Saturday, May 17, 2008
An icon for Trinity Sunday and every day
Tomorrow Christians in Israel and the world will celebrate Trinity Sunday.
This medieval Russian icon is actually called the "Hospitality of Abraham."
It depicts the appearance of the three angels to Abraham and Sarah at the Oak of Mamre (as told in Genesis 18).
But over the centuries Abraham and Sarah stopped appearing in the icon and it become known, and seen, as the icon of the "Holy Trinity."
In his book Behold the Beauty of the Lord, Praying with Icons, Henri Nouwen contrasts the two different approaches: "St. Benedict, who has set the tone for the spirituality of the West, calls us first of all to listen; the Byzantine fathers focus on gazing."
Nouwen points out that "Andrei Rublev painted this icon around 1425 . . . to offer his fellow monks a way to keep their hearts centered in God while living in the midst of political unrest."
Unrest? Hmm, that sounds familiar, like here and now in Israel.
Perhaps we all need to take a few minutes a day to quietly gaze into this icon.
Whether you see Abraham's three angels (as I do) or the three persons of the Trinity, this icon surely has something to show us.
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday meme.)