What can be lacking to them?

I became very gl IMG_2996 lily origfamiliar with these lily plants today, without finding out what their name is. I was at church helping to spruce up the large property. These might have waited to be cut back except that their irrigation lines are going to be re-done. So I bent over each of two or three dozen clumps, grabbed the leaves in my fist as though they were a hank of hair, and snip-snip-snipped, and on to the next.

All the while, I could not keep from humming the tune commonly used to sing St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  A few days ago I thought to memorize the words, and as I’ve never been part of a church that sang it I listened on YouTube and wrote the words on 3×5 cards, and sang along quite a bit one afternoon and evening.

Since then I have only managed to look at my cards enough to memorize the first stanza (below), but those lines have filled my heart to overflowing, as the melody plays night and day in my mind, never without those powerful reminders of the fullness of our faith, and the presence of Christ himself in my song.

St Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

gl IMG_2993 church

So, I’ve been humming along with my Companion, as I wash the dishes or take a shower, or dig weeds. I glanced up this afternoon to see a side of the church that I don’t often look at, framed with olive branches and roses, and I had to scrunch down close to the dirt to get a strangely angled picture that takes it all in.

gl IMG_3005 weed

I didn’t have too many weeds to dig – I took this one’s picture because we have them all over the county this year, and I want to see if I can find it in Weeds of the West to learn its name.

The seed pods of the lilies were intriguing to me, with their shiny black and bumpy contents, about to pop out on to the ground. I brought a few home, wondering how hard it would be to get them to sprout…. gl IMG_3001 seeds

gl IMG_2995

So many people were helping out, pruning olives and wisteria, laying irrigation lines, trimming roses. We seemed to be finished by noon, except: the head gardener wanted four more big rosebushes on the other side of the property to be cut back. I had time, so I did them as the last thing. I had to stand in the middle, surrounded by floribundas, and toss the clippings over their heads into a bin outside of the thicket. This was oddly the best time of the whole day, maybe because I knew it was my last task, or maybe because they were such pure and lovely flowers.

Before I got in my car I took pictures of the Japanese Windflowers (or Japanese Anemones), of which we have two colors at church. I am excited to have some in my own new garden at home, but mine haven’t opened quite yet.

gl IMG_3013 windflower

I had planned to post the quote below tonight, and then the flowers and seeds and St. Patrick crowded in, but I think everything goes together pretty well.

How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things which have a bitter end! It is the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes.

Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts, “I will visit in them, and walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself!

~Saint Nektarios of Aegina

16 thoughts on “What can be lacking to them?

  1. A few months ago, I commissioned a marvelous icon of St. Patrick from Agnessa (on Etsy), in Bulgaria: the icon shows snakes conquered underneath his feet, along with a Celtic cross and castle in the background. And of course he has his bishop’s crosier. The colors are bright: blue sky and lots of green, and then red shoes “peeking” out, as our mutual friend, Diane, described it when she saw a photo of the icon.

    It seems to me that along with St. Columba, Patrick is one of the most inspiring figures we English speaking Christians have to look to. The Breastplate is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and a powerful prayer and affirmation of the Faith, as partially written up in this hymn you’ve posted. I pray it frequently using my Anglican rosary (using the full version of it, though.) Lovely post, especially as you connect a Celtic saint with the natural world. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This beautiful and interesting post made me feel refreshed and more serene. Thank you!

    Wonderful blooms – except the weed with the yellow flower. 🙂 Did you find its name? We have many different plants looking like that and I’m not able to identify them.

    Wishing you a blessed new week.

    P.S. Our tomatoes grow in a greenhouse, so the squirrels can’t reach them. In winter they eat for example nuts we give to the birds, and in summer they seem to eat for example… porcini.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t that weed the mountain dandelion?

    Beautiful shot of the church, the olive tree, and the rose. They all remind me of Jesus, the church, the cross, redeeming love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I looked in Weeds of the West and online. I think it is False Dandelion, also called catsear or flatweed, Hypochaeris radicata L. Not all examples of the weed look quite like my sample… some of them look more like dandelions than others! The flower stems are really different; those of catsear are more slender and tall, and the flowers wave prettily in the breeze.

      Also, all parts of the plant are edible but not usually bitter like dandelions. You can read all about it on Wikipedia!

      (Thank you, Jody, for prompting me to get busy identifying!)


  4. We have cats ear in our corner, too, way over here in the Northeast. Do you always trim back the lilies that way? Without any harm to them? Gardeners here allow them to die back totally without trimming lest they die out completely. I hope that you have good success with the seeds…I have wondered about them myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vee, I’m not sure that the lilies would die back completely on their own, because we don’t have very hard frosts in our area. It might not be necessary to cut them back like that, if the irrigation installer hadn’t needed the space opened up, but it won’t hurt them at all.


  5. Very thought-provoking and beautiful quote from Saint Nektarios of Aegina! I’d never heard that one before. Your church looks like a lovely place–how awesome to have olive trees near it…and great that you are helping upkeep the place. Sounds like a lot of hard work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, GJ,

    I consider myself yet a blooming gardener, but I believe those are some sort of dandelion! Forgive me if there are many kinds and I basically identified a “cat” as a “cat” blithely ignoring their pedigree!

    On the lilies … I hope you have marvelous success with the seeds. I love the pods and those darling little black beads which hold their promise tight. Mrs. Waller never cut back her leggy leafed lilies. She kept the dried bits pulled away but tied the green leaves together with, oh phoo, I forget what it’s called! to keep them organized (I’ll send you a pic!) She said the raggedy leaves helped next year’s plant. The Lily was basically all she did… !
    Precious post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, DeAnn, you are a difficult student! 😉 It’s not a matter of pedigree, but of identity. The dandelion is Taraxacum officinale and catsear is Hypochaeris radicata L. I found a great article with clear photos that show the difference. I’m not sure that the plants’ pedigrees are even as closely related as a (dande)LION and a CAT(sear) – they are not in the same genus, but one taxonomic level above that, they are both in the tribe of Cichorieae which is in the family of Asteraceae. So it would be correct to say that they are both a type of Cichorieae, if you know how to say that!

      Thank goodness we don’t have to know what all this means in order to be gardeners ever “blooming” in our skills, and if you had both plants on your property as I do, you would know them as individuals…. Just remember the important lesson here: if your garden fails, you can eat both plants! ❤


  7. I had no idea the lilies have seeds. I have a couple of lilies in my garden, but I never left them long enough to get seeds. Lovely pictures, the flowers are beautiful. x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That prayer is such a beautiful one- I always enjoy singing the hymn based on it but in my new church, we hardly ever sing traditional hymns except the same few. I do miss them.

    Liked by 1 person

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