Benedictory Icons

In 1995 Nancy, a Lutheran Pastor, attended an icon writing retreat under the direction of Sr. Jeanette Serra, a Roman Catholic nun, and Vladislav Andreyev, a Russian Orthodox iconographer. She was deeply moved not only by the beauty of icons and the powerful way they express Christian theology, but also by the diversity of the group and the wonderful richness of different spiritual tradtitions working together to understand and create icons. Over the years icon retreats continued to provide times of spiritual refreshment and a deeper appreciation of iconography as a spiritual legacy largely lost to the Western Christian churches, but carefully and lovingly kept and nurtured in the Eastern Orthodox churches. Setting aside one day each week as a sabbath day of rest and renewal devoted to writing icons, she found that each icon she wrote not only deepened her faith but also wrote its own lessons upon her as she wrote the icon upon the board.After her retirement from parish ministry and Rich’s retirement from military service, they bought a home on Wilson Hill Island in the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York which they named River Respite Benedictory (“place of blessing”).  They set aside the upper floor as a chapel, library, and guest room for clergy and vowed religious, knowing first hand how important it is for clergy to take time away from ministry, and another upper room as Nancy’s icon studio where she continues to write icons as a spiritual practice and joy, as special gifts for friends, and by commission.  She teaches iconography in her studio and also offers  individual week long icon writing retreats.

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