Tag Archives: calla lilies

Happy as flowers and peeps.

There is not one word for the way so many of us Orthodox feel when we have come to the end of Lent and Holy Week, and are finally standing in church on Pascha night, exhausted, brain dead, dizzy from sleepiness, feeling a little (or a lot) out of whack from keeping strange hours and eating little. Parents of young children have been dealing with toddlers crying from fatigue and their older siblings longing to go to the day’s special service at church.

We wouldn’t have it any other way. We know we need Lent to prepare us to receive the fullness of Resurrection joy, and Holy Week passes so quickly, each of the many services unique in the entire church year. You don’t want to miss one. But – you must; your body is still earthy and not transformed. The whole process seems to be divinely designed to make us feel our utter dependence on Christ Himself to bring us to Pascha, and we are made aware of the bits of extra grace that are as good as blood transfusions for the dying.

I think the sensations are like being on a river, a river of Life. You know you aren’t a good sailor or swimmer, but you also know that God and His Church are the vessel in which you travel, and they will carry you.

In the end, Pascha comes to us, and comes for us, as the hymn exultantly proclaims, “A new and holy Pascha has come for us!” And we hear the homily of St. John Chrysostom once again:

O death, where is thy sting?

O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

We have just about the best choir ever, in my parish, but they are only a few of the voices singing the great song of God’s love and Christ’s victory. This song doesn’t ever stop playing, but it’s at this season of the year we are given the gift of its wake-the-dead resounding in our hearts.

Today at our Bright Monday agape meal, I could tell that even the silly peeps wanted to hop out of their basket, so I brought them home to be a visual kind of bunny song on the windowsill. My garden has been putting on its spring show and until now I haven’t had time to collect all those images here; today I offer a profusion. Still, not nearly as many as our greetings of:

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Patience, with pebbles and a saint.

I have very much enjoyed reading about St. Raphael of Brooklyn whom we commemorate today on the anniversary of his repose in 1915. He was born in Beirut where his parents had fled, because of persecution of Christians in their home city of Damascus, and he spent most of his life going where he was most needed, mostly Russia and America. It is astounding how much he accomplished in his zeal to care for his flock. He was the first Orthodox bishop to be ordained in America, in 1904, and Tsar Nicholas II gifted the new bishop’s vestments.

In those days all the Orthodox in America were together under one heirarch: “There were no parallel jurisdictions based on nationality. The Church united those of diverse backgrounds under the omophorion of the Russian Archbishop. This was the norm until the Russian Revolution disrupted church life in Russia, and also in America.” oca.org

Today is the first day since I returned from India that I feel normal again. While the traveling itself felt easy enough in the 33 hours of moments, the recovery has been a process requiring patience! It took me a week to get to church, and it was a joy to be back there. My goddaughter Mary seems to have grown a lot in two months, in size and maturity. She hadn’t forgotten me. 🙂 And I had one of those experiences I’ve described before, where for about ten minutes the sun shines through a window of the dome at the perfect angle to warm my face and head, and blind me to everything but the candles before the altar, which shine like stars in my momentary darkness.

Saturday I got to see both Pippin and Soldier!! That comforted my heart that was in mourning from the separation from Kate and her family, to whom I had grown so attached in all those weeks of living with them. Some of us spent happy hours on a windy beach that was perfect for the weather because instead of sand it was composed of little pebbles that did not blow into your eyes or stick to your food or skin. We examined hundreds of of the tiniest stones, pieces of white shell or green sea glass, and whole grey-blue mussel shells.

Ivy loves climbing the way her mother also has done from a young age, and these rocks were perfect for scrambling up, and then jumping down into the sand.

It feels cold here in sunny California, compared to winter in smoggy Bombay. I guess I didn’t stay long enough for winter to pass me by altogether; I’m glad I have a woodstove. I did go out in the garden a couple of times and see that in the midst of the chilling wind and dormant gray and brown, many little things are budding and even blooming. Quite a few of them are pink, like the native currants:

If Winter will bring rain, as it’s done today, I’ll welcome it to stay months longer. But perhaps Spring could bring some rain, and let Winter say good-bye?

Callas and Comfort

gl calla bouquet 3-16 P1030732When we broke up and filled in the swimming pool last summer, the surrounding planting beds were also excavated and new dirt was brought in for the new plants to grow in. In one corner where calla lilies had grown for a decade, we put in native California currant bushes.

Then the callas sprouted again, up through the little blooming ribes. I’ve had to go out every few days and yank out perfectly healthy lilies when they start to encroach too closely around the young plants that I am trying to encourage.

One morning last week when my daughters and I were packing up to visit the cemetery and have a picnic afterward, we discussed going to tP1030837he store to buy some flowers to lay on their father’s grave, because I said I didn’t have any flowers in the yard to take.

I suppose I was thinking about how the snowball bush didn’t yet have any flowers ready to pick. Last year at this time it was loaded with flowers, and one reason I did not take out the old thing was that I anticipated having its beautiful blooms to put on my husband’s grave every March. snowballs crp 15

Well, I had forgotten the calla lilies! Brave and hardy plants that keep coming…. We picked plenty to take to the cemetery, and since then have had more in vases in which they seem to fall naturally into elegant arrangements.

As you can see, we had other home-grown flowers to use — a few surviving ranunculus from the front yard, and even a Bird of Paradise from Pearl’s garden. Several freesia blooms were left after their extravagant display a couple of weeks ago. Scout and Ivy helped by decorating their grandpa’s grave, and their father drew us together by reading these words:

gl grave 3-16 P1030745

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Just now I’m reminded of another passage from I Thessalonians, which is also about our togetherness in the Lord (and it ties in nicely with my “C” post):

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.


P1120610When I was young, the only lilies I knew were the ones our Sunday school teacher Mrs. Montgomery would bring into the church at Easter. I thought they must be what people meant when they talked about “Easter Lilies.” Eventually I learned that they were not.

True Easter Lilies still are not very familiar to me, or even appealing. It’s calla lilies that I have known and loved all these years, and that reward me year after year as a gardener, too, for very little investment. I always feel privileged to gather a few elegant blooms into a vase to display in the house. Sometimes they are blooming at such a time that we parishioners can fill the church with them for Palm Sunday, but more often than not, the show is over by then. I might call them my Lenten Lilies.P1120617lilies crp