A large part of my religious upbringing I was Roman Catholic. Ornate stained glass windows, votive candles flickering, and intricate artifacts surrounded me on Sunday mornings. At the time I didn’t appreciate it but as an adult I value beautiful spaces immensely. I think this attraction to beauty partly goes back to my childhood church experiences.
I am a visual person and I have a vivid imagination. When I read Scripture the interactions become colorful in my mind. I serve a congregation that is peppered with professional performers so I will often read Scripture as if I were watching it on Broadway. The text is dramatically full of color.
So you can imagine my fascination with icons. While most of my friends were meditating on Rublev this past Sunday I was meditating on this powerful beauty. I discovered the Icon of Sophia(Kiev) in my sermon preparation as I was focusing on the Proverbs passage. I wish Proverbs came up in the lectionary more often than it does. I find it curious that a book of the Bible that is laced with feminine imaginary is not in the lectionary often. Interesting.
On the icon is depicted the Theotokos, and the Hypostatic Wisdom, the Son of God incarnate of Her. Saint John the Baptist on the right side directs our attention back to Wisdom. There is certainly a Trinitarian motion about this image. Notice Wisdom emblazoned in red against the cool colors of the night sky behind her. Intriguing that the Theotokos and Saint John seem to be outside the night circle while Jesus, above, is not. Wisdom and Jesus face forward while Saint John and Mother Mary face toward wisdom. In this particular image six angels are perched above.
I am not an iconologist but I offer my novice observations as a starting point for your exploration. The Icon of Sophia is glorious. This has caught my attention so much that I am contemplating it as my next tattoo. As the book of Wisdom says in chapter 7 “She is a breath of the power of God, and the radiance of the glory of the Almighty… She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.”
I’m meditating on the breath of the power of God this week for She offers depth, mystery, and insight into the glory of God.