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Mother of Fairest Love

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Mother of Fairest Love

Mother of Fairest Love (Theotokos Kasperovskaya)
“I am the Mother of fairest love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue...”
Eccelesisaticus, 24 : 24-25
“They got a name for the winners in the world, I, I, want
a name when I lose ...”
“Deacon Blues” by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
“Brothers and sisters : That I Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
Around 1995, my Mother, Marjory commissioned an icon from me for a young couple she had met and felt they needed heavenly support. I had a beautiful book of Russian icons and I had her pick her favorite one. She chose this icon called “the Kasperov Icon.” So, as a surprise I chose another icon (Mother of God Rejoicing: the Pelagontissa Icon) for the couple and painted/wrote this one for her. Instead of the highly ornamented border in the prototype (original) I placed the name of my Father ... Stephen, and me and my siblings; Stephen, Robert, William, Mary, Marjory around the Mother of God and Child.
I will turn 72 this Saturday, 10 July. It was a full moon the night I was born and so I’ve always loved the moon, and you will see her in many of my images and icons. I’ve been preparing for my birthday by joking that , “I’d like to be like Gandalf the Grey turning into Gandalf the White; not Saruman the White.” One of the many gifts Dad gave me was, that’s what he did. He made the choice to be a kind older man, not the cranky, mean n’ frightened one. Now that I’m older too, I see how much it is a choice and how difficult a practice, (as the Buddhists say) this is. I’m certainly not there yet, I’ve had a few melt-downs on the way .... but I’m choosing this way, day by day. It does take practice for me. Dad also taught me how to lose everything and continue on, gradually ... finally gracefully. I would not be able to know the kind of love portrayed in these tenderness icons without feeling that extremely powerful and delicate love of my Mom. From each of my siblings, I have watched them love their children and now grandchildren, with this exact kind of fierce, gentle, passionate and forgiving unconditional love.
The reading from 2 Corinthians was from last Sunday. It hit me with a difficult and hard kind of healing. The word of God is so alive, you can hear a passage for years and then one day, it comes right at you. As a priest we have the same choice when we age; to become kinder or live with bitterness and anger. I’ve seen both in my life as a Jesuit, and these past 19 years as a diocesan priest.
But I promise to keep trying. This is my birthday prayer this year. As my late friend Fr Jim Janda wrote at the very end of his one woman play “Julian” about Lady Julian of Norwich:
“Life is a precious thing to me
and a little thing:
my life is a little thing,
when it will end here
is God’s secret.
And the world
is a little thing,
like a hazelnut
in his - her hand -
but it is in his ever-keeping,
it is in his ever-loving,
it is in his ever-making,
how should anything be amiss ?
Yes, all shall be well,
and all will be well,
‘and thou shalt see thyself
that all manner of thing
shall be well.’
I pray God grant you
all your good wishes,
desires, and dreams -
it is all in the choosing,
it is all in the asking.”
Fr Bill McNichols 💮 July 2021