Praying with an Icon

“Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the Lord. She lay prostrate upon the ground…and said, “God of Abraham….Help me, who am alone…” (Esther C 12-14)

On one of my retreats a number of years ago, my director suggested I pray with the icon of the Holy Trinity.

The icon of the Trinity depicts three people sitting at a table; the original was probably painted in Russia in the 15th century. I had a copy of the icon in my prayer-book.

My strongest relationship with the Trinity was through the Son, Jesus. God and the Holy Spirit seemed to be less active in my spiritual life—at least from my perspective.

I followed my director’s suggestion and displayed the picture of the icon in my prayer space, and I meditated on the icon.

I looked at the icon for a while, noticing the details—the chalice on the table, the pointing fingers, the colors. Then I closed my eyes and held the picture in my mind. 

Trinity iconAs I sat in silent meditation, the Trinity invited me to come closer, and I moved into the empty space at the table.

I noticed the chalice as I drew closer, thinking the second person was pointing toward the chalice. As I got closer to the table, though, I realized the second person was asking me to look at the table. I looked, and to my surprise, the table was not an opaque table at all, but was really a window.

Through the window I saw myself as a little girl. I looked up at the Trinity and they each nodded. “Yes,” they said, “We watched you your whole life. We were always with you.”

I looked back down through the window and watched myself playing in the front yard of my house. I was maybe five or six years old. And I started to cry, tears of consolation and joy. The Trinity had been with me; I had not been alone.

I spent the next seven days of my retreat revisiting the events of my life, this time looking at those events through the window with the Trinity, knowing that I had been watched and cared about, no matter what was happening. Each event, viewed through the window with the Trinity, took on a different look. Things were not always as they had seemed and even when they were, I could see them differently through this window.

The passage from the Book of Esther is one of my favorites. Even though she knew herself to be without human support, she knew the Lord was with her. The icon of the Trinity reminds me of that truth in my life.


2 thoughts on “Praying with an Icon

  1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Anne Marie, Over the years, I have been so blessed by my prayer and retreats, and I have only shared it with a very few people–including Jim. Now, I am wondering why I have not shared how God has blessed me–and stepping out in my sharing. (I have stacks of journals so I have lots to share). Thanks for the OSF reflection/blog. I signed up for the emails.


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