Looking for Jesus: My Son’s Loving Interaction with Icons

Looking for Jesus: My Son’s Loving Interaction with Icons November 1, 2016

David Russell Mosley

A few of my icons where I used to keep them.
A few of my icons where I used to keep them.

Ordinary Time
All Hallows’ 2016
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Readers,

Happy All Hallows’, also known as All Saints’ Day! I hope you remembered the dead last night and today reflect on the departed who reside in heaven and whose prayers are often a help to us. Today, I want to tell you about something I have witnessed the past two days. One of my children, Theodore, has been kissing my icons.

Now, for my Orthodox friends, this is nothing unusual. After all, kissing icons is part of everyday life for you. However, I will be the first to admit that it’s not a common occurrence in the Mosley household. I only have a small collection of icons. I have one of the Transfiguration that I picked up at an Anglican Benedictine Monastery in England, one of Christ Enthroned from these excellent iconographers, one of Rublev’s Trinity, one of Mary the Unwithered Rose, and one of John Cassian given to me by a friend who converted to Russian Orthodoxy. Three of these (the two of Jesus and Rublev’s Trinity) sit on a little end table by my chair. Two days ago, with some encouragement from me, I will admit, my son, Theodore kissed them, after telling me that at least two of them showed us Jesus. I loved seeing these small acts of devotion. I will be the first to admit that I’m not doing nearly enough to help catechize my children, and so when their natural inclinations lead them to acts like this, I’m reminded that the grace of God can overcome my failures as a father.

Yesterday, however, Theodore took things a step further. After giving each of the icons a kiss, he took them off their stands and started walking around with them. Eventually, he took all three and moved them to my bed. Then, since he’s two, he got down off the bed to play with his bike and forgot all about them. When he did remember them, he couldn’t remember where he had left them. He started running around the room shouting, “Jesus! Jesus! Where are you? Jesus!” I will admit I nearly cried. Here was my child, running around seeking for Jesus. Desperation came into his voice as continued to look for him and couldn’t find him. What a parable for our own searches for our Lord. Don’t we all find ourselves looking for Jesus, forgetting where we last saw him, only to find him in the most of ordinary of places?

Now, I must admit, Theodore acts the same way when he can’t find his blanket. He runs around shouting, “Blank! Green Blank! Where are you?” But even there it seems he recognizes something I often forget. He recognizes that he has, in some strange way, a real relationship with his blanket, an “inanimate” object. Somehow it is, if not personal, still more than just a blanket. With the icons this gets moved a step further. After all, while an icon is not the same as the subject it depicts, it nevertheless has a real relationship with them.

Having children can be incredibly trying at times. And I have often joked that the reason children are cute is so we don’t kill them (which is actually probably somewhat true biologically/evolutionarily speaking). But in moments like this, even if they are immediately followed by having to tell my child off for doing something wrong, remind me that while original sin is very real, my children haven’t been trained up to see the world with the eyes of modernity, not yet, and there is much they can teach me about seeing the world. And for this I praise Jesus, even if I can’t always find him.


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