I am struck on this day by the how even when feeling somewhat distant and detached from Church, Easter manages to pull me back, immersing me in the eternal passion narrative.
Last week I finished the icons for the chapel at St John’s College. As I have said earlier the process of being so close and immersed at such close quarters with the passion narrative I had felt as though I had been held in a constant state of grief whilst painting these. I had done Easter to death before we even arrived at it!
On Monday evening at evensong I released the icons into the hands of the college. Father Honoré took a blessing service adapted from a Syrian rite where the icons were anointed and blessed with holy water. As I sat in the chapel I was for the first time far enough away from them to really feel the power and impact of them as they were supposed to be viewed, in a church, at home ,in their natural environment.
I wept, not just for the grief of letting go of these icons into others hands, but for the transformation that sat before me.
The pictures you see here of the icons come from the studio where I worked. Hopefully I will have some of them in the chapel to add later.
We have been blessed in Seminary for the last few months to have six brothers from the Melanesian Brotherhood join us and journey with us through Lent and onward through Easter, I had spoken to one of them about icons before, but it was not until the blessing that he really understood what it was I was talking about. I was profoundly moved at the end of the service to have him hold my hand as we looked at the icon and later receive a request to create an icon of his 6 brothers who were martyred in Melanesia several years ago. A previous icon had been painted of the brothers but it sits in Westminster Cathedral far away from the brothers. I was, and indeed remain, deeply touched and in awe of the task of creating an icon where the figures are of those in living memory.
St John’s College continues to be a place of growth and wonderful challenge. The mix of cultures beautifully articulated in a gathering last night. Here a group of Pakeha, Maori, Fijian Melanesia and English students gathered with the Melanesian Brothers to watch a DVD of a passion play that they performed. So we watched a Melanesian passion play, performed in England, watched in New Zealand.
After, we gathered for Tenebrae before stepping out into the night with the moon bright above us.
Blessed be to you all this Easter