Wednesday, 23 October 2013


I'm borrowing, with great gratitude, this icon from Kirsten's Episodes and Interludes. It's a type of icon that originated in Macedonia and I was astonished to read, when tracking it down, that it's sometimes described as Our Lady with the Playing Child. It doesn't look like play to me...

I see an anguished mother struggling with a struggling child. An unbreakable bond of love between them - yet here she struggles to hold him and because of the inadvertent clumsiness and awkwardness of how they are together he grabs - or slaps? - her face.  Look at those eyes. Is she saying "No one told me it would be like this"? Or is she saying "This is how it always is this side of heaven"?

The joy and terror of her vocation. The pain and weariness of the journey and the birth. The tenderness and wonder of receiving and holding him. The prophecy of the sword. The losing and finding of the growing-up child. The rebuke and the miracle at the wedding. "Woman, behold your son".  The secret meeting on Easter morning (thank you, Ignatius!) too intimately wonderful to be told to the Gospel writers. Her life and his woven of Sorrowful, Joyful and Glorious mysteries. I don't want it to be like this. I don't like it. But as a kind friend told me in another struggling time, "it is what it is what it is what it is..."

Today my fingers were guided through the threads of Google to find this:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

It's Kahlil Gibran.  A couple of days ago, maybe even last night, I might have dismissed it as trite and chucked the iPad across the room. But morning's a better time for me and this morning I'm quite glad to have found it. 

I'm still struggling. Some things still feel like a slap in the face (I've been revisiting bits of my past story). But, ultimately, it's not me doing the holding. Thank God.
And apologies if the spacing or anything else here looks a big odd. I think Blogger's struggling this morning too!


  1. Thank you, a beautiful icon and some thoughtful words

  2. Beautifully written Antonia, sorry to hear of the struggle, but love the pottery reference!

    1. Good to see you here, Annette - and thank you. Thought you'd like the pottery reference! It's a powerful image, isn't it?


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