Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Unforgettable Magic Moment


Have you ever had a magic moment? An experience so sweet and serendipitous it gives you goose bumps. Time slows down and you are transported to another dimension.

Many men say watching their child born was like that. Women are usually too busy at that moment to have that feeling.

I've had some minor ones, like unexpectedly hearing a group of people sing "Non Nobis Domeni" in a large, echoing hall. Electrifying and beautiful.

A magic moment, as expressed by The Drifters in the 1960s comes as a surprise and makes you feel that special something will last forever.

My spectacular magic moment came about first because I saw an encaustic painting by Jasper Johns and read that encaustic was used early in history. I studied it and attempted it...unsuccessfully.
St. Peter the Apostle
7th Century, Encaustic




When visiting my brother Charles in Los Angeles several years ago, on a whim, we went to the Getty Museum, again. As we drove around the long entry road, huge posters blasted notice about the current exhibit. It was Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai.







Virgin and Child with Saints
6th Century, Encaustic
 


These were the oldest surviving icons from the Byzantine world from the remote Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine. These 53 objects had escaped destruction by Byzantine emperors during Iconoclasm of the 700 - 800s. The monks of Saint Catherines cared for them all these centuries - over a thousand years -  and generously allowed them to travel from Sinai for this one exhibit. 







And I was fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time, with information enough, and spirit enough, to be thrilled to the inside of my soul to see this exhibit.

Blessing Christ
Early 6th Century, Encaustic

I walked in humbled awe from icon to icon and artifact to ancient hand-made artifact. I saw the oldest known icon of Christ also painted in hot wax.

Other mediums were displayed as well. Tempera on wood, ink on parchment, engraved metal, mosaic and embroidery. 

I drooled over a rich, gold and silver heavily embroidered red linen damask stole that a 15th century priest once wore in Constantinople or northern Greece.


I admired and coveted the scribes tiny, detailed tempera strokes and gilding on the 12th century elite book, Homilies of Gregory Nazianzenus.


Mosaic Icon of the Virgin Hodegetria
Late 12th Early 13th Century

But my favorite is the mosaic Icon of the Virgin Hodegetria. While it is a common icon pose, the minuscule glass and ceramic pieces are pixel-tiny. I've never seen a mosaic with such tiny pieces. The care it took to arrange each single one is prayer itself. 


I wanted to stay in that exhibit for days and absorb every detail, nuance and ambiance. I couldn't take photographs, so I took mental pictures that I hoped would last me.


This magic moment was momentous for me. My memories had to last til the end of time.