A theologian once said, “it is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that “truth about Jesus Christ,” “truth about the Church” and “truth about humankind” This is an amazing statement and one worth thinking about. I guess as a practitioner of prayer and a journey woman in the spirit, I am not sure there are absolute truths which can be spoken, but rather, deep truth can only be known and experienced. The masters of doctrine and theology are to be praised for their commitment to language and outstanding efforts to articulate scripture for us, but I would still choose experience over words. One form of experience is the practice of iconography .
Statements like the following offer a lifetime of active reflection. Orthodox teaching; “From her we have harvested the grape of life”; “from her we have cultivated the seed of immortality.” “For our sake she became Mediatrix of all blessings”; “in her God became man, and man became God.”
Indeed these kinds of sound bites gives structure our experience of the divine. Dogma has great value, except when there is no more room for flexibility or creative new perspectives. When the words are enough to satisfy but do not grow cultivate wisdom, the words remains empty. There are some who dedicate their love to interpreting what things mean, they give meaning and structure to what is “normal” or agreed upon.
Example; There are three ways to know God, like knowing a particular painting. You can see the painting, know the artist or read long passages about the paintings significance. Any one is fine, combinations of the three may seem better but the truth about the paining will ultimately remain illusive. Until it becomes personal. Anyone who has spent time in meditation and prayer will discover knowing what is Life is a Dilemma. We are here but who are we and whose are we and what is the who thinking? There is value of “living the question”, “living the mystery”,” live from the heart and seek not answers from this world or the mind”.
The wisest people in the world are silent.
I know why! None of us can give experience or awareness of the divine to anyone. Fabulous irony! How do we communicate without words, how do we share our lives with one another with no sound? The stories about Mary, Jesus, humanity and religion are mystery to be known and explored through the heart. It takes time. The text in the bible surely helps, along with ritual, doctrine, study, prayer, and the faith filled community. But, in the end after all the thoughts and words, we are each unique expressions of Gods life force, thinking and acting.
Painting icons is one form of prayer, contemplation, and action wrapped up in history and tradition but ultimately it is simply experiential. Take a class with Mary Jane Miller and you will see for yourself.