It was 1989; I was in my first year of seminary. Browsing the bookstore one morning I found a book illustrated by Fr John Matusiak called Orthodox Clipart. Therein was a drawing of Mary in a font with Christ in her lap. I was captivated by what I thought was a beautiful illustration of baptism: birth and rebirth. I bought the book and excitedly showed the wife. Two things happened thanks to that purchase: 1) We commissioned an icon of that image from an iconographer we met in Madison, Wisconsin; 2) later, as an Orthodox Mission priest, those clipart images found their way into many a newsletter and bulletin.
When the icon was finished, I asked the iconographer, David Giffey to deliver a presentation at the seminary. Only then did I learn that the image was of “The Life-Giving Font” and had a rich and real history. It hung above the couch in our married student housing apartment. (We were Episcopalian.) It later served as the central icon above the holy table in a house church and a store front mission. (We were Orthodox.) For the past 19 years it has served as the centerpiece of our family icon corner. Last year, my eldest daughter visited the Church of the Life-Giving Font in Constantinople and brought back water for our icon corner.
Thus, when Patriarchal Vicar, Metropolitan Silouan of Beunos Aires and Argentina visited Houston and inquired if there would be a Liturgy on Bright Friday, the Feast of the Life-Giving Font, I knew which priest need volunteer. Such a blessing! At the end of the service, I asked His Eminence to pose with the icon for a picture. He said that when he returned to Argentina he was going to tell the faithful that the Church in America is so poor they can’t afford icon stands – he had to hold the feast day icon himself!
O Lady graced by God,
you reward me by letting gush forth, beyond reason,
the ever-flowing waters of your grace from your perpetual Spring.
I entreat you, who bore the Logos, in a manner beyond comprehension,
to refresh me in your grace that I may cry out,
“Hail redemptive waters.”
– Hymn of the Feast