All posts by GretchenJoanna

About GretchenJoanna

Orthodox Christian, widowed in 2015; mother, grandmother. Love to read, garden, cook, write letters and a hundred other home-making activities.

Our hearts soar at Ascension.


A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs throughout the world shall ring;
By a new way none ever trod
Christ mounteth to the throne of God.

The apostles on the mountain stand, —
The mystic mount, in Holy Land;
They with the virgin mother, see
Jesus ascend in majesty.

The angels say to the eleven:
“Why stand ye gazing into heaven?
This is the Saviour, this is He!
Jesus hath triumphed gloriously!”

They said the Lord should come again,
As these beheld him rising then,
Calm soaring through the radiant sky.
Mounting its dazzling summits high.

May our affections thither tend,
And thither constantly ascend,
Where, seated on the Father’s throne,
Thee reigning in the heavens we own!

Be thou our present joy. Oh Lord!
Who wilt be ever our reward;
And, as the countless ages flee.
May all our glory be in Thee!

-Bede (c. 672/3 – 735)
Translated by Elizabeth Charles

Novgorod, 15th century.

The clarity of early morning.


Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget—I kept saying—that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago—
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef—they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

-Czeslaw Milosz, 2004




Drinking the meadow with Heidi.

Our women’s book group read Heidi recently, and then met on the patio at church one evening to talk about the book. There were ten or twelve of us, and we ate pizza and drank wine together, too. But before any of that, we were served fresh goat cheese made nearby, to connect us via our taste buds to our beloved protagonist; it put us in the right mood. And then — goat milk fresh from that morning! Some of our party didn’t want even a taste, so I drank a couple extra shot glasses myself. It tasted like a Swiss mountain meadow.

This reading of the book was for me by means of an audio recording, and I can’t remember the picture on the cover of the book we gave our daughter long ago, which she keeps. When I searched for a picture, I noticed the lack of depictions of Heidi as she is described in the story, with black hair. I guess illustrators (and movie directors, too) tend to think Swiss = blond.

I read that “thirteen English translations were done between 1882 and 1959” from the German of the original, and “about about 25 film or television productions of the original story have been made.” We talked a little in our gathering about the movies we have seen and how they aren’t faithful to the book, and typically leave out any reference to prayer.

In Switzerland tourists can visit Heidiland, where one of the associated villages was renamed “Heididorf.” I wonder if visitors there can drink fresh goat’s milk, from the morning’s milking? I bet at least one of my readers has that experience at your own kitchen table. Cheers!