Creation is healing.
Perhaps I never understood that very well until I met my friend Ina Hecker. She is from Chile and lives in the United States. She is artistic, energetic and very funny – she is always joking about her family, her life and her work. I actually never met her, we are electronic friends -- but I have seen her and her children “the sea otters” who in her imagination eat clams and sea urchins for lunch and wrap themselves in kelp at night to sleep in the sea! What a fantastic vision and joyful imagination.
But we met because of tragedy. Over the last two years two of my sisters died, both suddenly. I wanted to make a memorial for them with my niece and when I saw her work (she writes icons) I decided to commission one for a chapel in Kenefick, the residence hall where I am a chaplain.
Ina wanted to celebrate my birthday and our friendship turned kinship so she is now creating another icon, of St. Peter the Aleut. My interest in him is because he is indigenous and because he is Orthodox and because, as the legend goes, he was tortured and died for his faith by Spanish Priests (in some stories Jesuits!). Some say the legend is not true; others that it is fact. The symbol is there though and needs to be healed as part of Catholic reconciliation with the Orthodox and indeed with the whole world. So a Hispanic iconographer is writing an indigenous Saint that incorporates his own culture in the elements of the image for a Jesuit brother of hers. How more creative and healing can one get?
Creation and healing – seems they would not need to go together. But we know the creative force of this beautiful earth can be terribly destructive – witness the recent tsunami, an undersea earth tremor, that created destruction of horrific dimensions. Yet the destruction of that moment calls for a new creativity in healing, not just physical (that is essential) but also spiritual. The destruction has called the entire world to help, healing and reconciliation.
In the readings today God creates this beautiful universe. God’s Son continues to heal within that universe, touching and transforming tragedy. Thus we have the New Creation. Thus through Christ’s sacrifice the whole world is redeemed.
creation is not perfect; it is only a symbol of the perfection of God’s holiness
and life and our incorporation into that life. While Ina was making the icon,
Peter’s visor, a sun shade used when hunting sea otters (thus her children
imaged as playful otters), was shaped wrong and did not exactly fit the icon.
So a day went to healing the original design to make it right.
This has been a very hard and sad year for me yet relatives and friends have helped me through and helped heal me. Prayer has helped me, even those empty or angry or frustrated prayers that only God can face and heal.
A distant icon writer has also healed me through friendship, kinship and creating an icon that while it commemorates division and death also commemorates reconciliation and life.
The icon is not done yet – nor is our healing done—nor is our creativity done either! Each day is a miracle as it takes shape and Ina and I laugh and cry and tell stories all electronically!
comes through touching and seeing and tasting – icons are physical and need
to be seen and touched and kissed. Please let me introduce you to Peter – a creation out of “nothing”
as well as a creation out of the glories of God’s own creation (malachite,
azurite, egg, gold, wood) as in the first reading. A healing through creation
and touching and seeing (well, for now via the computer screen) as in our
P.S. Did you find the otter?
Click here to find more of Ina’s healing work.
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