I have been completing my training to be a Spiritual Director from the Shalem Institute these past ten days. Part of that training was a period of silence for 36 hours. During that time I prayed in front of an icon called "Madonna the Mediator" in Venice. I have never been especially drawn to icons, but as I gazed at this one, a poem came to me:
The Black Madonna of Venice
She loves with open eyes
Knowing all of it.
She stares without emotion at me beyond the frame.
Her left hand holds her son lightly
Her right fingers stretch toward him
Leaving a space between.
As if to say: “Let it come
Wonder, sorrow, death—all of it.
I am here.”
I want to hold and be held like that.
I want to stand in the center
and not be afraid to see beyond the frame.
I want to lean into what is here and what will be.
Not looking back---
Not worried about what is to come.
Rooted in now.
Holding my hand out to the Christ
So connected I don’t need to look his way.
Only the weight on my left arm reminds me who and where I am
And why we all are here.