A Gathering of Saints

see All Saints Day

I love my study! My desk (a wooden drafting board) faces into the room. Two walls of windows fill the room with light. From my desk I look into the woods. Books line the other two walls, floor to ceiling.  I have a small couch, two easy chairs, a table with my printer and projects on it, some icons, lace curtains, colorful fabrics, and then (an irresistible reference to The Big Lebowski) a rug pulls the room together, as The Dude says.

Among the icons, the “White Angel” points away from my gaze when I walk into the room (“He is not here. He is Risen”). The Transfiguration, the Ascension, the San Damiano Cross, Mary Magdalene, all offer me strength and sense of continuity of time and purpose. In fact, I just noticed that on one wall “the white angel” points to his right, and directly across from him John the Baptist points to HIS right. So if I were ever really really bored I could follow with my eyes and just keep spinning around the room in circles all day. “He’s not here, look that way.” “He’s coming, look that way.”

On one wall a loving display of hermits and monastics, old friends like Francis, Anthony, Romuald, Benedict, John the Baptist and Mary, represent my love of solitude. An icon of St. Xenia helps redeem memories of a broken, unhappy marriage. Leaning up against the printer, the Sinai Jesus looks at me continually.

When I work, I face the wall of built-in bookcases. The middle shelf of the middle panel is a sort of niche dedicated to icons and other treasures. When I look up from my desk I see Carmelites (Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, Edith Stein, Therese of Lisieux), Angela de Merici (to remind me of education ministry and children), Elizabeth The New Martyr (to remind me of war), Andrew (because of a dream early in my conversion), Seraphim of Sarov (because of a dear friend), and Elijah against part of a broom plant from the Negev desert.

St. Anne, Jesus’ grandmother and Jesus as a child sleeping remind me of family. Holy Guardian Angel keeps me aware of my own guards and guides. And I keep some other treasures on that shelf: some shells from Lebh Shomea, a desert retreat in Texas, some bark from the mountain of Mary Magdalene’s cave in the south of France, a small model of a polar bear from a time of ministry when I felt cornered and endangered to remind me not to get into those kinds of situations again, and a little booklet made by an artist friend. Oh, and a hazelnut (for Julian’s image of the world inside the palm of her hand.)

It isn’t that the study is cluttered with icons. Some are very small. But all have meaning. And I do feel surrounded by the help, care, guidance, inspiration of the unseen presences of the communion of saints. The icons symbolize a supernatural reality.

Once, Sister Elise came to visit me. She looked at the titles of my books and at the icons. Commenting on the wisdom and inspiration surrounding my work space she said, “Well, Suzanne. You don’t have any excuses!”

Sister Elise telling me I don't have any excuses...

One Response to “A Gathering of Saints”

  1. claire Says:

    Thank you for sharing your room with us, your books, your icons and your saints 🙂 It sounds like a beautiful space, filled with Spirit and love 🙂
    Happy Saints’ Day!

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