While wanting to be faithful to the Russian tradition of icon painting, Ludmila Pawlowska seeks a new way of expressing what Matisse (when he discovered icons) termed “luminosity and devotion.” Her own Orthodox faith and cultural heritage (she was born in Kazakhstan and has been influenced by art movements in Sweden, where she lives) shape her exploration. “God is not an idea, and praying is not an exercise to improve our idea of God,” she says. She calls an icon a kind of prayer—“the cultivation of the awareness of God’s actual presence.”
This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. All of the readings for this Sunday focus on kingship—David’s, God’s, Jesus’. Jesus’ views on kingship are revealed in his famous discussion with Pilate. Jesus makes it clear that his kingship is directed at testifying to the truth.
Jesus is a king with a specific mission: he has come into the world to testify to the truth.
When we think of the blood of Christ, we think of the unnumbered insults; the five wounds; the blood beading from the thorn incisors encircling his head
But what if, instead, we thought of the blue and red twining vessels of the umbilicus, what if we pictured the roseate and warm web of nutrients we call placenta?
Why not envision the body of Mary her autonomic brain as it was building, creating a network of feeding and growing: caring and corpuscle, healing and hemoglobin, making a mammal’s four-chambered heart, fed by the rich cake we call placenta, shaping salvation’s vascular system?
Christ’s heart took shape in Mary’s body. His blood first coursed her valves and veins. It was made with her womb’s weaving, overcast by heaven’s venture, manifest through serving love, cell by alizarin cell.
It is the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday of the church’s liturgical year. All of today’s passages reflect on kingships—those of David, God and Jesus. Although Christians in America are far removed from any direct experience of a king, these passages can teach us about our own political life.