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  • Writer's pictureshelisloterbeek

Look Up - Christ is Near

It was one of our rarer warm winter days last week, so I decided to take a walk around the monastery that is close by to where I live. There are beautiful mosaic icons around the property and often I'm drawn in by their pixelated stories.

After a time, I began walking back to my car, it was getting overcast and chilly. Then I spotted a shrine with a mosaic icon I hadn't spent time with previously, so I started to look at it. (Sidenote: icons are fairly new to me in the last few years. I grew up with stained glass windows of Jesus with sheep, but anything with a "saint" wasn't something I was familiar with or even sure was okay until a few years ago. I'm also not here to tell you how to "read" an icon - but I'll just share my own way of being with it.)

Reading the title "Christ and the Pilgrims" I wondered about the people in the scene. Tried to see if I could understand the icon writer's thoughts about what was going on.

And then she caught my eye.

Head down, eyes large, but closed, small mouth it seems like she might be kneeling, a staff in hand and perhaps not meant to be a woman at all because of the short hair? But they caught my attention nonetheless.

I wondered about her. I'm imagining Jesus journeying with her. What brought her to this place with Jesus? How did she get so close? If she is a pilgrim "on the way" has she reached her destination? Or is she still journeying?

And then I noticed Jesus' hand. It's right above her. Does she even know? He's so close. Does she feel his loving presence? And I thought "just look up - look up".

And so for me, I wondered how often is my gaze turned away or down? And not just my literal gaze, but my heart gaze?

Jesus is with me, God is with me, the Spirit is with me on the pilgrim journey. Where is my attention?

There's no other thought here - just a series of my own wandering questions and a gentle reminder that Christ is near. Look up (or in, or next to you, or around you) Christ is near. Christ is with you on the journey. Look into his gentle gaze, come into his loving presence.

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