I switched my gaze from the photographs in Heather Sleightholm’s post Jesus in my Kitchen: using icons in the home to the wall of icons in my living room, and I thought of all the other icons scattered throughout our house. These icons have become part of the journey of my faith over the years. Like Heather, I’ve become aware that they can speak to the children among us as well.
The biggest icon in my collection is the most rudimentary, but ranks among my most beloved. It’s one that I created at a week-long icon-writing retreat about a dozen years ago. We began with a drawing which we traced onto the wooden board, then we prayed our way through days and days of slow painting:
The night before the final day, we were instructed to spend time praying and pondering what words to write in the open book: what was Jesus saying to us at this moment in our lives? The words that came to me: “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you.” The last thing I did was to copy those words onto the icon itself.
That is the only “real” icon I’ve ever done, but in the years since I have photocopied that initial drawing and used it over and over at home and in workshops with all ages. People use crayons, markers, watercolors, or pastels to color in the figure of Jesus. Then we ponder and pray about what we need to hear from Jesus right now.
Adults usually choose passages from Scripture (the words I chose for one of these paper icons the day before my mother died was, “I will give you rest”). Teens sometimes quote a short line from a favorite hymn (one I loved: “I will bear you on the breath of dawn”). Younger kids are often more spontaneous, simply wanting help writing, “I love you, Jacob” or “I am always with you.”
Coloring one of these paper icons is a practice I still sometimes do just on my own, a way of helping me be still and meditate on what Jesus might be trying to say to me – and it’s a tender way of helping even the littlest ones know that Jesus speaks to them.
Just what might Jesus be saying to you and your children today? If you want to try this with your kids, you can print the page with the simple line drawing above and enlarge the image, or go here for another similar image.
Have icons been part of your faith journey thus far?