Category Archives: church

Nothing of all these exists anymore.

Today we celebrate the Veneration of the Holy Cross, “planted” like a tree in the middle of Great Lent for our refreshment and encouragement, and as a foretaste of Pascha. We haven’t completed our Lenten labors, but the fatigue of them is lightened by the joyous hymns of this feast, such as this from Matins:

“Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they behold their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receiving veneration: for Christ, as holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high.”

This quote from the shining Mother Gavrilia also reflects that joyful mood:

gl-sunlight-wikipedia-330px-the_sun

“Think and see only the Light. Everything else is irrelevant and should not affect you in any way… By reliving regrettable incidents of the past, you cause much harm to yourself… We should take all our sorrow and place it at the Feet of Christ. Because He suffered on the Cross for our sins, and for our sorrows, and for our problems, and for all the gloom of our souls. For everything! And when you remember that the Blood of our Lord is cleansing us from everything, that’s the end of it! Nothing of all these exist anymore… Place them at the Feet of Christ… and then go forth as a joyful person.”

~Mother Gavrilia, The Ascetic of Love

Pruning and flower-arranging.

It felt like a miracle last week that I was able to join with two men to prune grapes in the church vineyard. Yay, I’m not totally decrepit yet! There weren’t enough of us to make much of a dent in the work, but I do believe that every little bit helps. Several planned vineyard work days had been cancelled because of rain; it will be a challenge to get the other fifteen rows done…and more rain is in the forecast 🙂

 

Even some of the healthy vines had lichens on them.

 

 

Inside the church, the altar cloths and vestments have been changed to purple for Lent. You might remember the pink camellia on the church property that I took a picture of last month; we also have red ones that the “flower ladies” used in a brilliant way!

I just roam.

gl-prodigal-son-paintingWe Orthodox have come to the Sunday of The Prodigal Son, one of the weeks preparing us for Great Lent. Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, is so central to the faith that we not only have the 40 days of preparation for the feast which constitute Lent, but we have a month of Sundays preparing us for the preparation. It’s all good.

I loved this poem on the subject by Romanian Fr. Dumitru Ichim. The phrase I took from it for the title of this post, “I just roam,” reminds me of words in an Orthodox prayer: “Always I am fleeing and no consolation have I….”

Lent is our opportunity to repent of running to and fro, “always fleeing” and distracted from our purpose. Sometimes the beginning of the journey back home is made in the pain of darkness and hunger, but “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

THE PRODIGAL SON

“The fog slowly is rising around here:
Father, it’s dark, I’m taken by fear!”
“Why? Can you no longer see the road home?”
“My light and my heart are worn; I just roam;
All bridges are broken, impossible,
Because I love myself… the prodigal.
The fog slowly descends from the mountain
Cunningly, to the mill, to the fountain…
Do I just seem to hear the cranes singing?”
“The clouds deceive you: fog they are bringing…”
“Where are you Father? You are a rock beyond choice
And closer to me than my very own voice.
The silence is painful, but I still shout to you!
I am hungry of you, and I’m very cold, too!”

-Fr. Dumitru Ichim, translated by Octavian Gabor

St. Simeon, St. Bridget, and my sweet flower.

daphne-eve-of-presentation-17Today was the first time that the daphne scent got my attention all on its own, as I came back from errands and was unlocking my front door. Before today, I had to kneel down on the mulch and get my nose right up to it, but now there are more blooms, and they are more fully opened. If the weather warms up a bit that should make them even more noticeable.

This highly aromatic plant was introduced to me my a neighbor when I was in labor of childbirth with my daughter Pippin – Gayle brought me a vase of the flowers that were in bloom then, around Valentine’s Day, and the sweetness in the air highlighted the divine atmosphere that I always feel when we are waiting to meet a new baby.

I always understood that daphne is hard to grow in our area. I don’t remember why that is, but I never attempted it. Then last summer Landscape Lady suggested it for this spot in my front garden, and I was thrilled at the possibility. Originally we thought to have a whole row of them under the living room window, but her fellow designer cautioned against that much investment in a risky business, so I just have the one. And it is healthy and making lots of flowers so far!

I’m posting it here in honor of Saint Bridget of Ireland, whose feast this is, but also for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, which is tonight/tomorrow — and also for dear Saint Simeon who took Jesus in his arms and knew immediately that He was the Christ. The Lord had told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen The Lord’s Anointed, so as he was cradling his infant Savior he said, “Lord, now let Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a Light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

It’s one of my favorite feast days.