Icons of the True

from Walking on Water, Ch. 2 p. 23-24

An icon is a symbol, rather than a sign. A sign may point the way to something, such as: Athens – 10 kilometers. But the sign is not Athens, even when we reach the city limits and read Athens. A symbol, however, unlike a sign, contains within some quality of what it represents. An icon of the Annunciation, for instance, does more than point to the angel and the girl; it contains, for us, some of Mary’s acceptance and obedience, and so affects our own ability to accept, to obey.

Francis of Assisi says that “in pictures of God and the blessed Virgin painted on wood, God and the blessed Virgin are held in mind, yet the wood and the painting ascribe nothing to themselves, because they are just wood and paint; so the servant of God is a kind of painting, that is, a creature of God in which God is honoured for the sake of his benefits. But he ought to ascribe nothing to himself, just like the wood or the painting, but should render honour and glory to God alone.”

What an interesting way to consider symbols versus signs. A symbol carries with it some quality of what it represents, and does not merely point the way to something. When we behold a symbol, an icon, we hold that which is represented by the symbol in mind. We don’t consider the materials that are used in the symbol, all honor goes to the symbol that is portrayed, rather than the materials the icon is comprised of.

Likewise, we as servants of God, are like icons – God is honored through us. We should not credit to ourselves honor and glory, but rather should render all honor and glory to God. In this way, we are merely the wood and paint, representing God, and to God goes all the honor.

The Black Thing

Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything. Euripedes

Reassuring words from Mrs. Who, who speaks in quotes.

I find myself going back to this part, over and over. Mrs. Whatsit is explaining that Charles Wallace knows and understands how serious things are, what is at stake – far more than just the life of his and Meg’s father. But Mrs. Who, who speaks primarily in quotes because it is easier than finding her own words, reassures the group by quoting Euripedes.

Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything.

Nothing is hopeless. While we still breathe, and strive for things, nothing is hopeless. But far from just hoping things work out, or that we manage to survive, or the bare minimum happens, we should ‘hope for everything.’

Hopelessness is like the Black Thing, so dark that it blocks out even the stars. How can we function when we cannot even see? Hopelessness is paralyzing.

Our hoping, our striving, is what can make the difference. If we hope for everything, we have optimism and a sense of purpose and are aiming high. It’s this hope that pushes us forward, pushes us through the hard stuff.


I am reading A Wrinkle in Time for the first time in decades. When I was young and reading it for the first time, I was reading it to just “read the story.” Now, however, I read books looking for lessons, regardless of whether the author intended a particular message to be gleaned.

Walking on Water

I’m a member of a wonderful reading group online, and being a member has really challenged me to increase my personal reading and personal scholarship. For the month of February I am reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle.

Having only ever read her works of fiction, this book selection is revelatory. This book delves into the relationship between art and the act of creating, and our faith in the Creator.

As I read, I find myself nodding along and writing down select lines. I will share them, along with any other thoughts as I progress through the book. I’d love to hear feedback if you are also reading, or have read, this book.