Saturday, August 19, 2006

known by sight

It's become something of a cliche, but I think we really do learn some profound lessons from children. Without any intentional instruction or prompting, Ian quickly learned to recognize Jesus in icons and other pictures. (As an adult, anyway. I did have to explain little Jesus to him.) He also made an intuitive connection between Orthodox icons and church, even though by far his experience has been in relatively bare-walled Evangelical churches. I was once reading Fr. Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, which in the paperback edition has a rendition of the icon of Christ not made by human hands on the cover. He saw the cover and called it a "church book." Yesterday, I was working on the computer, and he got up to see what I was doing. He saw an icon of Christ healing the blind man and said, "I like pictures of Jesus." (I don't think I convinced him that the blind man was sick, rather than hiding.) Today, my copy of Hymns of Paradise, by Fr. Apostolos Hill, arrived in the mail. There was a fragment of an icon inside the cover, and again, he identified it with church. "Remember when we went to the quiet church?" he asked. Yeah, it's been too long since he went along with me.

This recognition is all the more remarkable, since the only icons we keep in the house are either part of book or CD designs, or a small diptych that I get out when I pray on my own or on the rare occasions that I pray with him before bed. He expects it whenever I put him to bed and always looks for Jesus if I don't get it out right away. Like most Evangelicals, my wife doesn't particularly care for icons, so we don't hang any on the walls. I settle for using them to decorate my computer desktop and recently put up a little icon corner at work. I'm glad that, in spite of their sparse presence in his life, he knows Orthodoxy by sight. I can't recall him ever making such visual associations with anything Evangelical. Not exactly surprising, but meaningful nonetheless.

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