Several years ago I had opportunity to visit a parish where the icon, Our Lady of Sitka, had been brought for veneration. The Church was packed that evening and I had the privilege of concelebrating the Akathist to the icon. There are many stories told about wonder-working icons. Some are known to weep tears of myrhh. Why a particular icon becomes a “wonder-working” icon is a mystery known only to God. It is not about how they are painted (well or badly), or how they are blessed and by whom. There are simply occasions in which the veil that hides the truth of reality is withdrawn and wonders become yet more manifest.
Visiting the Sitka Mother of God, I had an interesting experience. I have no idea whether anyone in the Church shared the same experience or not. What I noticed was a sense of weight where the icon rested – or that is the best way I know to describe it. It was a sense of weight that made the whole of the room and everything in it seem drawn to the icon – like so many planets drawn to a star.
St. Paul speaks of an “eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17) that awaits us. The statement is something of a play on words. In the Hebrew (though St. Paul was writing in Greek) the word for glory “Kavod,” also has as its root the meaning of weight. The glory of God has about it an aspect which the Scriptures describe with the word for heaviness. It gives some understanding to the story of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, when the glory of God so filled the Temple that it says, “the priests could not stand [stand up] to serve. The glory of God pressed them to the ground.
The presence of God in our lives rests as a weight – not a weight which oppresses us, but a weight which gives a center and orients all things to itself. God’s glory sets all things around it in order as they are drawn towards it.
The greatest manifestation of the glory of God is surely the Pascha of Christ. It is the center towards which all things are drawn. As St. Paul notes: “[God has] made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph. 1:9-10).
It is proper to consider that the entire universe is as nothing in comparison to the weight of God’s glory. May we ever be drawn to that glory and the wonder which it brings.