Tag Archives: cistus

Roses, a towel, and Isidora.

When you have washed the dishes and are letting the dirty water drain out of the sink, remember Saint Isidora, who is commemorated on May 10. Today I thought of her when I had occasion to wear a kitchen towel on my head; I have posted her story below.

isi cistus church 5-17
cistus at church

I had scheduled an oil change for my car this morning, and planned to drop it off at the mechanic early enough that I would have time to walk the mile to church, and join two other women to bake Orthodox communion bread called prosphora.

Because I was plotting about how long the walk would take me, what time to leave home, etc., I forgot to bring along the bandana I always wear to keep my hair out of the dough. When I arrived on the property I took some flower pictures and then hunted around for a substitute. I couldn’t find a spare scarf in the church or in the lost-and-found, but there was the stack of frayed but clean terrycloth kitchen towels in the corner of the kitchen, and a safety pin in a drawer… Ah, I thought: Isidora was known to wear a rag on her head, so I will do this in her honor.

Icon over the church hall porch

The following is from the website of the Orthodox Church in America:

Saint Isidora, Fool-for-Christ, struggled in the Tabenna monastery in Egypt during the sixth century. Taking upon herself the feat of folly, she acted like one insane, and did not eat food with the other sisters of the monastery. Many of them regarded her with contempt, but Isidora bore all this with great patience and meekness, blessing God for everything.

She worked in the kitchen and fulfilled the dirtiest, most difficult tasks at thisidora-of-egypt-frescoe monastery, cleaning the monastery of every impurity. Isidora covered her head with a plain rag, and instead of cooked food she drank the dirty wash water from the pots and dishes. She never became angry, never insulted anyone with a word, never grumbled against God or the sisters, and was given to silence.

Once, a desert monk, Saint Pitirim, had a vision. An angel of God appeared to him and said, “Go to the Tabenna monastery. There you will see a sister wearing a rag on her head. She serves them all with love, and endures their contempt without complaint. Her heart and her thoughts rest always with God. You, on the other hand, sit in solitude, but your thoughts flit about all over the world.”

The Elder set out for the Tabenna monastery, but he did not see the one indicated to him in the vision among the sisters. Then they led Isidora to him, considering her a demoniac. Isidora fell down at the knees of the Elder, asking his blessing. Saint Pitirim bowed down to the ground to her and said, “Bless me first, venerable Mother!”

To the astonished questions of the sisters the Elder replied, “Before God, Isidora is higher than all of us!” Then the sisters began to repent, confessing their mistreatment of Isidora, and they asked her forgiveness. The saint, however, distressed over her fame, secretly hid herself away from the monastery, and her ultimate fate remained unknown. It is believed that she died around the year 365.

I have seen this icon for years in the church, but only recently did I get a good enough photo to think about putting up here, and then I read about Isidora just a few weeks ago, close enough to her feast day that I waited to share it now. But who knew that I would so conveniently find another connection to the saint? My fellow bakers smiled at my enthusiasm and immediately asked, “What’s for dinner tonight?”

Holy Tuesday Flowers

Over a year ago I had to give up gardening at church. That branch of my life had to be pruned out so that other things had room to grow. But I miss the contact with the earth and growing things on the big property, and all the assortment of flora, some of them my own plantings and most of them friends in whom I’ve invested time and attention. So after Bridegroom Matins this morning I lingered and took some pictures while the light was still gentle.


native iris

The service and the flowers were certainly the highlight of my day. After that, I had planned to spend time working in my own garden, but instead, grueling computer confusion demanded all of the patience and peace I could find.

I never stepped outside again until evening when Mr. Glad and I took a slow walk. It was a great boon to get into the air and away from electronics, and with someone I love who loves the outdoors, too, and I wished I had my camera along then — or better yet, a magic bottle in which to capture the smell of honeysuckle and other sweets.


It’s nice that this evening I can look at images of those morning flowers, which seem now to be getting ready to deck a bridal chamber.

Cold Snap Gardening

As I was about to stick a gazania into its hole next to the church parking lot, I got a call on my cell from my husband, telling me the weather forecast: it’s supposed to snow down to 3500′ tonight. I immediately thought of Pippin, who is weary of the cold, and wondered if she is getting snow tonight.

I was a bit chilly myself, but at least I had gone back in the house to put on more layers before driving off with my garden tool kit, because there was no sunshine or warmth. And it didn’t ever get up to 60° today.

The north wind was blowing, but the filtered light was perfect for taking pictures of all the flowers there at church — if my shutter could keep up with the fluttering of blossoms.

Look! A hose is lying around even at church; someone was washing her car nearby.

There are several people who do yard work on the property, but I pretty much take care of the containers. Several times a year everything I’ve planted seems to look good together, but often things are a bit ragged or odd.

Today I added some snapdragons so that when the poppies and pansies expire from heat, perhaps the snaps will be making a show. I planted a lovely pink geranium in an empty clay pot.

I haven’t had much to do with this rose display lately, but we all are currently raving over the giant apricot irises.

My favorite cistus

At least the cool weather makes the Iceland poppies happy. I found out that the small orange-flowered perennial on the right is helianthemum, and from searching around on the Net I think this one is called Chocolate Blotch.

I know there was noise of traffic on the street, but it was a long time before that entered my consciousness. I heard mourning doves as I was wiggling clover roots out from the bed of ajuga. The neighbors seem to have a new bird, which I couldn’t see, but it cried like an angry peacock. Bird calls impress on my brain more easily on cloudy days.

Three hours is about my limit for at stint at church, weeding, planting, trimming, feeding, and carrying buckets of garden waste to the compost heap. All the bending and stooping must be worth a few pilates sessions; I recover by walking across the property to the next half barrel or perennial bed.

But this afternoon when I pulled into my own driveway and saw all the weeds in the cracks, I couldn’t bear to go into the house until I had hacked away at them for a while. Now I’m hoping to rest up and stretch out enough to have stamina for Vigil this evening.
I checked the weather, and it looks like Pippin will likely be having “snow showers.” That girl needs a greenhouse. But here, of course, we are not that high, or cold. So I can say, bring on the thunderstorms!