Icons of Natalia Rusetska are witnesses of light. It has started with her first personal exhibition entitled BEFORE YOURSELF (2013) in the Iconart gallery of contemporary sacred art that was about the bright light of God's Glory; then there was PARADISE (2014), as a hopeful response to the dramatic events in Ukraine in 2014; then – FOOD FOR THE SOUL (2015) and its miniature, light-filled visions from the lives of God and saints, and finally the project AGAPE - FROM THE CREATION TO THE SALVATION (2017) in which Natalka managed to capture the key moments of history of God's world with her attentive "eye", and in it - the heavenly blue, the shimmer of nature and the clarity of God's presence, which organize and stitch together human existence, make it possible to see the true love of God, which the Apostle Paul said about: Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13, 1-8)
2023 year. The war of Ukraine against russian occupiers continues, they break into our lives, try to ruin our families, demolish our homes. Destroy our world. Darkness seems to fill everything around. It is no longer just a symbol; we really seem to see every squama of that universal all-encompassing aggressive evil. Still, we struggle, we search for space, color, light, we need support, and we continue to break through that hellish circle...
That's why I rejoiced to see the icons prepared by Natalia Rusetska for the project ON DARK BACKGROUND (2023). Rejoicing, because beside the presence of darkness, "eye" of Natalia remained the lamp of the body, and she carefully visualizes it in her icons. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23).
I am thankful her for that bright piercing observation, with the help of which we, as in 2014, can look for support in the faces of holiness, exclaiming like the prophet Daniel: Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Dan. 12, 3).
When I look at the star-lit beautiful face of the holy martyr Barbara, who after severe torture was executed for her own convictions; when I see the prophet Ilya in a fiery chariot, who, thanks to God's power, survived a famine, and being alone he fought against a hundred idolaters; when I look at the warriors - George, who without hesitation comes by himself to the defense of the whole city and defeats a seemingly invincible beast, and Theodore, who remains faithful and full of hope even in captivity; when in front of me "glow" the faces of the holy martyrs and doctors Kosmos and Damian, who saved people and animals from horrible illness without waiting for a reward... then my heart fills with gratitude and the awareness that today we live among the saints, that God is among us - both in suffering and in grace. He is full of determination, surrounded by the heavenly host, enveloped in transparent heavenly glory, decorated with an evergreen crown of eternity, and the darkness is only a background against which the faces of holy people stand out even more clearly, their thin and strong figures are delicately outlined, their heroic deeds shine brighter, and in my head unconsciously begin to sound the lines of the psalm, which we have been saying so often during the last ten years in Ukraine:
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Ps. 91)