I am very fond of some of my earlier icons as I had no idea what I was doing and they seemed to create themselves despite my ineptitude. The Christ on the Throne of Glory above was my fourth icon painted around 2005 and based on one by the excellent Rublev. I so loved working on this icon and dealing with all those pesky seraphim with their curly wings. The gilding on his robe was done using scraffito. After laying down the gold I somehow managed to get the egg tempera to stick on the top and when it had hardened enough, was able to scrape off the design with a cocktail stick.
The gold on the robe represents inner light and I feel this symbolism of revealing the gold is akin to our spiritual journey. We start off as a beautiful soul in heaven and then, in this world, we get covered with dust which gets thicker and thicker as we wend our way through the torrent of vicissitudes and if we become unaware of our true nature we get buried deep in this darkness of dust that is like some concealing shell. By that stage we fall under the illusion we are doing quite well in the world and fitting in rather nicely, perhaps. Our minds and small hearts convince us we are doing just fine and cry 'please don't rock the boat by looking for something supernal'. Indeed, such clever things are hearts and minds are they construct whole structures and organisations including religious ones to keep us from paying attention to the reality of our true selves. Once they have this hold on us they are not going to let it go easily.
But our hearts and minds do not function in heaven, they are just helpers for us to live and survive here. Our true being, that is, our soul, is what we need to pay attention to and in order to do that we have to find time to quieten the noisy mind and the unsettled heart. Finding a space within of emptiness to allow that which is from heaven to fill us and guide us from within is both simple and incredibly difficult. It is hard to separate from the chattering mind at first but one needs to be willing to search and find clues and see the way God communicates with us. When you start to look truly, you may be surprised at what help comes your way.
Christ on his throne is covered with the dust of this world- and tempera pigments are literally that - yet the light from within is revealed. He came to be here with us and suffer with us and become grubby with our misdemeanours. Yet he also showed us the way home. This world is not our home and when we are comfortable within it we are possibly farther away from our true home.
For those who are feeling displaced, strangers, refugees and the rejected in society, take comfort- you may be closer to coming to your true home than most.