Contentment outweighs fatigue.

Partly because of Annunciation this second week of Lent has been as busy as the first. Personal remembrances have given me a lot to do outside of church, too. I didn’t stay home all day even one day in the last seven; normally that kind of activity wears me out, but at the moment the contentment outweighs any fatigue. The outings and events have filled my cup with love and friendship and grace.

For my birthday I tried to perfect the honey-lemon-ginger cake baked in my Nordic honeycomb pan. But I didn’t. The friends I served it to were quite pleased, but to my taste it was doughy. It was vegan and lacked eggs, but those challenges can’t be the whole problem, and I will keep trying, because I’ve had plenty of vegan cakes that were nice. Maybe it needs more baking powder, or less flour. The picture shows it with the honey-lemon glaze poured on.

I also made a big pot of soup for that Friend Gathering. It was one of those unrepeatable concoctions, with most ingredients unmeasured, a vegetable bean soup into which I impulsively threw all the lemon juice that was left over from the cake (which uses a lot of zest). I should have added a little at a time. It made the soup too lemony, but eventually I hit on the idea of adding coconut milk to smooth it out, and that worked very well.

While I was cooking for a couple of days, I kept getting phone calls from children and grandchildren, wishing me a happy birthday. We had long chats that filled me to bursting. Each time I hung up after one of these calls, it would take me a while to reorient myself to the tasks waiting for me.

I am not going to show you all the interesting gifts I received, only this one, which includes a quote. A quoting candle! I hadn’t seen this kind of thing before; in this case the giver picked one of my own favorite quotes to personalize it.

Several hours this week were devoted to prepping vegetables for that soup and just to eat by themselves. The asparagus must be growing 2-3 inches a day, because I have to pick it morning and evening!

This month marks six years since the death of my husband. Bella went to the cemetery with me and my freesias, and at church prayers were offered in his memory. Having so many services to participate in means that the sensory input is laid on in layers day after day, in images of human and botanical beauty, and hymns that melt my heart. Incense is a joy you can’t experience through the computer; that and hugs are rounding out the experience of a worshiping community again.

Waiting for confession.

Today, the day after Annunciation, is given to the commemoration of the Archangel Gabriel, who announced to Mary, “The Lord is with thee!” And in such a way was He with her, that He is also with us, ever since, and unto ages of ages. That fact is of course connected to the message on the candle:

Wherever there is beauty,
Christ the Word is speaking to your heart
of the love the Holy Trinity has for you.

10 thoughts on “Contentment outweighs fatigue.

  1. A bittersweet time for you. What love you seem to be surrounded with – that is wonderful to know. Your birthday sounds a happy one indeed.

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  2. Glory to God! I am thankful to HIm for the comfort He gives our hearts. Love and prayers, dear one, for you and your family here on earth and those in heaven. I know that God is listening to our prayers.

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  3. Beautiful, Gretchen…and a beautiful quote to remind us of the presence and intent of the Trinity. We were also aware of the anniversary and remembered him with love and prayers for you.

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  4. Happy birthday, Gretchen! The cake looks nice, I adore lemon + honey together and the cake pan is delightful. Your lemon tree is laden + heavy! I’m so impressed to hear about your quick growing asparagus. The church is beautiful, as always.

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  5. Interesting that we have the same day for the Annunciation, but other holidays are different. Anyway, a Happy Birthday to you, Gretchen! just a little bit late. 🙂

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    1. It’s Annunciation on the New Calendar, that’s why, and 9 months before Nativity. Orthodox churches that are on the New Calendar for everything else keep to the Old for the Paschal cycle. At least we are together for that Feast of Feasts.

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  6. Belated birthday wishes!! Your birthday falls in a very busy time of the year. The candle and verse on it are so lovely. The asparagus must be delicious. I saw some in the grocery store but it was from Mexico and who knows when it was harvested. I’ll wait for local.
    Your vegan cake looks so beautiful made in that special pan. It must be a challenge to bake an eggless cake.

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  7. I’m with you here on everything but the incense which would send me into horrible bronchospasms! But oh, what a good week. A glorious birthday and wonderful gifts. A pretty cake — I really love that pan. I might have to check that one out! Lovely gifts and each and every photo is a gem. A very happy “new year” to you –may it be as good as your birthday!

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