John, angel of the desert

Angel of the Desert 1

Angel of the Desert by Olga Dytyniak

I cannot look into the eyes of an icon for weeks at a time without forming a personal, loving relationship with the source of that image.  In this case John the Baptist.  If I were to play a game and choose one person that I could be in the bible, either old or new testament, it would be John.  John was an enigma.   Simultaneously a free spirit and bound to the task God had assigned for him.  You might say he was the original hippie; going into the hills to live, not caring about the clothes he wore or the food he ate.  What mattered to John was the preparation of the people for the arrival of the Savior by asking them to turn away from sin and turn their hearts toward good–toward God.

John was humble.  John was a man free from himself, free from fear of the opinions of  others, free to direct all his energies to the one he came to announce, free for God.

The titles by which the Church has addressed John highlight the many dimensions of his life and ministry:  Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word.

Wow.  I would be John.

In the end, John was beheaded.  By King Herod.  Hmmm…where have we heard that name before?  It seems old Herod divorced his first wife and then married his brother’s wife, and John let the old king have it.  Well, this didn’t sit too well with wife number two, Herodia. One night when Herodia’s daughter Salome danced before the king and his guests Herod in his drunkenness promised to give her anything she desired . When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison.  John’s life was ended.

Still, I would be John.  A true icon.

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About Olga Dytyniak

artist, librarian poet, byzantine icon painter, perennial student. Join me on
This entry was posted in byzantine iconography, musings, Orthodox Christianity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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