Icons, Part Four

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

I’m wearing my favorite sweater this morning. It isn’t fashionable. It isn’t in one of the season’s hottest colors. It doesn’t draw attention to me when I wear it.

This sweater has been in my wardrobe for what feels like forever. I’ve worn it during some of the pleasantest weather of my life, and through the roughest storms. It holds up well; even after all this time, it isn’t shrinking, fraying at the hem, wearing through at the elbows, or unraveling at the seams.

I wear it with premeditated intention some days. I wear it on days when I don’t know what to wear. Even when I’m not quite sure where I left it, I can find it by feel in the dark.

This sweater reminds me of a lifelong Friend whose love has never faltered, never fallen apart; One who walks with me through sun and shadow; One who is there, though I can’t see Him, even in the deep darkness.

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Icons, Part Three

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

This statuette is the closest thing I have to a traditional icon. When she first came to pray in my garden some ten years ago, she was an angel, regal yet demure. She lost a wing during Hurricane Ike, which only made me love her more – though broken, she retained her beauty and poise.

The other wing was shattered when she was knocked down by a strong wind perhaps eighteen months ago, since when I have felt an even deeper connection to her. She is completely approachable now, and might be a friend, a kindred spirit. In some mystical way, I feel peace when I sit outside near her in the early mornings, and even when I look at her picture.

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

The Praying Lady speaks to me of Someone else, One who deliberately laid his divinity aside for a time and came to be like one of us, to be with us in all our joy and sorrow; One who sits now at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us.

Icons, Part Two

image by Joel Brotzman-Gonzales

image by Joel Brotzman-Gonzales

As far back as I can hear in my memory, I have known the call of the mourning dove. From the time I was a tiny little girl sitting on the front porch while Grandma did the early-morning watering, to this morning forty-five years later, sitting on the back patio after doing the early-morning watering, that melancholy, infinitely soothing three-note trill has sounded in my ears, as familiar as my own heartbeat and sometimes as unnoticed, and as centering and reassuring when I listen for it. It is perhaps as close as I can imagine the voice of God, murmuring over and over, “I am here, I am here,” here in this world that is bent and broken but never abandoned; swollen with sorrow, swallowed up by joy poignant as grief.

Icons, Part One

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

Madeleine L’Engle, in Penguins and Golden Calves, defines an icon as “something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God…saying something that cannot be said in words.”

As I grow older, I’m also growing more mindful of the things that remind me of His presence day to day, here, near me where I live – my personal icons, if you will.

Foremost among these are trees.

The trees of my earliest memories are those in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house – two massive trunks, strong and steadfast; huge graceful boughs spreading sheltering arms over the whole yard, making a living canopy of dappled light and shade under which my cousins and brother and I could play untroubled by the hot South Texas sun. Although Mama remembers when the house was built and the trees were planted, by the time of my childhood the place was comfortably settled and had, in my small consciousness, the air of that which always had been and always would be.

The home I live in now is a couple hundred miles northeast of Grandma and Grandpa’s old place, and several million miles removed from anything they would ever have imagined in terms of square footage, automation, and what they would call extravagance. But it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that has this air about it, this essence of home. There are seven trees on the lot, anchored by a magnificent oak in the backyard. I sit outside every morning early, airing my mind and soul and soaking in the strength, stability, and solace that seem to emanate from its heart.