I received many wonderful gifts this Christmas season and tomorrow I'll post a bit about some of them. Yet it was last night, deep in the Oregon countryside in a small log cabin Russian Orthodox chapel, that I received a very special gift--the memory of which will be with me for quite some time.
Last night I was able to venerate the original Kursk Icon.
The Icon was brought to a ROCOR parish here in Oregon City as it makes its way from Seattle and next week to San Francisco. (A side note of interest: the church the icon was brought to was one Fr. Seraphim Rose of Platina helped start.)
After waiting for 2 hours for the icon to arrive, about 75 local Orthodox people processed into the dark and rainy December night to pack into a cozy chapel. We then corporately prayed a small service of thanksgiving and each of us was given ample time to view and venerate one of the most famous miracle-working icons in Christian history.
During the service the entire chapel began to smell of myrrh and rose petals, yet there was no incense burning.
It was fitting that this blessing would come to us during the celebration of the Nativity and as we look forward to Theophany. As St. Athanasius wrote in his masterpiece, "On the Incarnation", "the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning."
Miracle working icons are a pledge, a sign of that which is both already in our midst but also yet to come-- the total transfiguration and recreation of everything in Christ.