The Word came to Zachariah.

Not since I was a teenager have I given much attention to the message of the Prophet Zachariah. Our youth group studied the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament with the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in my little town. I remember nothing specific about Zachariah, and I doubt that our course material included learning that he is called “The Sickle-Seer.”

His feast day is today, so I read a little by and about this servant of God who was born in Babylon, was called to be prophet at a young age, and died around 520 B.C.

“The Book of the Prophet Zachariah contains inspired details about the coming of the Messiah (Zach 6:12); about the last days of the Savior’s earthly life, about the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem on a young donkey (Zach 9:9); about the betrayal of the Lord for thirty pieces of silver and the purchase of the potter’s field with them (Zach 11:12-13); about the piercing of the Savior’s side (Zach 12:10); about the scattering of the apostles from the Garden of Gethsemane (Zach 13:7); about the eclipse of the sun at the time of the Crucifixion (Zach 14:6-7).” oca

He is known as the “Sickle-Seer” because of a vision described in the fifth chapter of the Book of Zachariah, in which he saw a sickle flying through the air, destroying thieves and liars. I notice that most translations call this not a sickle but a scroll, but it’s easy to see why the Septuagint text might be correct about the word, as a sickle would be more effective at destroying the sinners than a scroll, as this page explains.

Commenting on the first verse of the book, “In the eighth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Addo the prophet….,” the Orthodox Study Bible notes:

“The identity of the prophet and the time of the prophecy are not merely historical references, they are eternally significant because the revelation of God came to Zechariah at this time.

The word of the Lord is an action of God in His graceful self-disclosure. The word of the Lord comes to Zechariah veiled, but when the Messiah comes in Bethlehem of Judea five centuries later, He comes in the flesh. Indeed, the language of the LXX [The Greek Septuagint] here parallels the language used by John to describe the Incarnation (see Jn 1:1-18). The Word who comes to Zechariah is truly the eternal Son of God, the Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who becomes flesh as Jesus Christ.”

How I could muddle those two….

My particular manzanita tree is not bushy, and only briefly ever was, in its youth. It’s always difficult to get a picture of the whole plant; because of its airy form, whatever is growing behind it shows through and you can’t see how beautiful the tree itself is. As I did yesterday, I typically just show parts of it here on my blog. Here is one view from the past:

And here are several other specimens I saw growing in the southern Sierra Nevada:

GL P1020456GL P1020381

As Wikipedia tells us: Manzanita grows in “the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from Southern British Columbia and Washington to Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States, and throughout Mexico. Manzanitas can live in places with poor soil and little water.”

Back in the 80’s when I lived in another town, my horticulturist neighbor took the lawn out of her front yard and planted sixteen manzanita bushes there next to the driveway. I was mightily impressed. The last time I drove by, they were still looking beautiful, at least to my eye, which is accustomed to those twisty, even artsy lines. I know that some of you will remember when I went to a lot of trouble to get a branch of manzanita installed in a corner of my living room.

This may be the best picture so far.

Yesterday when I briefly referred to my own beloved tree, and then posted two pictures from my neighborhood walk of a dramatically different sort of tree I don’t much care for (Atlas Cedar), I didn’t realize how I was making it easy for my readers to get the wrong idea, and when it relates to my favorite, (whom I named “Margarita”) I could not let it go. My late husband and I planted this tree twenty years ago, and you can see a picture of us working on a path just before installing it in my post Changing Views, which tells its history, and shows many images over the years, including of its unusual peeling bark.

Because of the preference of the 105 species and subspecies of Arctostaphylos for dry summers, I have only gravel and succulents under my tree, and hope that she continues to like it here. I tried again to take pictures this morning, and I will finish off with one. (Those are needles of the Canary Island Pine which continually descend to decorate the manzanita like Christmas ornaments.) I’m thankful to have had an excuse to review Margarita’s history for a while this morning, and to tell you once again about my long time friend.

Moon and manzanita.

My manzanita tree started blooming in January; this always surprises me. It remains sweetly dotted with clusters of pink flowers. Underneath, the sundrops have begun to open, too.

[Update: That’s all I wrote about the manzanita. The tree below is an Atlas Cedar, Cedrus atlantica, native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.]

When I took a walk the other morning I passed by this tree (above), and looked more closely than usual. The droopy form doesn’t normally appeal to me, but this time I noticed the scrunchy way the short needles congregated on the branches, and liked that part very much.

Granny Marigold mentioned that tonight was the Snow (Full) Moon. When I saw that on her blog, the sun was still out, so I noted the time of moonrise and set an alarm to remind myself to go look. It was supposed to be “partly cloudy” tonight so maybe I’d see a moon, maybe not…

When I shut the front door behind me, there she was, just rising over my neighbors’ rooftops. I was wearing two wool sweaters, so I stood leaning against my house for a while, because it seemed a shame to say only a brief Hello and go back to closed-in walls. I walked around the front garden a bit. The street light shone down and made sparklelights of the raindrops that remained on the teucrium from today’s earlier downpours.

It occurs to me now that I should have taken a chair out there, so I could have sat a while with the Snow Moon. Though I was all alone, it made me feel close to all my fellow humans who were looking at the moon tonight, or who through the ages have admired her journey up the heavens. The next full moon will be March 7th –I will try to love that one better.

From the Internet

If space is what I want… (update)

It is worthwhile to remember that space
is the most precious and also the most pleasing thing
in a house or room; and that even a small room
becomes spacious if it is not crowded
with useless objects.

-Charlotte Mason

I’ve noticed many quotes in my collections that might pertain to my Project of the Year, which is to accomplish a thorough thinning out and re-ordering of my belongings so as to beautify the indoor landscape, and thereby make it a more peaceful place for me and for my guests. This principle that Charlotte Mason sets down so perfectly may be the Number One, most foundational truth of the vision I have. Maybe space is to the visual sense what quiet is to the auditory. Certainly, if space is what I want, I have to create it, and constantly recreate it. Is this real creativity? I believe it is.

by Carl Larsson

We all know that a busy household such as Carl Larsson was living in, and of which he painted so many elegant scenes, would typically be filled with busy people cooking and sewing, with the children’s toys and the costumes that the woman of the home made for them, and of course, the books, and artwork in process. All of that is contained within my vision, and I understand in my bones how the creative impulse is hindered by clutter physical and mental. I need to begin again and again to carve out more of that most pleasing spaciousness, beautiful in itself, and often unfolding into more and diverse created things. I’m greatly thankful to the Larssons for their coordinated work of Life and Art, which continues to inspire us year after year with its Beauty.

Update to original post: It’s funny how this post about space had accidentally been published, while I slept, with extra space at the end where there was supposed to be more text! I fixed it now….