This morning, the snowplow arrived at Camp Calumet, around 6:30 a.m. Hence this early post. We’re almost finished with our iconography retreat. All the Face of Jesus icons are lined up and ready for varnishing. The process has been remarkable for everyone. Only one person had the experience of writing an icon before, and it was wonderful to watch the surprise and joy, the deepening sense of mystery, on the faces of each of the participants as we proceeded through the stages of the work. Later on this week, maybe even today, one of the Program Directors, Judy Smith (who also happens to be a good friend) will post an albumn of photographs of the week on the Camp Calumet and I will put the link to them here.
The snow is about 10 inches deep, heavy on the pines, and the sky looks as if it might snow again. We spent the entire day yesterday putting on the last stages of the icon. It was another day of exercising patience as paint dried, and then, the sizing for gold dried. But the wait was worth it. We watched the snow fall. All day the chickadees and finches darted in and out of the woods coming to the birdfeeders stationed near the windows. When it was time to lay down gold leaf, the room felt magical. I had the wonderful job of helping students put the halos on the icons, and then watching as their faces changed to warm delight at what they saw. It was like Christmas, a day of fellowship and gift-giving; intangible and tangible, the gifts came directly from the hands of the Holy Spirit. A little bit of gold leaf goes a long way, and we save every speck of gold dust we can whisk up afterwards.
After varnishing them this morning, we’ll have a worship service, then, turn our faces homewards, and disperse.
The Camp staff tells us it was a successful retreat, and we’re already looking for a good time to teach next year. Last night we shared a little of our experience during this week. One retreatant said she felt the icon had come alive for her. Someone else said that icons are “portals of prayer” with hats off to the publication of the same name. Traditional names for icons are “doors of perception,” or “windows of prayer.” That has been the case for this retreat–we felt the spirit of prayer accompany us along every stage of the way.