wood for the hair and facial features; Ebony for the face, neck and hands; walnut for the outer robe; Padauk for the red undergarment. Maple forms the bottom ring and a sash across the shoulder.
It’s interesting to note the hairstyle. Very early Christian images of Jesus had short, frizzy hair. By the time of Constantine, the hairstyle had changed to a middle part with long, flowing curls. All Byzantine icons feature a stylization that became mandatory. I also find it curious that Jesus is holding the Gospels, which were not written until decades after His death. Bound in gold, no less. (Sorry, my occasional irreverence is kicking in.)
I showed the finished product to an atheist friend, and she asked if there is a market for pieces like this. I replied, “This is how I pray.” I commune with the Divine while working with wood. I marvel in the Creator’s beauty of colors and woodgrains. I feel as though I am touching God.
P.S. If the image offends anyone in any way, flip it over. There’s a wonderful mountain landscape on the back.
This series of blogs are responses from congregation members to drawings created by one of our children Enrique and his mother Katie. One Sunday in worship during the children’s conversation we created a list of names for God. The congregation shared the names they use for God. As our worship continued, Enrique and his mom created images of how they see and experience these various names of God.
In this blog entry, Carol has responded to the drawing of God as Constant and Everlasting. I sent her three questions and she has beautifully answered them. I am grateful for the way in which Carol expresses how God is constant in her life. Thank you Carol!
How do you experience God as constant and everlasting?
The whole day I feel as though I am carrying on a constant conversation with God. It’s like having a friend accompanying me throughout the day—someone who cares for me, helps me up when I fall and carries me when I feel that I can’t go on.
How does thinking about God as Constant, challenge, invite you to be in God’s presence?
The very word “constant” means ever-present. For that reason, the name “Constant” enhances my being in God’s presence.
Sometimes the chatter of the world draws me away from the presence of God as “The Constant.” Letting the chatter overcome the awareness of “The enhance Constant”is easy to do. The world is busy, busy, busy. Too busy to have time for God. This is where meditation is helpful. It clears one’s mind of the unnecessary thoughts outside of the presence of God.
It certainly invites me to be in God’s presence. No matter where I am or in what situation, knowing God is there brings me into the awareness of his presence and I know He is “The Constant”
Does thinking about God as Constant and Everlasting bring a challenge, question up for you regarding your faith? If so, what does it bring forth?
I’ve been watching a series on HULU titled Touch. This ten-year-old boy lost his mother in the 911 Twin Towers’ bombing. He’s autistic and has never uttered a single word. His father (played by Kiefer Sutherland) is desperately trying to find a way to communicate with him. The boy has a book with the pages covered with numbers. He sees the whole world in numbers; everything in the world is connected and causes things to happen. It’s really fascinating.
It makes me think of the connectedness of our whole world, and how God is the overseer of it. But we are not God’s puppets. We make choices and they are not always good choices. Maybe this pandemic is something to bring the world together. . . It’s Man that has messed things up, not God. It’s the story of the Bible—again and again we stray. We want control of the world.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.