First international course in our new Centre
After the attack on Gaza last summer tourists and pilgrims have fallen away in large numbers. Our recent international courses have been adversely affected and at one point it looked like we would have to cancel the latest icon course at the Emmanuel Monastery. However, in the event, we had two women from the UK (mother and daughter) and a man from Denmark, together with a local participant.
Given the small number, and that the sisters at the Emmanuel monastery were going to be away, we ran the course in the new Centre while the monastery continued to offer accommodation. I was a little worried that it might loose some of its special atmosphere, especially as Marianne was a returning participant. In the event we needn't have worried. Marianne loved the place, found it enchanting and a place 'everyone should know about!'
It certainly made things easier in terms of teaching, with everything on hand. The atmosphere and ambiance of this little bit of Paradise aided the focus and concentration. The space worked very well, with plenty of room for people to spread out a bit and not feel crowded.
We were working on an icon of the Cross in Easter Week, and that in itself brought something deeply spiritual to the time we spent together. We still kept the meditations and short times of prayer, and added the recitation of the Regina Caeli before the icon at the centre of the courtyard. The lecture hall worked well as a chapel.
Despite the weather going from blistering hot to shivering cold students managed some pleasant hours painting in the sunshine, and the climate was manageable enough for successful gessoing boards and water gilding.
Archbishop Zerey, our patron, presided over the blessing of the icons on the Wednesday evening which brought a very quick week to a lovely and blessed close.