THE DORMITION: AN ICON FOR THE SUMMERTIME
When our daughter was very young, the first icon she could recognize was the remarkable icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God. While versions vary, the central image shows Christ holding a tiny figure in His arms - the figure of the soul of His beloved Mother, at her falling asleep.
The Church has always recognized that the Mother of God had an extraordinary end of her life. Rather than the physical pain of death we experience, she was granted a death unencumbered by the effects of the fallen world - fatigue, fear, and suffering.
Rather than the spiritually sobering sight of the angelic powers - both the angels of God and the fallen angels that we can see and hear once we leave our bodies, the Mother of God was blessed to stand before the throne of her Son, Whom she loves, and Who loves her as only a child can love his mother.
It was this image that touched the heart of our daughter: the fact that Christ loves His Mother, and that He was there for her at her most vulnerable moment, the moment of her repose. Like the reverse of the icons we often see where the Mother of God holds Christ as a child, now we see Him holding her, like a babe in His caring arms.
It is providential that the feast of the Dormition falls in the summertime, when vacationing, barbecues, visiting friends, and day trips often lead us to forget about God. Despite the increased spiritual hazards and temptations of summertime, how easily we step away from God at our most spiritually vulnerable moments.
The feast of the Dormition reminds us that however much we neglect Christ, He does not forget us, He calls us to wake up - to truly awaken our heart to Him, and to turn and return to His caring embrace. He calls us to give up being "busy", and to return to being Christians.
As we face a thousand distractions throughout this summer, let us resolve to actually do what Christ asks us to do - to return to Him, in holy services, and in prayer. His arms, like the arms of His Mother, are wide open and waiting.