Tag Archives: camellias

Roused out of dreams.

This morning I attended the lovely Bridegroom Matins of Holy Week, cherished because it uniquely expresses the “bright sadness” of our preparations for the joy and victory of Pascha. In my parish we are able to hold these penitential services early in the morning, at a time when people might be able to attend before going to work. Even on my drive to church I felt the grace of the clear sky, a pre-dawn blue, with a friendly gibbous moon shining down on me.

 

 

Eight years ago after attending this very service I wrote a blog post about laziness, standing up straight, and what it means to be human. Whew! I feel a bit lazier of mind these days, so that I am amazed at all I learned from Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead and from just one chapter of Leon Kass’s book The Hungry Soul. I do often still remember the gist of the lesson, mostly when I am standing in church. If you don’t remember it well, I urge you to read it.

The article focuses on being physically upright, which helps us to be alert and attentive, ultimately to God and His will. It’s not hard to get distracted even in church, but at least we have in the Orthodox services many things to bring us back; for me it’s often necessary every minute or two, as I might simultaneously remember to put my shoulders back again and fix my gaze toward the altar. And especially during this week when we follow Christ to His voluntary sacrifice, our reverent attentiveness is facilitated by prostrating ourselves before God, which, though it is not upright posture, is the opposite of reclining in bed or watching whatever’s on TV.

When we are not in church, our Enemy probably has an easier time helping us to slouch away from Life, his methods so vividly portrayed in C.S. Lewis’s tale of correspondence between devils:

“You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep [your target] from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do…. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say… ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.’”

One theme of Holy Week comes from Christ’s cursing of the barren fig tree, in the days just preceding his crucifixion. We exhort our own souls in the hymns of Bridegroom Matins:

Why art thou idle, my wretched soul?
What useless cares cause thee to be lost in dreams?
Why busy thyself with things that pass away?
The last hour is at hand, and we shall be parted from all earthly things.
Therefore, while there is time, rouse thyself and cry:
“I have sinned before Thee, O my Savior!
Do not cut me off like the barren fig tree!”
In Thy compassion, O Christ, take pity on me who call out in fear:
Let us not remain outside the bridal chamber of Christ!”

Busying myself “with things that pass away”… yes… I mean, No! I don’t want to do that. Lord, help me to rouse myself!

After the service — I’ve also done this before and made a blog post out of it! — I walked around the church gardens and took pictures, with which I decorated this page. Wherever you are in your liturgical cycle or in your heart’s journey, I pray that your souls may flower and bear fruit after the manner of these beautiful blooms.

Lovely new things…

So many newly sprung buds and flowers to be seen around here — also some not so lovely, even ugly things in my garden. One of the most pure and fresh is the bloom on the plum trees:gl-p1060882

I spent hours in the garden over the last few days; one task was to provide some more strings for the snow pea plants that keep growing up and up and have even formed two infant pods so far. Why do they keep on – how do they do it, on the stems that seem rotted and dried near the ground?

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I wouldn’t be surprised if I go out one morning and find that they have keeled over, but strangely, life flows through those brown and emaciated tubes. The sugar snap peas did not survive long enough to get flowers, and I removed them yesterday as well.

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Evidently being beaten down by rain and then frozen every night is not their idea of seasonable weather. Truly, October is the month we are supposed to plant peas in our area, but this hasn’t been a typical year weather-wise….

For a week we’ve been having more frosts, so I brought the Christmas Cactus indoors by my computer table and it is giving us Christmas in March.

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The arugula and pak choi have gone to flowering, so I pulled them out and planted some parsley and new pak choi, purple this time. From the flowers you can guess that it is in the Brassica family.

This first week of Lent we have so many wonderful services, I’ve been at church a lot, and am glad to have my phone with me so I can save images like this. Somehow the camellia escaped getting brown spots from being constantly wet. It is giving us a picture of the purity and beauty that is God’s will for our souls.

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Flowers of Matins

One lovely thing about attending more Matins services during Lent is being able to see the flowers in the early morning light. When I walk out the church door to my car, I reach for my camera, and –more often than not, it’s missing!

This morning I found it in the pocket, and walked around a while snapping pictures.

This first one of a camellia has a stray redwood twig hanging on. We have a lot of those cluttering up the garden beds, as there is at least one tall Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) on the property. Check out the link if you are unclear about the different types of redwood trees.

Long ago when I was in labor of childbirth with my Valentine baby, a friend brought me a bouquet of daphne for my bedside; that was my introduction to the heady scent of this plant. I never realized until this month that I’ve been looking at it growing at church for several years.

  

This afternoon I had another photo opportunity and my camera was home on the computer table where I’d been uploading these pics. So now, I’ve put it back in my purse, and I’m considering an outing tomorrow for the sole purpose of photo-shooting, to catch more glimpses of early spring in my neighborhood.