Today Father Damian blessed our icons, and us before we left St Gertrude’s. He sang a blessing, as is the Byzantine way, then sprinkled them with holy water – like the sprinkling we received when we remember our baptism. He touched each one with oil in blessing and then then he blessed us each with oil on our foreheads and the palm of each hand. The oil was scented with roses, and I got a whiff of roses when I moved throughout the day. It was lovely and moving, for each of us had poured our hearts and souls into the images we created with such labor and care. The Eastern tradition has a special emphasis on the incarnation as the source of our salvation, God’s presence mediated in our own world. Creating these images as a window to the world of heaven, filled with the light shining out from inside, gave us a special understanding of that presence of God in our own world that we in the West don’t always feel. I was elected by the group (who stole Fr Damian’s vial of oil) to bless him, head and hands, as we sent him on his way of teaching and sharing the love of God in images. It still reverberates in my heart.
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