Icon Painting Retreat to Learn and Rest

About promoting a workshop, in the beautiful retreat center  called The Jubilee House, In Abingdon, Virginia, July 16 to July 20 2018.  This 5 day workshop introduces the practice and theory of traditional icon painting/writing, offered as a meditation as well as a painting class.

Mary Jane Miller has 20 years of experience as a master iconographer and teacher of ancient iconography using the medium of egg tempera. Icon painting and their images potentially reveal our thoughts about God and ourselves in the world. One main goal of the practice is to cultivate a clear and conscious icon image that becomes a lasting window to the divine.

No artistic experience is necessary for the workshop.

There has been an increased interest in icon painting around the world. Classic Modern Catholic or Orthodox Iconography offers an encouraging new dimensions to spiritual life through study and a new revived focus on faith.

Mary Jane will open the Workshop with a slide lecture being help at William King Art Center Abingdon, Virginia. LECTURE 2PM Touching the Sacred.

Peace be with you, Mary Jane Miller

READ more on the Blog 10 Great Reasons to take an icon ClassWhy Icons?

Announcement to post Iconography Workshop July 16 to July 20 2018

Jubilee House Retreat & Conference Center Contact info: Karen & Bob Vaughan: info@jubileeretreat.org

Website, info and sign up Sacred Icons Retreat

Contact Mary Jane Miller iconographer

web site; http://www.sanmiguelicons.com              http://www.sacrediconretreat.com


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Being Old is like Being Pregnant

The Pregnancy

Happy lovers have plenty of sex and then one day Bamm, the doctor tells you you’re with child. We spend the next 8 months thinking about change, a lot of it. Good thing we don’t have sex and the next day produce a five year old running around and talking. The transition would be too much to bear. We have 9 months to prepare for a baby the same way we get old slowly. I woke up recently and Bamm, I realized I am pregnant with old age; I want it to be a distant idea, but it is a state of being now; I can’t ignore it and I can’t avoid it.

By some wonderful design, getting pregnant and getting old both provide time for us to gradually get used to what will be a big change.

The sex was pure fun and carefree delight however when you find out your pregnant you realize quick, your life has changed. The inevitability of aging is no different. We live carefree lives and then, Ah Ha! you realize your life is not your own and from then on, it is surrender to letting go of all you delighted in. I am over 63 now and have out lived 4 family members. What this tells me is “get ready”. The horizon of dying is in sight. I find myself asking; Have I had enough? How much more time? How do I keep going and why? The big change of a coming birth or impending death demand new ways to be in the world with a good deal of mystery and fear, joy and humor.


Pregnancy is the end result of a couple who set into motion a new life and loose some of themselves in the process. Aging is like that. It is the absolute loss of self. At some point we come to grips with the fact that our life will not go on forever, and no one can prepare us for what we will loose. Our freedom, independence and control are only some of the losses. But actually aging has nothing to do with dying; it is time to prepare for new life in a new dimension. The old life is displaced by the new one.

The Birth

It is shocking to hold in your arms all the potential for abundant life. There are endless responsibilities and choices which need to be made for this little creature. There is no turning back; there is no avoiding the bond between the two of you and the commitment. Advanced aging is similar,  getting old even when you have no idea how it will play out. You have to deal with uncharted territory; I am alone in what will be. Hang in there, accept it is happening and commit yourself to the undeniable truth you are going to die so don’t waste any more time with illusions. Mothers own their babies but have to let them go, same with the life we thought we owned, we have to let it go. The life we have lived was on loan and one day we are forced to give it away, like a mother who surrenders her child into the world.

I watched my Mexican in laws, 89 and 87 sit together for hours, they didn’t even talk. Who knows what they were thinking. Basically their simple life was eating, pooping and sleeping. Their children, the house, their life’s work, and the people they knew had all morphed into something else. I think I was watching them relinquish one thought and experience at a time. It’s all lost in the end and it is what it is. Rejoice, it wasn’t really ours anyway!

No one can prepare us for the freedom and simplicity we will have once we are dead. Aging is an opening to newness just like a pregnancy brings forth new life. Both are intense and have so much to teach us, so stay awake.

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Mary Jane Miller’s latest book on Amazon

Women in the Catholic Church worldwide continue to seek a more meaningful role in the society and the formation of spiritual life. Despite evidence to indicate that Jesus strongly promoted the dignity and equality of women and that early Christians gave leadership roles to women, the influence of prevailing cultural norms has historically caused the role of Women in the Church to be diminished. Today when cultural bias against women has been overcome in parts of some societies in developed nations, the Catholic Church maintains a male dominated culture which excludes women from preaching, teaching, ordination and, decision making within the church and lacks inclusive religious imagery and language.

New Publication


Byzantine style Icons are traditional images commemorating saints and represent many of the main line theological ideas within the Christian faith. The mystery they portray provokes the viewer through symbolic language in image and color. Yet where are the Women? The variety of original Byzantine style icons represented IN LIGHT OF WOMEN are meant to intrigue the viewer and his or her understanding of contemporary icons as well as what they aim to portray.

I welcome your questions and conclusions after reading about the collection of beautiful images found in Mary Jane Miller’s latest book on Amazon In Light of Women. Art and Religion, Spirituality and Debate help us all to see our world better. BUY a copy on AMAZON

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God is Bigger

What if God is much, much bigger than the God that you don’t like?

Agnostics find believers to be silly or in need of an explanation for why we are here, they think we imagine it is too painful for us just to exist with no purpose. They are persons who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. Atheists one the other hand do not like any God defined by the believing world around them.

Atheist, Agnostics or Believer, evil and suffering is human business, not Gods.

The Big Bang alludes to the existence of God because science has yet to define what was there before the bang? There was some kind of he/she/it, I will call God before the bang, existing outside of space and time, outside of the laws of physics, outside of energy and matter. He/she /it does not exist in the way that you and I do, because we occupy points in space and moments in time. God positioned all the perimeters within the laws present in physics, biology, mathematics, geology, metaphysics, magnetism, astrology and everything else. Our miniscule minds can only accommodate a tiny bit of understanding in a lifetime.

The Concept of God

God cannot be fathomed unless we enter a larger universe, engage with its unlimited potential and have an ongoing relationship of paradox, confusion and delight. The creator existed in totality before the big bang, so that energy, spirit, sound or light was outside of our universe. That God is revealed in our spiritual search or journey to find the source and that source is found in the many forms of love which unfold before us We can meditate, cogitate, ruminate, and pray “it” into existence. But is some ways your search for God is a waste of your time. The God I am speaking of is as they say, as close as the breath you breath, and the thought you are thinking.

Clever humans are the ones who come up with systems for us to follow like Christianity, they build hypothesis like scientists to frame the answer so we can embrace and be part of the system, community. But remember it is just a framework to explain the vast explainable isness of creation which is so finely and perfectly tuned it seems arrogant to think we will ever be able to understand even half of it. It is easy to believe there is something greater than me and I can live with that and I call it God.

Christians believe the character of God is revealed through Jesus, the human example walking around among us. So there’s the great Jesus, telling us to go out and love each other , turn the other cheek, surrender and love God, and so what do we do? We make up rules and stories about “God”.

It is not about the rules others create about God, Jesus, Allah, Mohammad, Yahweh or Moses. It’s about the relationship of love between us, about the magnetism some mysterious creator put in our souls without our permission or request. It cause us to be attracted to the things which are inexplicable like the logic of love or faithfulness we feel when we want to give up. That unlimited potential we are given by the energy in the big bang gave us the magnetic undeniable love we all desire more of.

Resources : Andrew Fletcher speaks

An Elephant walks into a Hole: https://vimeo.com/259431471/b2f310c6c5

Reality is Determioned by Cats: https://vimeo.com/259240594/ab4a0aae7c

Knock Knock, Who’s there? Nothing!:https://vimeo.com/259240571/32a11805f2

How Old am I?: https://vimeo.com/258904032/8a2e4362cc

Quantum Tree in a Forest: https://vimeo.com/259240589/08eaf7c600 

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Learn Iconography and Meditation in Abingdon Virginia

July 16 to 20, 2018

Next Workshop at Jubilee House

In Southwest Virginia, the historical town of  Abingdon there is  a delightful retreat center filled with light and good energy to host an iconography workshop. We will have long mornings and afternoons to meditate, paint and enjoy the atmosphere. Great conversation and exchanges always arise at these workshops, the subject and tradition make for a fascinating mix of ancient technique and contemporary revival of eternal wisdom. Do not miss this opportunity to take time out from your busy life, to accept some instruction and meditate on what an amazing thing it is to be alive and here now.

Learn this Iconography and Meditation in Abingdon Virginia, an ancient language handed down from Byzantium times, 1,500 years ago. The practice reveals itself through the image and patient application, one brush stroke at a time.  Each  movement, breath, emotion or insight is left on the surface as a small history recorded as a witness to who you are.

The idea of moving small particles of sand around with a brush to create a divine image is exhilarating, it is contemplative.

Details on our website, Sacred Icon Retreat

Some say, “It is a surprise to be here, or I know nothing about this kind of painting  or this is amazing”. It is a wonderful time out,  a chance to gaze into icon images with silent satisfaction. Keeping the mind still and focused as seeing and listening “is” prayer. It could be someones first encounter with an icon and could be their last but one thing I am certain of, the experience and meaning are unforgettable. I am a rebel icon painter, self taught and un-orthodox but not without tremendous love of icons, its theology and an honest desire to share what creating them has taught me.

For info contact  and cost  Karen & Bob Vaughan  http://jubileeretreat.org/

Or write to Mary Jane Miller millericons@gmail.com

The facilities mountain atmosphere, good food and labyrinth circle make for a perfect retreat center fro learning Iconography and Meditation in Abingdon Virginia. All ages welcome as well as all levels, no experience necessary.

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Amazing Art and Iconographer in San Miguel Allende

Mary Jane Miller is fast becoming a voice for exploring new attitudes. Miller has been inspired for the past 25 years by the question, “What, besides spiritual awe, does religion tell us about the our human condition and our desire for the divine? Can we still receive guidance from the a worn out Christ story through interpreting ancient images and text in a new light? The answers she finds led to a new faith and hope for new contemporary images based on that old story, and today that means including women.


Currently she has finished a large body of work, published in her new book, IN LIGHT OF WOMEN. The book focuses on the absence of Women in Iconography. The collection includes full page color images with her commentary beside them. Iconography is the discipline of transcribing biblical text into pictures. Think for a moment about all those images of the last supper you may have seen. Mary Jane has painted many traditional images of the last supper, and now with several small changes. She included cultures from around the world and of course the women among them.

Religions around the world profess to want a more loving relationship with God and creation. Her images have the potential to enrich the traditional celebration of sacrament and mystery with a wider view for humanity in general. We are a global community, ready to share and flourish by seeing ourselves side by side with one another in every possible way, with no gender bias. History tells us Jesus transformed those he came in contact with. Amazing Art and Iconographer in San Miguel Allende will be lecturing on Mary Magdalene’s transformation to become a female apostle, disciple and follower.


History tells us the man named Jesus was a person who transformed those he came in contact with. Mary Magdalene also experienced a transformation and became a female apostle, disciple and follower. She was a woman who tenaciously held onto Christ through difficult times and today the new icons by Mary Jane Miller hope to celebrate, inspire and expand the feminine visions of the divine. Women are finding themselves in a new world, after 2,000 years. The church has no choice but to reached out to women by revisiting the documentation and significance of what they have known and learned by having Christ in their lives.


We hear nothing about Mary Magdalene after she was sent by Jesus to the apostles. Whether Mary went to a cave in France pregnant with his child or to the Egyptian desert to meditate, we will never know for sure. The Gospel of Mary retrieved from the sandy deserts of Egypt have given painters like Mary Jane a fuller picture of Christ’s early teachings and his conversations with women. For Women, the unraveling has begun. Few of us know if the Gospel of Mary was considered for canonical inclusion or not. The text scrolls found in1896 have been rejected by the traditional church “authorities”. However, in September of 2016 the Vatican finally recognized Mary Magdalene as the undiscovered mystic she might have been. The name Mary means, ‘Barer of the Light’ and Magdalena means ‘Elevated, great, magnificent’.

Mary Jane’s studio is open for a visit and some lively conversation.

NEW book on Amazon, an collection of icons  from IN LIGHT OF WOMEN,  delightfully deviates from the orthodox norm. Part of what Miller discovered while looking for the Women to be illuminated through icons was the fact that there are so few icons with women in them to use as inspiration. The book can be purchased on line through the Web site millericons.com


BUY A BOOK Click here

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Undiscovered Women in the Christian Tradition

Cultural bias against women has to a large extent been overcome in the societies of developed nations, however, the tradition and status of women is still unfortunately inferior to men around the world. Jesus strongly promoted the dignity and equality of women yet the early Christians leadership greatly reduced their roles in an effort to build the institution which reflected the cultural norms of the day. For 2,000 years women have been marginalized and I expect many will agree it is time for change. It will not come without effort from everyone one on every side to stop the prevailing ingrained bias and prejudice against undiscovered Women in the Christian Tradition.

For centuries they were physically seen but not heard, present but confined to areas behind grills, convent windows or to one side of the isle. The liturgies are still filled with subtle references to him and his, men of God and mankind. To some extent this is language. On the other hand, women often allow for the injustice and filter the teachings to include themselves or simply accept our names are not mentioned, and our voice is not heard.

According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ attitude towards women was one of love and respect. Jesus did not differentiate between men and women; both genders were invited to participate in the future kingdom of God. He walked through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news to God’s people. Prophets, Saints, Disciples and Apostles were named and called in both genders. They were all instructed to love, heal, teach and share the words of Gods instructions for the benefit of humankind.

The Women who knew Jesus

Mary Magdalene was one of his travel companions present at many events recording to the bible, yet women of that era normally didn’t speak to men in public. John 4:7 – 5:30 records Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan, an outcast, a foreigner and a woman, why would Christ even speak with her? The women who touches the hem of His garment He calls a “dog” ! The disciples argue over who will be the wife in heaven after 7 brothers have passed her from bed to bed! The women who washes His feet with her hair illustrates an act of extravagant love yet she is referred to as a prostitute simply because she wears her hair loose. Jesus cured a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding, curious ailment? yet this healing was possible with God. I call on the priesthood to review these stories and give us a clearer, deeper interpretations, ones where women are seen as valuable and wise rather than their being lesser then men, dirty or in need of healing.

One example of a women who knew Jesus involves the story of Veronica’s veil. As Jesus walked with His cross, a woman called Veronica seeing His blood and sweat, drew out her handkerchief and wiped His brow. Later on, she reverently caressed the piece of linen and later found the image of the blood-stained face of Jesus imprinted on it. This small act of kindness set in motion the whole tradition for iconography.

Women are unnamed disciples of Christ

Women followed Jesus at the baptism, feeding the five thousand, the last supper and Pentecost, etc. They had to have been there witnessing beside men because of His open and inclusive teachings. Women proved their commitment to Christ, at the foot of the cross, at the tomb and afterwards in service to the community as wise women apostles and disciples. Paul’s letters in particular yield strong historical evidence that the leadership roles of women in the infant church got distorted. Contrary to this the artwork in the catacombs appears to indicate that women took an active part in leadership in the early Church and also in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Christian Feminism

Many catholic women are restless and dissatisfied with the Churches refusal to dignify women. They find no benefit from their long devoted silence. No matter how much female devotion and dedication to the teachings, the Church institution continues to limit the service of women. Most women active in today’s church have come into contact with those in control who refuse to re frame the outdated “ancient” teachings institutionalized by men. Women are tired of always getting permission from a man. The bias towards them has changed too slowly.

In 1960 the Roman Catholic Church changed celebrating mass in Latin to each countries native language, before that it was Latin everywhere. It was a necessary alteration in the mass. People had changed and many no longer studied or spoke any Latin anywhere. In addition for centuries Catholics were encouraged not to read the bible independently for fear of false or misleading interpretations. The church had to change a long tradition to suite the times. This was a magnificent change opening communication and debate and thinking. How the church treats Women is a similar landscape which also needs change. Imagine men went to the moon in 1964 but after 2,000 years only a few nations are beginning to ponder the position of women in today’s church or society.

TRUTH Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Few biblical text defend the absence of Women’s voices. The words of ancient theologians fuel theological debates but unfortunately continue to perpetuate an ignorance of our contemporary world. Centuries ago women were accepted as inferior to men and considered unworthy, poor things were easily led astray. In the 2nd century Tertullian, said of woman: “You are the devil’s gateway”; in the 3rd century Origen wrote: “What is seen with the eyes of the creator is masculine, and not feminine, for God does not stoop to look upon what is feminine; in the 4th century Epiphanius said: “The devil seeks to vomit out his disorder through women.”

YUP outrageous, Harsh words indeed!

The study of  Gnostic influences must have really threatened the mainline developing church institution during the first two centuries. The teachings were decidedly unacceptable, too radical, too inclusive, too mystical to teach and therefore rejected, ridiculed and squashed. Many of the texts highlighted commonality and a common spirit shared equally within all of creation. Yet, the church chose to shape the cultural prejudice against women making them inferior to men by nature and by law. A male dominated church rose and kept the control. As late as St Thomas Aquinas 1250, we have a well developed attitude: “… the individual nature, a woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power….”. Theology like this altered the agenda of the day and may have helped to perpetuate the undiscovered Women in the Christian Tradition

Ladies, if you have ever wondered where the teachings came from, the framework for our continual debasement, the doctrines which have been hailed as word of God, these kinds of text above are still being held to be truth. If the men are so enlightened and want to teach the word of God, those in power will have to recognize the error and make amends, for too long we have failed to see accurately the God given blessed commonality within the male/female relationship. Those in power have the power to omit the words and teaching which do not serve but only hinder and separate women. The past has passed and we are fast coming into a new age of awareness. We are waking up to a new world. The sky and the mountains and the oceans have always witnessed truth, only humanity has failed to see clearly how balanced creation is and how it fits together as a whole, male and female alike.

We Can Allow Change.

It is not heretical to think there is equality with difference between the sexes. We are by no means finished learning to be one body in Christ, we have yet to fully develop and honor the feminine side. Our leaders must condemn sexual discrimination in their congregations on every level and work to put an end to the subordination of women in every community and societies around the world. Or we ill forever remain the undiscovered Women in the Christian Tradition

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