Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prayer and Art ~ One Man's View of the Baby Jesus Icon

As I gaze upon the original icon of the Child Jesus, I am drawn to several reflections. The first is from Sister M. Helen Weiser, OSC. She states, “The profound beauty of an icon is gentle. It does not force its way, it does not intrude. It asks for patience without the uneasiness of early acquaintance. It asks for times spent before it in stillness of gazing. More important, it asks the one praying to allow himself to gaze on it. One must yield space within himself to admire the icon and its persistent beauty. An icon is a prayer transferred to art. When exquisite art combines with prayer, it becomes a work of worship and wonder. The art becomes a sacramental. It manifests to us God who came through all signs and symbols with truth.”

The second reflection is from Brother Claude, the artist of this particular icon. When I asked what the icon meant he stated the following, “The view we have of Christ in the icon is that of the Father, God looking down from heaven. It is also the view of St. Joseph as the Child Jesus lies in the manger atop his swaddling clothes. He is about to be tied up in them (a symbol of taking on human flesh). He is God’s “word” in the world…and that is underlined by the scroll in His hand (again tied up parchment ~ flesh). Jesus gazes lovingly on His mother as He mourns the loss of God the Father’s direct presence. Soon He will look to Joseph and be consoled. Will He find the same love and consolation if He looks upon us?”

As I have gazed and prayed for the past 14 years I have been given much in terms of the will of God, love, obedience, humility, poverty, labor, kindness, suffering and charity. The icon lettering reads, JESUS CHRIST – HE WHO IS. Each color in the icon has significance to me. The brown hay has its earth tone color. The blanket which Jesus is about to be wrapped in has red stripes, representing the blood He will give for us, and the white background signifies His purity. The blue ribbon will be used to hold the blanket secure to Jesus. This I feel is for the Blessed Mother Mary who will always help us remain close to Her Son Jesus. The nakedness of Jesus shows us His openness and willingness to love us unconditionally. The clutched right hand on his shoulder reminds us to take up our cross daily and follow Him with peace, trust and love. The scroll in his left hand is wrapped seven times with a string. This I feel is the need to read and follow the Scriptures daily in our lives. The legs are crossed under the child Jesus, reminding us that the steps we take in our “road of life” will always be with Christ if we remain close to the wood of the crib and the wood of the cross.

I have left the head of Christ for the last. The eyes are not looking directly at you. I feel this is important so that we will look to God the Father’s will first. We then look in love and service to our fellow man as Jesus did, before we look at self.

Finally the icon gives us the simple gift of Him, asking us only to know, love and serve Him in this life so that we may have eternal happiness when He calls us to our eternal home. Are you ready for the next step in love and service through surrender, trust and joy in your heart with the support of the cross? ~ Bill Fowler

Blessed is he who possesses Bethlehem in his heart and in whose heart Christ is born daily ~ St. Jerome


Karinann said...

This is a wonderful post and a beautiful icon. I seem to be very drawn to icons lately. I also find it interesting that icons are "written". As this artist says they are prayers translated to art, so I guess their being written makes sense.
Thank you for sharing this.
God Bless!

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Karinann, me too! But I cannot find any Baby Jesus icons. This is an original and was given to my friend by the artist. It is so beautiful.
Thank you for visiting.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Really interesting post! I hope you will have a blessed weekend!

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Thank you Elizabeth. I hope you have a blessed week!!! I haven't been doing so well on blogging and such. The weather has been too nice this week.

Colleen said...

Beautiful post. I too am feeling more attracted to icons than I used to be. This one is so beautiful. Amazing that there are not any more of them. God bless!

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Thanks Colleen, I know I've looked around!