Tag Archives: Jenner-by-the-Sea

Be glad, make ready, rejoice!

We Orthodox Christians begin our Advent, our Nativity Fast, in November, because our Advent is 40 days long. So whether we celebrate Christmas on December 25th or January 7th, we’re ahead of western Advent. My parish is of the December 25th, and today was our first day of the fast.

It was the coldest day yet in my garden, and my fountain had a layer of ice on it. The water level was also a bit low so I poured a few pitchers of tepid water in there, and pulled redwood needles out of the filter to get it going again. Then I spent the rest of the morning at church, baking Communion bread with other women. With three ovens going at once, we got the kitchen quite toasty!

I drove straight from there to pick up my friend Mother S. who is in town visiting family for Thanksgiving. She loves the beach, so we drove out to Jenner-by-the-Sea, where the Russian River flows into the Pacific. I took very few pictures this time, but it was a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, 60 degrees and sunny! We parked in the lot down near the beach, after taking pictures from this spot on a hill, from which you can see where the river comes in. I squished my bare feet into the sand, but didn’t walk out into the surf.

It was a lot of driving, but well worth it. By the time I got Mother S. home again, I barely had time to get to the service I was aiming for, back at church. It was a combination of a Paraklesis for Advent and the Blessing of Water. I had left my phone in the car so I didn’t take pictures of the small church lit only by candles.

I think it was good for me to not have that option of taking pictures, because when I eliminated the role of observer, I could be fully present and participating, not standing apart in my mind, so to speak, distracted by photographic possibilities. I was just being me, in church, praying.

It might have been for that reason that I was able to pay attention and be deeply affected by the prayers and hymns that were specific to this day and these services. They were metaphorically super-rich, and many of them were in the form of exhortations and expressions of wonder from us or from the Virgin, on the subject of the Incarnation. We were giving commands to rejoice, to get ready, to glorify God — to the universe, to the cave, to Zion, even to our mortal nature.

I’ve transcribed a few of the verses below:

O Bethlehem, receive Christ: for, made flesh, he comes to dwell in thee, opening Eden to me. Make ready, O Cave, to behold most strangely contained in thee, him who cannot be contained, who now is made poor in the wealth of his tender mercies.

Christ comes to be born, granting in his goodness a strange rebirth to those sprung from Adam. Be glad, the whole nature of mortal man, thou that art barren and bearest not: the master has come to make thee a mother of many children.

Rejoice exceedingly, O Zion: make ready, O Bethlehem. The Upholder of all things, sending a star before him, has made known his condescension without measure. He before whom the heavenly powers tremble, our only God, without change is born in very truth from the Virgin.

Today the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth in an ineffable manner to the pre-eternal Word. Rejoice, therefore, O universe, when thou hearest, and glorify with the angels and shepherds him who shall appear by his own will as a new child, the pre-eternal God.

It was a glorious beginning to Advent. I feel that I’ve gotten a boost of expectation that will help keep my heart tuned to the upcoming joyous Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

Flying high.

30 vineyards and trees About twenty years ago my son and son-in-law were both learning to fly airplanes, and after they were qualified they offered at different times to take me up flying with them. I declined, I think because there was usually someone else more eager on whatever day they asked, when I didn’t feel relaxed enough to appreciate the experience.P1000035 Russian R


Yesterday when that same son-in-law Nate was here helping me with electronics stuff, he offered to fly me over to the coast, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I have all kinds of disposable time these days and in this case the time was available on a day when I was also in a happy and calm mood.

We flew over vineyards and trees, and along the Russian River as it flows to the ocean.



At the mouth of the river is Jenner-by-the-Sea.

48 at Jenner

flying ocean Jenner 5-15

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It was a mild and lovely day, with some clouds. At times we bumped over crests of waves, waves of air that followed the contours of the hills.

And we flew along Highway 1 for a few miles, as it twists back and forth above the cliffs. In a plane, switchbacks were not necessary.

Just inland the Copper Mountain Mandala Buddhist retreat center was spread out over the hills in all its glittering and elaborate glory.


66 retreat center 7 w ocean

Nate didn’t have an extra headset so that we could talk to each other; I wore some hearing protectors I used to put on in the days when Mr. Glad’s drum practice was going on downstairs. So my pilot and I mostly rode along in a comfortable silence, unless I wanted to lift one side of my headgear and lean close to him to try to communicate above the loud hum of the propellers.

Nate said he was flying at about 150 miles per hour on his way over to my house earlier in the day; I don’t know how fast we were moving on this tour. I had no sense of time up there — every moment did seem precious, as the scenes passed behind us so quickly, and it was only a half hour, so I’m told, before we were floating down over the runway again and had landed with a soft bump.

Knowing that we are suffering drought, you might wonder at all the green in my pictures. We have been blessed by some late rains, as recently as three days ago. In another month or two, there will be more brown and gold tones mixed in.

On the theme of water I will leave you with a last picture, of Lake Sonoma, a source of water for cities and agriculture, created in the 80’s from the building of Warm Springs Dam on Dry Creek. Obviously the creek is not always Dry. Our North Bay counties are beautiful even in drought, but I’m happy as can be that I was given an aerial view just at this season, in a moist springtime.

76 Lk Sonoma