My husband shared with me a page out of our Daily Vitamins for Spiritual Growth Book (volume three) by Anthony M. Coniaris that he happened to pick up and flip open to. It was a wonderful reading and I decided to share it with you today. It’s from p. 147 (May 22nd). It is titled “DAMAGED ICONS”:
“Every one of us is created in the image of God. And every one of us is like an image of God, an icon of God that has been damaged by sin. But if I were given an icon damaged by time or circumstances or human hatred, I would treat it with great reverence and tenderness. I would pay attention not primarily to its being damaged. I would concentrate on what is left of its beauty.
This is exactly what we must learn to do with people. Every one of us is a damaged icon. Who has not been wounded by sin or suffering or hatred or excessive criticism? We must learn to look and look until we come to see by God’s grace the inner beauty of the image of God in each person, however marred it may be. Only then can we even begin to help that inner beauty to blossom. For unless we strengthen the image of God in us and encourage it to grow, it will die. We all need encouragement, and we need it all the time. We need it for ourselves and we need it for others, especially for our children. For we are all damaged icons in need of repair; damaged icons that need to be brought to the Master Iconographer – Jesus – for renewal and restoration.
For this renewal to take place we need encouragement: the encouragement of God, which we have; the encouragement of the Scriptures, which we have; and the encouragement of God’s people, which we do not always have. And which we so desperately need.
Isn’t this the way Jesus treated people – people like Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, Peter who denied Him three times, and so many others? Through His forgiveness He encouraged them to grow and achieve their full potential as children of God. This is how Zacchaeus the dishonest tax collector went on to become the benevolent philanthropist; this is how the adulterous Samaritan woman who had five so-called “husbands” became St. Photini, one of the first evangelists; and this is how the weak, vacillating Peter the Rock, the chief of the apostles. The encouragement sinners received through Christ’s forgiveness made them new persons.”
I thought this was a wonderful thing to share during Lent. It’s a wonderful thing to contemplate in our spiritual journey – not only how all of us are created in the image of God and ALL of us are images that have been damaged by sin but that we should treat one another with reverence and tenderness REGARDLESS of the tarnished damage and how we should concentrate on the beauty that is still there. We must do that with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our mothers and fathers and all of our family, friends and others around us.
We must offer our love even to the people in our lives damaged by sin. We must reach out and encourage them – point out the beauty given to them by God – show them we believe it’s still there. For it is… We must encourage. We must love. We must forgive. We must pray.
Other Books by Anthony Coniaris: Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life, Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality, Daily Vitamins For Spiritual Growth - Volumes I and II , and many more!