Icon corners are places in the home where Orthodox come to pray and where we keep our holy things. Husband and I have our icon corner in the corner of our room, but I knew that I also wanted a special icon corner for little daughter.
Making her an icon corner meant for her was important to me from two perspectives:
From the spiritual perspective I wanted her to know that prayer and our faith is central and important to our lives. This meant that we needed a space where it was easy for us to come together daily to pray. And she needed to have her own space to keep her holy things and to feel comfortable coming to talk to God.
From a practical perspective I wanted her to be able to have icons and books at her height, so she could see them regularly. I also wanted it to be accessible so she didn’t need to be held to reach her icon corner.
Our existing icon corner contained a bookshelf that was overflowing with books, icons, and more books. As the arrival of our daughter was approaching (I believe this is called the nesting phase) I started to prepare her icon corner. After finding a new home for many materials I was left with a empty lower shelf. It was perfect!
Then came the decisions about what to put on her shelf. There is a fine line between providing your child with holy materials so they can learn and providing your child with holy materials that they will damage.
This is what we currently have in daughter’s icon corner, and it’s stayed pretty much this way from birth.
Books & Bibles. We have a small selection of Orthodox children’s books and two children’s Bibles. I know this collection will grow through the years, so I will probably end up rotating the books, so there are a manageable amount on her shelf.
Icons, big & small. As husband and I ended our time as youth advisors we were gifted a large icon of Christ with the little children. This seemed the perfect addition to daughter’s icon corner, and it’s so large that she doesn’t try to move it. We also have several little icons that she could feel a connection with: a folding cardboard diptych of Christ and the Theotokos, a tiny wooden one of the Theotokos and Christ, and a small one of St. Stylianos (a saint for children!).
A cross. I think we found this hand-sized wooden cross at a monastery; it has been perfect for teaching daughter how to kiss the cross.
A nun peg doll. I love the Orthodox peg dolls; we found this one at a monastery, but they are also available on Etsy.
Our icon corner is in the corner of our bedroom, which is right next to daughter’s room; this has made it simple to incorporate into our routine each day. I’ve said prayers with daughter each morning at her icon corner from when she was very little, and couldn’t crawl away. We created a small routine around our prayers: we pray for our family and say my favorite morning prayer together, then we kiss our icons and cross, and begin our day!
Our morning prayer routine hasn’t really changed over her lifetime, but she has changed! She used to be so tiny she would just sit in my arms, then she could crawl around, and now she is very busy and usually holding all the icons and her nun and picking out books. Sometimes she is loud the entire time I’m saying prayers. Sometimes she won’t come over to pray immediately and I wait for her. But because this a practice we try to follow every day she knows that it is what we do; most mornings she usually runs to her icon corner when I say “time to pray!”