29 June 2005

finger paints

Last night I was helping Claire do some finger painting. At one point I was fiddling with a paper of my own considering what I might create, when Claire slapped her two paint-covered hands onto the paper, leaving a pair of purple handprints behind, some smudges of red and yellow streaming from the fingertips.

I had read some stories from the Desert Fathers as a kid and one of them immediately sprang to mind looking at the prints:

Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph in the desert and said: "Father, as best I can I keep my little rule: I fast, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and I purify my thoughts. Now what else should I do?"

The elder stood up and stretched up his hands towards heaven. His fingers turned into ten tongues of flame and he said: "Why not become all fire?"

It is an interesting fact that while the great saints of the West have a tendency towards such manifestations as the stigmata, in the East they glow with light or fire instead, which is probably a function of the piety: meditation upon bloody crucifixes and stations of the cross as opposed to icons of the transfiguration and resurrection.

In any case, I found myself dabbing paint with my fingertips, turning Claire's handprints into a picture of Abba Joseph, hands outstretched, with rays of fire blazing from them. So far, my daughter doesn't think I'm too weird.