Category Archives: my childhood

How to become fresh and youthful.

The Paschal season of the Church is preceded by the season of Great Lent, which is also preceded by its own liturgical preparation. The first sign of the approach of Great Lent comes five Sundays before its beginning. On this Sunday the Gospel reading is about Zacchaeus the tax-collector. It tells how Christ brought salvation to the sinful man, and how his life was changed simply because he “sought to see who Jesus was” (Luke 19:3). The desire and effort to see Jesus begins the entire movement through Lent towards Pascha. It is the first movement of salvation.

This excerpt from our church bulletin explains why this date on the church calendar is a good one for someone to become a catechumen, as two people did on Sunday in my parish, and as I did seven years ago. It was not my first introduction to life in Christ, but it was definitely the time when I climbed up to the best vantage point to see Christ and His Church in all its fullness.

When I was a little child in Sunday School I learned some details of the story by way of a song:

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.
And when the Savior passed that way He looked up in the tree;
And He said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today.’

In his gospel homily Sunday our rector pointed out that the Lord also said, “Make haste.” In other words, “Get down here, man! Don’t be dilly-dallying about, but begin right now to mean business with God.” And this week St. Nikolai explains how this man and his experience are meaningful to each of us:

“Today, salvation has come to this house.”
(St. Luke 19:9).

Thus it was spoken by the One Whose word is life and joy and restoration of the righteous. Just as the bleak forest clothes itself into greenery and flowers from the breath of spring, so does every man, regardless of how arid and darkened by sin, become fresh and youthful from the nearness of Christ. For the nearness of Christ is as the nearness of some life-giving and fragrant balsam which restores health, increases life, give fragrance to the soul, to the thoughts and to the words of man. In other words, distance from Christ means decay and death and His nearness means salvation and life.
….
Draw near to us O Lord, draw near and bring to us Your eternal salvation.

Not a single place dark or unhappy.

We have been ill around our house, and could not get going on the Christmas tree project until this week. Now we managed to get it up and decorated.

I cut off our homemade wood-shaving angel in the picture so I’m showing a close-up in the next. Mr. Glad did nearly all the tree-trimming this time, after he went all by himself to get the tree, a Noble Fir grown in Oregon.

 

Anna wrote last week about various Advent and Christmas trees she has known, and it made me want to remember some trees of the past. Her post includes a photograph of a large and dramatic Christmas tree in Norway.

 

I don’t have anything that old, but at right is a picture of me in a red sweater in front of a 1950’s tree. And at the bottom of the page, a little tree that the sister in the photograph gave me more recently. I like best to have birds and fruit and pine cones on my tree, and I never did like tinsel.

The boy at left (now our Soldier) is posing by a tree from a minimalist era, when a friend let us cut from his property a wild and untamed specimen, on which we don’t appear to have strung lights. But how strange and exciting for young children to have a tree in the house for a while, even undecorated.

Below, this year’s tree before trimming, to go with a sweet poem e.e. cummings wrote.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

–e.e. cummings