By Joshua Fowler
Only an icon on a cracked, flowered,
wallpapered wall in the priest’s office
slanting to the left, looking like He’s
chewing nails yet wants to put down
that big book and hug me and us all;
but His eyes, His abnormally wide,
gentle brown eyes seem to look in me
and through me then through the dusty pews,
past our old friends painted on the walls,
making the flames of the candles jump
and dance, then out the mahogany doors
through the shacks and alleys, the sewers
and the slums and aisles and aisles
of houses and blocs 2 down the roads
standing crooked and tired.
I like that He isn’t looking upward,
only out into the cracked streets
as if He would walk out of the halo
into our shacks, our alleys, our sewers
and our slums, where He would find us
as we are, as broken demons and fallen saints,
yet wanting to hug us still.
1 Pantocrator, from the Greek for “Almighty,” generally refers to this icon of Christ, which is one of the most widely used images of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. It usually occupies the space in the center of the church, in the dome or on the ceiling. Many Orthodox Christians have this icon hanging in their homes as well.
2 Blocs (blocuri in Romanian) are the apartment buildings that were built during the time of communism in Romania where many Romanians live. Many of us here on staff live in these apartment buildings as well.