Saturday, April 30, 2011

now is the season of Easter

The events of last week were very powerful.
 I have posted about the work that I did for the Great Vigil of Easter, the 40 foot tall Icon/Banner and the beautiful service we had until almost midnight.

I am going to tell about a moment that happened while I was painting during a very long intense week.
The banner is heavy canvas, 16 feet wide and 40 feet high. The only space we could use for painting in the last week, (we had to move it a couple of times) was the warehouse storage room belonging to the organization, World Relief.
World Relief has many offices all over the country but the one in our town is primarily focused on receiving and settling refugees and immigrants. Recently I have heard that they are helping a lot of Iraqi war refugees. Many of course, are widows and orphans. I had an encounter with a lady who was one of these recent arrivals and spoke no English but communicated with me in a moving way.

As I was on my knees painting away in the middle of the day, a woman dressed in long black robes, with her head also covered in black approached me. She spoke to me and it sounded like a question, so I answered that this giant painting was for the Easter service. She responded with the one word "Easter!" then she began to pray, with her hands upraised in the Orans posture.
She walked to the center front of the canvas as it was spread out on the floor and prayed for a long time, tears streaming down her face.  She continued to walk all around and repeated praying at four more spots. Finally, I put my brush down, (I had been painting all this time, not sure what to do) I approached her with my hand outstretched. She grabbed me in a huge hug, kissed me many times and repeated something that sounded like gratitude.
All I can think, is that she surmised that I was working on a giant Icon (why not, everything in America is big) . And as an Iraqi Christian, she was honoring the image in a traditional way.
Needless to say, covered with kisses and tears, I was  touched to the heart. I believe my work was really Blessed that day.
So we went from this, the photos above, to this below, the Saturday night service with full choir and orchestra and a resounding  Alleluia.