I know that your heart yearns, little one,
to create something beautiful, a testament of love,
a reflection, in the dimness of this world,
of the radiant beauty of my own eternal light.
I know the longing within to give birth without,
the desire to create, sharing in eternal creativity.
I want you to know, beloved, and to feel
that the greatest masterpiece which I desire for you
is the unspeakable beauty which is you yourself.
You, the one whom I infinitely love, are the icon,
transparent to my shining glory, enfolded in my grace,
a blaze of fiery light bursting through the eyes,
a figure whose countenance, whose heart, whose life
is a reflection of the life, the heart, the face which is my own.
As an icon on wood and canvas is born
in fasting of the body and of the eyes,
which see no longer merely in a human and natural way,
but gaze at inaccessible light, made accessible
in the creation I have taken and espoused unto myself;
as the icon is a union of the Cross’s wood,
the cloth of the tomb in which I lay,
and the image of the glory of the Resurrection,
so too, you need not despair or be afraid
when the path on which I lead you winds, mysteriously,
over trackless ways, and the night that enshrouds you
is the most absolute of desert fasts,
allowing you no taste or refreshment for body, heart, or soul.
Every event and circumstance of your life, my child,
is nothing but the gentle touch of my Artist’s hands,
my brush pressing up against the canvas of your soul.
All things—arising even from the broken world around you,
from the body’s infirmity, even exasperation of the soul,
from the brokenness which has scarred the heart,
from the struggles of a burdened and afflicted mind,
and not only these, but the gracious delights too,
the glimpses of splendor and love which warm the heart,
the breaking of the sun’s rays over the horizon at dawn,
the gratitude of sitting down to a simple meal,
the companionship of family, friends, and love of neighbor—
all these are only tools of the craft which I use to fashion you,
not things which separate you from me insurmountably,
or vain and empty realities, like candles fading away.
Listen closely, and you can hear; hush, and you can feel,
the heartbeat of the most wondrous thing, present deep within,
the truest, most authentic reality, enfolding all the rest:
aflame in the inmost heart of all things: our eternal Joy.
What does the artist ask of his art to do,
except to remain pliable, receptive, under his master hand?
And you, my child, are not lifeless matter;
only walk forward, your hand in my own,
in the process of your own transformation,
embracing, in love, the gratuitous gift of sanctity,
and offering your willing, heartfelt docility,
springing from the loving trust and the trusting love
which I never cease to awaken within your inmost heart.
Look into the eyes of the icon-face, and you will see,
consider carefully, and you will know what I desire.
Eyes of holiness and eyes of glory flash out
from the midst of a body which has suffered and been spent,
becoming in this way, not empty or void,
but transparent for the divine happiness to shine through.
Look in these eyes, child, and see
(look with these eyes, which can also be your own)
they gaze so piercingly beyond the narrowness,
aflame with love’s ardent longing, ablaze with contemplation,
a yearning repose and restful activity,
the Fire of Joy, passing, forever,
between my Father and I.