Sunday, November 15, 2015
The Theology of Movement and Christ the Teacher Underdrawing
As I learned more about theology I ran across the concept of God as the "never-changing ever-new", and realized that God is not a static being. He is constantly active without changing (thus taking time out of the equation). God is Love, The process of God loving us can be likened to dropping a huge boulder in a pond: it's only done once, but the reverberations are felt in the lake for all time. God made a decision, which all the saints joined in and which the events in our time are intertwined with. This never-changing ever-new act of love has permeated all of our existence.
Icons are the pictoral representation of that boulder hitting the lake of creation. When you look at an icon you are not seeing an image that's static, you're seeing an action that transcends time and space so profoundly that you can't track it. Similar to something moving so fast that we can only see after-images, icons show a reality that only appears static because one choice has been made, thus affecting us forever. Each and every moment when I look at an icon I see the eternal choice of Love incarnated in that moment. The next moment is an entirely new revelation because I changed from the previous moment, but God did not. We constantly reach out or back away from the Divine Offer as God breaks into our souls, enlivening them by His presence. Each moment is a new overture of love from the Lover. The only reason why it looks different to us is because we changed in that split second of perceiving the offer of love from Love Himself.
How does this affect icons? Well, I think movement should be shown more greatly than it is in most icons. The icon does not just show the subject but also the viewer: that's what the border is, it's the world, your soul, embracing the divine. That's why some icons break border: it's to represent the movement of the divine into our world. Icons sometimes show cloaks flapping in an imaginary breeze. That's supposed to represent the breath of the Spirit Himself, Who goes where He wills. Icons are about theophany, the theosis that happens to all peoples and nature. That is not a static reality, just a reality that only needs to utter one Word for all time.
Icons are supposed to show the Kingdom of Heaven. This place is not a static one, but one living in a singular Word who offers a singular sacrifice of Love to the Father. Never changing, ever new, icons depict this reality by breaking borders (thus making the moment present to us) and by showing a wind blowing through to represent the Spirit as it enlivens the offering. These are not pretty pictures to stare at, but a representation of a reality that needs to be encountered, grappled with, and accepted. The Kingdom of Heaven is amongst you: how will you respond to it?