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.
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