Wonder-Working Icon Works Wonder
The return to Russia of the Icon of Our Lady of Smolensk the Hodygitria (Guider), which was stolen ten years ago, was marked with a miracle. When it was taken from London to Moscow by air, a storm warning was issued. A thunderstorm with a hurricane wind pulled out trees. The airliner carrying the icon could not land. The staff was prepared for an emergency landing and evacuation of the passengers at Sheremetyevo-2 airport, the Zhizn (Life) daily writes on Tuesday. The pilots made the final round over the capital. Suddenly the downpour stopped, the wind abated and the sun began to shine. Everybody on board was certain that the Mother of God prevented the death of the people.
The icon had been put in the cabin, not in the luggage space, though its largeness did not permit it. Aware of a miracle-working icon packed in the box, passengers came to it and touch it with prayer,
[…] The Hodygitria of Smolensk is considered to be one of the oldest icons from the icon-screen of Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Ustyuzhna near Vologda. It was glorified as a miracle-working icon as far back as the 15th century. It was reputed to save Ustyuzhna from the Polish-Lithuanian invasion 1608 and was glorified throughout Russia.
(From Interfax, 01/24/2006)
There was a time in my life when I would have just laughed at this. That time passed quite some time ago. For a recovering materialist like me, the reality of the presence of God is usually most evident in hindsight. With age, I’ve accumulated a lot more of that hindsight.
Was this a miracle, or just a coincidental clearing of the weather? Is a coincidental clearing of the weather any less miraculous than an apparition of the Blessed Mother? Is there really any meaningful use for the word “coincidence” in a Christian worldview? Can God work through icons? If not, then on what rational basis can I claim that God works through the equally material agencies of human thought or musculature? Heck if I know. Heck if I will know this side of the grave.
Had I been on the plane, I’d be saying a prayer of thanksgiving myself, and perhaps offering a bit of hyperdoulia before the icon.
In the immortal words of Caedmon’s Call:
I've begged you for some proof
For my Thomas eyes to see:
A slithering staff, a leperous hand,
And lions resting lazily;
A glimpse of your back-side glory
And this soaked altar going ablaze.
But you know I've seen so much;
I explained it away…
(From Shifting Sand, by Caedmon’s Call (1999), 40 Acres)