Rather than a steeple pointing up to God, this community worshiped under a dome, suggesting full of God. I walked in and up in the interior of the expectant womb was a written icon of Theotokos, Mary, and her son.
Icons were everywhere, drawing me to worship by considering the life stories of these saints. Since I wanted to find spiritual connections throughout the city, I inquired about a lesson in iconography.
I was upfront about the opportunities I had, in my church, to sit with people coming from differing worship experiences and opening to authenticity. The clergyman did his homework. Three times he began a statement with, “I do not mean to be critical, but…” and continued with why his church was unlike mine. Three times I gently brought him back to the reason I was there.
I was receiving the priest’s words in a way that seemed to mask something bigger. So, as he talked, I privately moved into deeper breathing, letting the icons speak to me through color and image.
I gave my mind wandering privileges, what if every person and every experience is meant to keep us in ongoing transformation? The church where I was standing claims, I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved.
I had hoped to make a personal connection while learning more about icons. Could this experience be about being saved, from myself, though? Before I knew it, I found myself climbing up into that safe, expectant womb to be formed by Spirit, yet again.
I thought about how often I had used words to point others to. Now, I wanted to create quiet, transformational spaces like Mary, in the dome.
Unknowingly, the priest had reminded me of the fluidity in an individual’s inner journey as opposed to doctrine and standards to which religious organizations are tightly held. That, and his kindness, made it easier to respect the priest’s stance and the responsibility that he surely must have felt.
Picturing myself in the expectant womb provided strength as I received words that felt dividing in nature. I had no need to rebut. Instead, I left the church, the womb, wanting to hold space for those who were lightly holding the outer principles alongside their inner experience and had no place to share their considerations.