Flowery and Bright Week

When I walked up to the open doors of the church this evening of Bright Thursday, the flower scents streamed out and welcomed me to Paschal Vespers. Inside, the altar doors are wide open all this week, and after the service the decorated bread called Artos was placed before them. It stays in the church all through Bright Week, representing our risen Lord, the Bread of Life. This Sunday we will cut it up and eat it together.

Pots of lilies and bouquets are all over the place, and many icons are draped
with flowers carefully and lovingly arranged.

I want to back up and show you some scenes from Pascha, starting with the midnight service and our procession around the property, after which we arrived back inside the church to sing “Christ is risen!” by means of many words and melodies. We did this for a few hours, ate our joyous agape meal, and got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.

I was battling a cough that kept me from many services last week, but I managed to come back for Bright Monday Liturgy. This service always has a lighter and sweeter tone than Pascha, perhaps from the daylight that warms our bodies and reveals the beauty of the church. And of course, we are rested a bit, and not so wired as we were Saturday night.

Tuesday I drove a couple of hours to “Silicon Valley,” to attend the funeral of a dear uncle. I spent that night with an old friend, and we walked in the afternoon along the Guadalupe River Trail, a refreshing green space in the middle of urban and suburban sprawl.

Hummingbird Sage
Flannel Bush

Wednesday I was heartened to spend some time with my husband’s cousins and pray at the grave of a man of prayer. He had included me and my family in his prayers for decades.

Now I am back home, and taking care of my garden again.
Flowers are bright here, too, of course!

Christ is risen!
Indeed He is risen!

15 thoughts on “Flowery and Bright Week

  1. Yes, He is – it’s wonderful!! I will have to look up flannel bush – it’s pretty, and I hadn’t heard of it. That’s beautiful country you were going through.

    I can see how so much ritual in your faith can help to carry the members along with the seasons of the church. I wish we Roman Catholics could get back to something like that – I pray it! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The flannel bush is just lovely! I’ve not seen one before.

    I do love the symbolic bread and that after a time it is shared among your congregation. Thank you for sharing this time. Saddened to read that the cough persists. I will join you with prayers for a speedy recovery! So glad you have had a refilling week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Bright Week.” Great name! I can see its presence in your photographs, Gretchen — from cut flowers and candles in the dark to the rites of spring. Even the artos is bright with symbols of nature (if my vision is accurate).

    I like your succinct description of the lengthy service, how you sang in the Resurrection ” . . . by means of many words and melodies. We did this for a few hours, ate our joyous agape meal, and got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.”

    Nearly exhausted with joy. I hadn’t experienced that in Western Christian churches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just read your comment again years later, Albert, and chuckled quite a bit at the contrast you noted between the length of the service and that relatively short sentence by which I described it. 🙂

      Today, I am only imagining that service that will be a week from tonight, wondering how it will go this time… Until today I had been thinking I would skip the agape meal this year and get another hour of sleep instead. But I changed my mind this morning when I got such a dose of Lazarus Saturday grace that I feel hopeful of more upcoming!

      May this Holy Week be strengthening to your spirit, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is already. I went to the all night vigil this evening,

        but blessedly it didn’t last all night. My Dear says I’m too old and weak-eyed to be out all night anyway, so I’ll have to forgo the strengthening experience of the Pascha service next Sunday.

        I first attended one nine years ago, or was it eight. I arrived at 10:00 p.m. and didn’t get home until around 4:00 a.m. At the break-fast meal after the liturgy, a friend who grew up in Georgia told me about the wondrous memory of hearing all the church bells tolling into the early hours, and staying up through dawn visiting with family and friends. It’s disappointing to miss all that, but comforting to know that I’m incluced, we’re all included, all over the world in that celebration.

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  4. Christos Anesti!

    Your eloquent description of Orthodox Christian Easter at your parish is delightful to read, even though we have just experienced the very same ceremonies here, in our little village in Greece. It makes me so appreciate that our faith is practiced so lovingly and faithfully around the world.

    Sorry to hear about your dear uncle. I’m sure he will be missed.

    What pretty landscapes you ventured through, with wildflowers paving your way. I have never heard of flannel bush, it looks interesting. Your own flowers are flourishing; enjoy their debuts!

    Hope your cough has subsided, dear Gretchen; be well!

    Happy weekend to you,
    Poppy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. He is risen indeed! I’ve wondered how people in the southern hemisphere celebrate Easter when it’s not spring, and no burst of color in the gardens and landscape to look forward to.

    Also, I’d photographed a fremontia a few weeks ago in Cambria, not realizing it’s also called flannel bush.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! The Artos is so beautiful. I have not seen this tradition in the church I attend. But what a wonderful way to remember what it’s all about.

    Liked by 1 person

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