Tag Archives: Day of Rejoicing

I busy myself with weeds.

Weeds are keeping me busy indeed — and I don’t mean with the hoe or on my hands and knees yanking them out of my garden. Now that I have inches of mulch covering the soil around the plants I do want, I have more leisure to merely study the weeds that manage to pop up.

It’s easy to get carried away with this project, and my blog material has swelled to the point of resembling the unwieldy piles of weeds I used to cart to the waste bin. I have been sorting pictures and choosing the best ones to show you, and poring over Weeds of the West. I asked my farmer friend Dick about one weed that did get away from me in the gravel utility yard, and he said he had it, too, and would find out what it was. But Pippin researched and we agreed it was sowthistle. Dick turned out to be amused that we would work so hard to find the name of something “only a weed!”

Yesterday was the Day of Rejoicing, and this year I went to all four cemeteries to sing to those waiting in their graves for the Resurrection. Two of the cemeteries have non-endowed sections where weeds are plentiful, and as we processed from one area to another I stopped to get a picture of some weeds/wildflowers (they can be the same plant!), explaining to my friend Tom who was behind me, “I am doing a sort of study of weeds….”

“Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Well, I like to learn about plants, and now in springtime weeds are bursting out everywhere… they are part of my world!”

There’s no time for philosophizing on this topic at the moment, though, because I have dozens more weeds to sort and investigate, so I thought I’d just tell you about one that I mis-identified in the past. When a friend saw my picture at the top of this post that I had elsewhere labeled “chamomile” she questioned, “Are you sure it isn’t Tripleurospermum maritimum?” Well, hmm… no…. But I have since learned that it isn’t either of those things, but a relation called pineappleweed, or Matricaria matricarioides (or Matricaria discoidea). On its blooms “ray flowers are lacking,” as Weeds of the West puts it. It has other common names: wild chamomile — so I wasn’t totally wrong — and disc mayweed.

Reading about Tripleurospermum maritimum is also interesting, but a bit confusing. I love that in Iceland and Scandinavia it is called Baldr’s eyelashes — or is it Baldr’s Brow? —  after the son of Odin:

“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”

But is T.m. actually the same thing as Tripleurospermum  inodorum? And should it or they be called Matricaria perforata? Controversy surrounds this plant!  Are Icelanders looking at the same plant as the Swedes when they think of Baldr, or is theirs scentless mayweed? Is the plant — or if there are two, is one of them — truly scentless, or is it bad-smelling? This is not even a weed in my own world and look where it’s taken me!

But dear pineapple weed is fair, too, and has been part of my life for a long time. It likes to grow in places where people have packed the ground down by walking on it, and if on my everyday walk I cut the corner sharply enough turning on to the creek path, I will walk on it. I read that the leaves have a pleasant scent when crushed, so today I stopped and rubbed some between my finger and thumb, and yes, it caused a faint pineappley event, but not worth stomping on the furry greenery to accomplish.

Before I was certain of its identity I tried just to pick off a stem in the rain and a clump came up. So I brought it home and divided it into four which I planted in a pot. It will be interesting to see if it can be happy with no one walking on its territory.

Wouldn’t it be sweet, even scent-wise, if pineappleweed could invade sowthistle’s domain? It wouldn’t be the first time I have cultivated a weed in my garden. If I find the time, I might tell you about that. For now, I’ll be interested to hear if a few of my readers have any kind of chamomile or mayweed growing wild in your worlds, and I will get back to my own.

 

The death of death, and wildflowers.

“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

This is one of the Paschal hymns our little groups sang over and over today, as we walked among the graves at several cemeteries, rejoicing with those who wait in hope.

It is called the Day of Rejoicing, or Radonitsa,
and is always the second Tuesday after Pascha.

 

Today the wind was blowing, so we could not keep our candles lit. The sun peeked out from behind clouds from time to time.

More wildflowers than I’ve ever seen were blooming in the non-endowed cemeteries. This must be because of the very wet winter and spring we have had.

 

 

 

 

 

The rattlesnake grass was blowing in the breeze and making a graceful and wavy dance.

I knew that Scarlet Pimpernel was a flower, but I didn’t know it was this flower
growing among the lupines. My godmother told me.

My husband is buried at one of the cemeteries we visited, and my goddaughter at another.
We sang and burned incense and sprinkled holy water over the graves of dozens of others
who are resting in the earth, awaiting the Resurrection of the Dead.

This year I remembered to bring the shells from our red Pascha eggs
to sprinkle on the graves, and flowers from my snowball bush, too.
We were all so happy to be there!

“We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life.
And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause,
the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.”

In this case, He truly wasn’t there.

The second Sunday after Pascha we remember the myrrhbearers, the women who came early in the morning to Christ’s tomb to anoint his body. This article from our parish bulletin gave me great joy, as did the excursion I made with some others from church to several cemeteries this week, where we proclaimed Christ’s Resurrection to those in the graves. Our rector told us that we were also myrrhbearers that day, and he reminded us, “This is not a place of rotting and decomposed bodies, but a place of awaiting the Resurrection; what could be more joyful than that?”

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…The women came to anoint a body, a body that had ALREADY been anointed. What a strange thing to do. After all, as virtually every American mother assures her child the first time that he or she attends a funeral, the loved one isn’t THERE! Only his body! If the seven myrrh-bearing women were to have heard our 21st century dismissal of the human body, they would have been astonished. Perhaps they would have assumed that we are pagans, like the philosophers who declared soma sema — “the body is a tomb” — and who cremated their dead to allow the soul to escape that prison. But this was not the philosophy of our beloved myrrh-bearers. Mary Magdalene, when she saw the empty tomb, declared in grief, “They have taken away the LORD” and then asked, “Where have they taken him?” She didn’t ask, “Where have they taken his body?” In her mind, and to the mind of the Jewish faithful (except for the confused Sadducees!), a person was embodied: they looked for not mere spiritual continuation after death, but for the reunion of soul with body, a resurrection! And so do we as Christians! “I look for the resurrection of the dead.” Physical things matter to God….

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Anointing his body, then, was not such a bizarre thing to do. For this holy Tabernacle of God, this Prophet of prophets, this High Priest forever, this King of Kings, is worthy of every anointing honor that we can give him—though He has no NEED of our praise! In fact, it is He who anoints us with the Holy Spirit. But there is something for which He is looking—our faith. This ending of Mark summarizes for us many of the stories that are told in more detail in the other gospels. Briefly we hear about the women’s astonishment, and the  refusal of the apostles to believe, the surprise on the road to Emmaus, the disbelief in the upper room, and how Jesus “upbraided them” because of their disbelief. The One who struggled in the Garden with his chosen path knows what it is to be weak—though He himself was never faithless. And so, He calls to us, as he did to the early disciples, telling us not to be faithless but believing.

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simple barley koliva

The evidences of what He has done and is doing are everywhere around us and among us. Like the early disciples, we have confirmed before our very eyes the truth of His word. Anointed by the Spirit on Pentecost, they went out with the message, and braved many dangers, even death! As the last verse of Mark tells us, “…they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20)

We too, God’s little anointed ones, are led by the Spirit, as St. Paul puts it; that leading may take us places we would rather not go. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:14-18)

–Excerpt from article by Edith M. Humphrey, Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Myrrhbearing women at the tomb
Myrrhbearing women at the tomb

Joyful with those who wait in Hope.

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The second Tuesday after Pascha it is common for Orthodox to visit cemeteries to share the joy of Easter with the departed, just as Christ must have done when he “descended into Hades” first thing after His Resurrection. In our area it is a strong tradition among parishes and monasteries, and I learned to love this trip to the cemeteries early in my life as an Orthodox Christian.

Until this year I had only visited one of the many cemeteries that are included on this day, but now that my own husband lies “newly reposed” in different one, I wanted to go and sing “Christ is risen!” by his grave as well. Priests from two Orthodox churches arrived unintentionally at the same time and led the service right next to the yet unmarked grave of Mr. Glad. You can see the long rectangle where turf was replaced, in the center of this picture.PH cem 4-21-15

The cemetery where his body was laid is of the modern “endowed” sort. All of the grounds are kept up by the owners, paid for by the burial fees. This is the same cemetery that I first visited in 2012 and afterward wrote about in A Sleeping Place Is Blessed. Not two years later Mr. Glad realized it would be prudent to buy plots for us there.

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Up the road a few miles at the next stop, we were met by Nina who was waiting by the graves of both of her husbands. I saw on the marker that her first husband died when I was still a child. Through the oaks down the hill we could see a third priest praying with two women at one gravesite.

This cemetery is of the old and non-endowed sort, where you are lucky if once a year some community organization chops down the larger weeds. And there is concrete, lots of it, in big broken squares and rectangles of curbs and cracked slabs over and around family groupings. I had forgotten about the hilliness, and about this difficulty of standing and walking on uneven concrete surfaces, anFvl 2 flowers 15d my ankles began to hurt. Note to self: No Danskos next time.

Besides the concrete, in the unpaved areas there are often foxtails and dust. But flowers grow in the cracks even in drought, and the rockrose that was planted long ago (photo at top) is vigorous. Last year it was really hot on Radonitsa (the Slavic word for this Day of Joy) but today it was cool and drizzly, so our shoes got wet on the lawns.

We didn’t have a big crowd at any of the cemeteries. A different group showed up at each place, with the most people at the third one, including several nuns from a nearby monastery; and women originally from Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia, presumably because they are used to doing a similar thing in their countries. Yevhenia, my new friend from Ukraine (that’s a phonetic spelling of how I try to pronounce her name, a form of Eugenia) said that in her country they bring tables and chairs to the cemetery so that they don’t have to rush off, and they picnic on festal foods while they think a while longer about death and God. They like to leave food on the graves, too, for poor people to pick up later on.

When I came home and read again about the Day of Rejoicing, I found that “The Slavs, like many ancient peoples, had a tradition of visiting family members’ graves during the springtime and feasting together with them.” It was an easy custom to continue after their conversion to Christianity, a faith that gave them a truly joyful message to bring along with the food, about Christ’s life-giving death.

Hlds cem 15This third cemetery has a smooth endowed section with flat grave markers, down the hill from what is in this picture, and we all trailed over there on the paths between the large square plots, to finish the service near those newer graves. Not far off a group of three people we didn’t know was gathered around a gravesite that was heaped with flowers, one woman obviously weeping.

They watched and listened to us as we faced their direction and sang the Paschal Canon enthusiastically, and when Father walked around censing, and blessing the graves with holy water as he sang, he went as far as their spot and sprinkled water on it, too, just very naturally, but did not interrupt the service. When we finished we went to talk to them; the woman’s mother had died. Maybe the two men were her husband and son. She kept telling us, “Thank you!” through her tears, and we exchanged hugs and repeated greetings of “Christ is risen!”

Some of us had colored eggshells left over from Pascha, to sprinkle on the graves. I didn’t have anything like that for Mr. Glad’s grave but a friend shared his with me. I hope to be ready next year, as I’ve conceived a plan, to make use of the blooms of our big snowball bush (viburnum) which are usually at their peak about this time. On the graves of those awaiting the Resurrection, they would be a lovely adornment.

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