The western Ukrainian city of Lviv is home to the Lviv School of Iconographers, a collective of women and men who are keeping alive deep-rooted traditions, not by slavishly reproducing past forms but by labouring with the Holy Spirit to birth twenty-first-century descendants.
This icon, titled ‘The Still Point’ is by Ivanka Demchuk. It depicts the infant Jesus taking first steps, released by his father, Joseph, moving towards the embrace of his mother, Mary. The child is held in the watchful encouragement of his parents, in the paradox of letting go and receiving. The Christ does not grasp hold of being one with his father, but takes on our nature, as one who must learn to walk, as one who willingly and joyfully takes human nature upon himself. The one who will call others to come to him, and to go sent out by him, must first make this journey for himself, for he is the pioneer and perfector of our faith.
To walk, to run, to propel ourselves forward requires that we repeatedly throw ourselves off balance, in motion. But at the heart of every step, every stride, the still point, where our most recent step of faith finds its home-coming, its stability, its rest, before embarking on the next step. The calm centre in the eye of the whirling wind, or breath. This is the transcendent moment we are drawn into here.
In the background, that wind blows, free. Tugging at the domestic scene of washing hanging on the line to dry. Scattering the carpenter’s tools from his workbench.
We hold before our God those lives blown by the wind, scattered, asking that they, too, may find the still point held between letting go and being gathered up in the arms of love.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
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