Friday. The small square on the calendar is empty. No appointments. No job site meeting with my client and the architect. No phone calls to make. No need to leave the house. Empty square days are the days when I can sit in the black leather armchair in the living room for as long as it seems good. These are not ordinary days when my time is cut short by the note in the appointment calendar.

My place of prayer is in this room. My prayers meander and wander prompted by the view out the window, the reading of Scripture, and the reproduction of Rublev’s icon of the Old Testament Trinity painted by my friend, Dan Cassis.1


Sunlight coming into the room illuminates the gold-leaf background of the icon catching my attention. This will be the way into prayer. The three angelic figures are rendered in a soft roundness rather than a stern style. Their posture, gaze and gesture suggest reverence and graciousness. It is as if I am standing in the foreground included in the painting – the result not so much of the reverse visual perspective but from a sense of invitation.

I enter the scene by taking my place at the table. In the silence that isn’t silent I hear the holy conversation. In this Divine Fellowship each person has a warm regard for the other. They seem to prefer one another. The conversation is lively and animated. I hear laughter, questions, reflections — all recognizable but without words. I am no outsider on this empty square day for I sense how keenly interested each one is in the details of my day. My body relaxes as one does in the warmth of familiar friendship. 

The table is set. I take my place across the table from the Christ figure. There is an intimacy in the face-to-face encounter and I sense in my heart a stillness that gradually gives way to a longing for a deeper experience with Jesus. This is Jesus. He is my strength and my song, the source of all life and joy. I am aware of the chalice on the table. With Jesus I can be transparent and vulnerable. This is a safe place. It is the communion table.

The visual images give way to the words in Luke’s gospel. For a few moments it seems as if I am standing off to the side and watching Jesus as he tells Simon Peter to cast his nets into the deep sea. Simon obeys. I smell the salty sea air and I think about how tired and discouraged Simon must be after fishing all night. He washed his nets; the long hours of work ended. He will need to do this all over again — wash the nets. Do I have that kind of confidence in Jesus, I ask myself? Do I respond with the kind of reverence and awe and obedience that I see in Simon?

My focus returns to the icon. Reverence and majesty — that is what the icon conveys through color and form. I turn to look at the person on my left with the same reverence and awe that I see in the other two at the table. As I fix my eyes on the figure in the icon that represents God the Father, my heart prays the breath prayer given to me years ago. 

FATHER….FATHER….FATHER
Faithful Friend…
Almighty God…
Trustworthy and True…
Holy, Holy, Holy…
Ever loving, Ever giving…
Rock Eternal.

Interwoven into the breath prayer are times of silence. My mind wanders and so do my eyes. I look again at the table. It seems as though there is room at the table for all who will come. Gratitude wells up inside of me for family and friends, colleagues and mentors. I picture each one coming to the table with me…Sidney, Kathleen, Sue, Juanita, Roger and Glandion on and on the list goes. I pray for each one – counting it a high privilege to be seated at the table with them. In my prayers I rediscover how much I value hospitality and fellowship and the gift of community. 

The chalice is on the table. For me, I wonder? Perhaps the Psalmist gives me the answer when he writes, 

Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. — Psalm 111: 3 – 5

This day is for the gifts of God — color, light, taste, music, the bird singing outside the window — the goodness of creation. The chalice represents the gifts of grace and mercy. It is a visible reminder that God’s measureless, boundless love is personal and can be seen all around me. I am deeply reminded to be attentive to what God is doing and respond in obedience and gratitude.

This is a day for gratitude. To live out the day – this empty square day — with a grateful heart and a sense of participation in the Divine that comes from belonging to God and to his family. I remember the words of Thomas Kelly and think to myself, This is the kind of life I want.”

The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child. It is the life and power in which the prophets and apostles lived. It is the life and power of Jesus of Nazareth, who knew that when thine eye is single thy whole body is full of light” (Luke 11:34).” —Thomas Kelly

Reprinted by permission of Conversations Journal. This piece first appeared in Conversations Journal, Issue 10.1, Spring/​Summer 2012.

[1] Diamantis Cassis painted icons in the Byzantine tradition following the historic structure and symbolism in order to communicate the truth of the faith. The reproduction follows Rublev’s composition, however, there are subtle differences in the Cassis icon and Rublev’s icon of the Old Testament Trinity. The icon can be viewed at the following website: www​.byzan​ti​ne​icons​by​cas​sis​.com

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

· Last Featured on Renovare.org July 2021

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