As soon as I saw it, I felt drawn in. The icon of the beloved disciple in the oratory (small prayer room) just along the corridor from my room is beautiful. And after searching on Google I think it is the best of the bunch! I felt particularly drawn to the disciple and identified with him. In this retreat I needed to rest in Jesus, to put my head upon his chest and know his love.
During the first day I decided to paint my own version of it, placing myself as the disciple. I knew it would not be an icon in the proper sense of the word and as I didn’t have acrylics with me it would be done using watercolour (not my favourite) plus crayons and felt tips. And anyway, proper icons are always written using natural materials.
The original has some words in French that I eventually managed to track down a translation for in someone’s blog from 2013 https://www.goodsams.org.au/article/my-year-of-leaning/
”Je te faircerai a moi dans la tenderesse“ means “I will draw you to myself with tenderness”. No wonder I had felt drawn to it. The blog also had:
John leant back on Jesus at the last supper. It was said of him that he therefore heard the heartbeat of God. To listen for the heartbeat of God is to listen bot within the vastness of the universe and within the intimacy of our own hearts (John Philip Newell).
Be one with the One in whom I live, move and have my being (Acts 17:28)
“Faith is relaxing into the embrace of the One who likes us”. James Alison
My retreat companion was able to shed more light on the translation. Je te faircerai means I betroth you. It is related to the word fiancé which makes it a much more intimate sense of being drawn into God’s presence.
I managed to add something each day on my icon as I rested more into God’s presence and was able to feel Jesus’ presence with me. I had arrived at the retreat feeling very tired. I came away feeling refreshed and more connected with God than previously. I hadn’t realised just how spiritually dry I had become.
Here’s my finished picture.
And here is it next to a copy of the original one that inspired it.
Overall I am very pleased with my painting. I can see a great many faults and things that could be better. But as I always say to myself this is a prayer and painting journal/sketch book with the emphasis on PRAYER not painting. I am amazed at how well the faces have turned out as I do not usually paint or draw people.
I will post again with reflections based on my retreat as I look through and see what might be helpful to others. I hope that you will find the icon and/or my painting helpful as you pray and reflect on God’s love for you. If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus, then you are also a beloved disciple. I am no more special to God than the next person.