WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AN ICON, SO WE'RE TALKING ABOUT LIGHT. This icon of the Holy Trinity has survived 588 years, including seventy years of violent, destructive Soviet disbelief. How!?
And of course, when we're speaking of an icon's light we're not talking about light-bulb light, or even sunlight, but heaven's light. And heavenly light is not an illuminated geographical place in the sky - but light for our minds. To stand before Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity is to invite light into our lives. Enlightenment?
American Benedictine Monk, Father Mark Gruber, was staying in an Egyptian desert monastery when a 130 degree heat wave settled over the area surrounding the monastic property. The abbot was afraid that the American guest would die of heat stroke and dehydration and that he would then have to deal with the complexities of shipping a deceased American back home. So he had an elderly and frail monk escort the American some miles further into the desert, to the deep cave where the monastery's founder-monk lived for some years - a cave which would be thirty degrees cooler and where there was a cistern of sweet water.
As the desert road covered holy ground, the journey to the cave needed to be made barefoot. As Father Mark, muttering, mumbling, grumbling and complaining, became aware that the soles of his feet had begun to bleed from the hot sand, the elder barefoot monk scurried ahead, discovering the scorpions that were poised to strike, all the while singing an Arabic hymn which resembled a child's melody. Father Mark remembers the lyrics as something like this:
"O God, I thank you and I praise you for this beautiful day in which you smile upon us with the strength of the sun and the warmth of your heart a furnace of love. I thank you for our founder who came to this barren wasteland to cultivate a garden of gratitude and praise in this house of prayer, this holy place of refreshment in the wilderness." (Journey Back to Eden, Mark Gruber O.S.B, p. 201)For starters then, enlightenment might mean: getting free of earthbound concerns, becoming aware of the others, grateful for whatever is good, looking beyond to the holy place of refreshment in the wilderness (which we can name for ourselves).
We might pause for some moments or minutes in silence before Rublev's icon, simply to notice, to consider the light it contains. Then out of the silence, ask for the gift of light. Be still, and see if anything comes to mind.