Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Skeptic Encounters a Miracle

Today I experienced something rare and blessed.

In general, I am a skeptic of modern day miracles, even within the context of the Orthodox faith I have embraced. I think my Reformed heritage has caused me to approach such claims with pause and a desire to either prove the miracle was a fake or that there was some explanation other than God behind it. The term "miracle" is so overused in modern America and, indeed, all over the world. I think we are right to be skeptical.

Last September, I was introduced to the miracle of the myrrh-streaming icon. Heather showed me pictures on google of these icons that "weeped" myrrh, or some substance like it. These icons are heavily examined before they are revealed to the people. There is no explanation for why myrrh seems to exude from these icons. I can't imagine how it could be faked, although I'm sure it has been. But the ones I saw looked real enough and that actually made a pretty big impression on me.

But still... "I'll believe it when I see it," I thought.

Today, I saw it. There is a rather famous copy of the icon "Mother of God of Iveron" that started to stream myrrh in Hawaii several years ago. This icon is truly rare because it is not even painted- it is a print that is decoupaged onto wood. The icon has been streaming myrrh for over ten years. It is kept in a case so that those who venerate it don't end up kissing oily myrrh. At the end of the services, the icon is taken out of its case and swabbed with cotton or Qtips, depending on who is doing the swabbing. The oily myrrh is then used to bless those who have come to see this miracle.

Although the scent is not so strong now, I still smell of roses.

Here is something I love about the Orthodox Church: miracles like this are not hidden away so that only the privileged few can see them. In a sense, these miracles belong to the people and not just one person. We are the Church, the Body of Christ. We are the keepers of this great heritage, the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. This icon is brought to churches all over the world. The church I visited today is so small that its basically a room in a corporate business park. But the faithful gather week after week to participate in the Divine Liturgy and to receive the Eucharist. And we were all blessed by the Mother of God through this icon.

I have provided a link that tells the story of this icon if anyone is interested: