A RETREAT WITH ICONS: FACE TO FACE WITH THE IMAGES OF LOVE
Icons captivate us by their beauty. They are called ‘theology in colours’, ‘portals to a higher realm’. One can paraphrase the icon as ‘spirituality in colours.’ The word, ‘icon’ comes from the Greek eikon, meaning likeness or image. In the eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, icons are used in the liturgy, but they also as aids to prayer and private meditation in homes. According to their purpose, as witnesses of the Incarnation, icons afford the viewer direct communication with the sacred figures represented.
Our icon retreat, while respecting this original context, gives us the freedom to use icons outside their canonical (ecclesial, liturgical) context. They are so rich and inexhaustible in meaning that they can speak to all of us. This retreat approaches icons from within the experience of faith. These meditations and shared reflections, hopefully will also speak to everyone with a spiritual openness. Icons, in our retreat, will be approached as ‘programs of Love’, which address us and invite to decipher their meaning. We can call these as the ‘hidden moral and theological images’ of the icon.
Our explorations will start with a meditation with the language of the icon itself. How we experience an icon, and how it opens up when we, gradually, learn to speak its language. What can we learn from icons? How can we approach them as ‘programs of love’? Why are icons, and meditation with these sacred images, relevant today? In the first singular, what can be there particular message for me? Our reflection on the language of icons will serve as a brief introduction into icons and how they work. Here, we will touch upon the fascinating theme, often ignored, of the ‘grounding of an icon’, and how the icon emerges, in the process of painting from the ‘chaos’, layer by layer, to a beautifully ordered message, which indeed points to the ‘Prototype’.
We will examine few individual icons. They will serve as our conversation partners in our meditations, like the Mandylion icon (which translates in Byzantine Greek as ‘small cloth’ or ‘towel’), also know as ‘not made by human hands’, an icon type of Mary, called the Eleusa (‘Loving Kindness’), and Rublev’s classic, the Trinity. There will be time for shared reflections, even, to do some simple drawing exercises. As part of our joint reflections, we will have a look at few of Michel Ciry’s ‘Biblical portraits’. They will link our Western sensitivity to the language of icons.
Our quiet day aims at inspiring us to ‘befriend icons’ according to our particular interest or work-context. We hope to keep the balance right, to respect (and become curious in) the icon’s canonical language, and also, to have a creative approach in using icons.
For the drawing exercise, as a preparation, all we need is a hb pencil or a rolling ball pen, etc, and our A4 printouts for a drawing exercise, which will be sent out to participants before the study day, together with few icons as illustrations.
Course Leader: Dr Joseph Gabor
Date: Saturday 6th November 2021, 10.00am–4.00pm (includes lunch and coffee breaks)
Register at Eventbrite : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-margaret-beaufort-institute-of-theology-33109216441
This event is online.