Interior Peace. Interior Calm. Interior Serenity. Saint Theresa of Avila calls it “The Interior Castle”, Thich Nhat Hanh states “Silence is essential.” St. Gregory Palamas mentions “… the grace of the Spirit takes possession of the quiet soul …” and Catherine Doherty simply calls it Poustinia. The search for God–“Be Still and Know That I Am God”–in a deeply personal relationship that we can then extend outward in our outreach toward each other. In Silence, a certain knowing of the soul is gathered. In Silence a method of healing begins within ourselves … and so it begins; an exploration into this deep silence to speak with God while pushing around tiny particles of pigment in developing the icon of the Angel of the Holy Countenance, or the Blessed Hesychia as demonstrated by Vladislav Andrejev this past May. Hesychia means inner stillness, the peace of the heart. In the Orthodox church, hesychia is a complete silence for healing thoughts, the heart and the senses. Theology means speaking about God based on knowledge and experience of Him. Hesychia is the way in which we acquire this spiritual knowledge of God. We live in an age of constant activity, gratification of the senses, uncontrolled imagination and speculations that wear people out! People are searching for inner stillness — hesychia — from the world of the senses and imagination, but also for theology — knowledge of God — to give their lives meaning.
Much has transpired since this last message to our friends; we have been developing a practice of silence and introspection to the point of nearly not communicating with everyone! Becoming hermits within ourselves, we feared this post has had a great separation from our last post as we re-design and re-direct out thoughts and prayers inward so that we may express them outward in this website. Many times I sit down to write of the latest experience in our icon journey together and am pulled away by the demands of working full time as an artist in a different realm. Then I pick up a book and once again am lost to the written word, hungry for the lessons to be learned and put into practice–the “hesychia” of the day! How I long to harness my energy to carve the time to sit in my home studio and work on an icon undisturbed for hours at a time … it is not yet to be this way.
With an unexpected turn of events, I find myself barely able to move about but with enough energy to sit quietly and organize my intimate space to prepare to finish an icon in this moment? Perhaps this is the “poustinia” I have found myself to be in — in the present moment? I have also discovered my studio to be cluttered with so many books–my motto was — “One can never have enough books about icons!” HA! Coming home from a visit to the Museum of Russian Icons in Massachusetts, more books were added more to my collection. The little voices that whisper to me in my dreams have mentioned a few times that it is time to sell off a few books so the latest ones can breathe.
Our next meeting (Saturday, August 31 from 1-6 in the Conference Room at the Shrine of St. Anthony) will be a treasure trove of delightful books I’ve collected over the years. A glass jar will be set out to collect donations for the books which will be used to purchase supplies for general use.
Speaking of the Museum of Russian Icons … the exhibit titled “Wrestling with Angels” is beautifully curated by Lynette Hull. This exhibit features forty-six icons in private collection and is a must see! We had a wonderful time meeting the Russian students, re-connecting with fellow students, coordinators and instructors living in the states and abroad. A lovely evening dinner at the hotel was exquisite and topped with the hours long toasts Vladislav is famous for–rounded out the experience. The hard copy and soft bound book titled “Wrestling with Angels” is a book one must have in their collection and you can order the beautifully appointed special book from Lynette Hull. Beautiful posters are available from the museum directly. The exhibit runs July 19–October 20, 2019 showcasing the work of sixteen iconographers of the Prosopon School. Lectures are given by Lynette Hull and Maureen McCormick through the months of September and October so please visit the museum online to find out more information about the exhibit: www.museumofrussianicons.org
We have invited Lynette to come to the Shrine of St. Anthony to deliver her lecture titled “Why Wrestle Angels? Who’s Asking?” In this lecture, one discovers the unspoken assumptions behind the icons, how the iconographer communicates these assumptions artistically and why they matter. The 45 minute to one hour lecture will be followed by a Q + A with Lynette. There will be a small fee along with refreshments and icon practice after. The date and time in Maryland will be announced as soon as we secure a date with Lynette 🙂
Currently, Lynette’s lecture is September 28th at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA if you are closer to this area. Lynette has studied iconography with Vladislav Andrejev for 15 years and has lectured at Princeton University, Cambridge University, England, Canada and many other universities, seminaries and churches throughout the world. Lynette’s Tedex talks can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JET4H9MhQRw
Tatiana and I had a wonderful icon journey while traveling up to the Museum for the Wrestling with Angels exhibit. We stopped into St. Tikhon’s Monastery for a visit and then traveled up through to Jordanville to the Holy Trinity Monastery where we waked all through the gardens, cemeteries and went to the Liturgy. After Liturgy, we were invited to stay for a delicious lunch with all of the parishioners of Holy Trinity. I felt so much love in this community though I had mistakenly seated m self on the “male side” of the church, no one seemed to care and I nearly converted to Orthodoxy on the spot because the service and the singing was so beautiful and directly arrowed to my heart! I will remain a “Cathodox” though 🙂 We had such a great time visiting these monasteries and exploring the local communities–looking forward to more travels with great company!
Tatiana has icon classes and intensives for beginning, intermediate and advanced students in her beautiful Great Falls, Virginia studio. Please visit her new website www.beautifulcornericons.com and click on the schedule of classes she has available! Truly a gifted iconographer, Tatiana was bestowed the title of Instructor by Vladislav and Olga Andrejev in 2018–we are excited to be a part of her journey and blossoming career!
More events and activities are planned for the remainder of this year and into 2020–please visit our link titled “Guild Meetings for Prayers and Practice” to see the dates and times of currently listed practice and events! We are patiently waiting for phone calls to be returned of lecturers, instructors and professionals from other educational realms that we have contacted to bring forth other creative paths on our collective journey. In the meantime, please meditate on the Fruits of the Spirit — Galatians 5:22-23 Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Generosity. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. God Bless!