Tag Archives: Matins

Providence and Photography

Long ago in Fantasyland, I thought my remodeling project might be done before Lent 2019. And again this year I thought so, but I had less hope than last year. 🙂

I hate to take the time to tell you properly why it’s not done, and how it makes me feel. But I will say that at worst, I feel like a homeless woman who for a year has been camping in an increasingly disorganized storage unit, who must still be presentable at 7:30 every morning to welcome visitors who are working on the place, very close to my bed and bathroom.

But I do have the loveliest bed, plenty of food to eat, and I have a bathroom. My wonderful house has windows through which sun often shines. I have hope of my affliction coming to an end. Millions of people in the world would love to experience my problem. Besides, God knows what I need, doesn’t He? He does. The last fifteen months have not gone the way I expected, but I can’t help but see, even with my bad spiritual eyesight, much good coming out of “everything,” and I’m not talking about my closet makeover.

The providence of God was crystal clear this week, when it’s the first week of Lent, and precisely for the first three days of this special week my project stalled; it wasn’t the first occasion when I could appreciate the timeliness of delay. Unlike most truly homeless people I have a car and could drive to church! I love to attend Matins and other services that are at 8:00 a.m. during Lent, and it’s not difficult during this season of my life when I can’t sleep past 5 or 6. And as often happens, when we have said the last “Amen,” I’m not eager to leave.

Today I lingered to straighten some of the new purple cloths on the icon stands. On Sunday a dozen of them had been quickly exchanged with the previous cloths of Pre-Lenten color — was it gold? — right in the middle of  Forgiveness Vespers, and a few were a little wonky. Then I went out and wandered in the church garden with my camera. I had already taken a couple of pictures on arrival, when the sun was barely up.

I went into the kitchen where Herman and Maria were just unloading their shopping bags of vegetables and clams and yummy things with which to make soup for tonight. We will have the first Presanctified Liturgy of Lent, and on Wednesday evenings we eat together afterward, a simple soup-salad-bread meal together, which people take turns cooking. I’m planning to prepare one of these midweek soups in April.

Before I could leave the parking lot I got a phone call from the painting contractor saying that they will finish this week, tomorrow and Friday. I had been prepared to wait much longer than that, but this seems perfect. One never knows what a day will bring — that is one way of describing the uncertainty, lack of routine, and waiting that has often been crazy-making in this last year.

But If I don’t have to wait here at the house, and I am physically able to take walks or go to church while I’m waiting, it’s not hard to be content. A thousand flowers decided that March 1st was a good day to bloom; there’s no denying that spring has sprung!

December and my watered gardens.

It is a little strange IMG_1228to finish the installation of my garden at the beginning of winter. Some of the plants and trees are going into their dormant stage soon after being planted, and are not likely to be very showy until next summer. I’m thinking of the coneflowers. So I ran out and bought three six-packs of Iceland poppies to plant in that area to break up the expanse of wood product that will be staring at me. And some Dutch iris bulbs.

Much mulch, that’s what you see now. The bare branches of fig and plum don’t show up against the brownness. The paths are one kind of mulch, called Playground Mulch. It’s soft and laid on thickly so the grandchildren won’t scrape their knees on flagstones or whatever I might have used instead. Neither will they get muddy, because there will be no dirt to be seen! The other kind of mulch, coarser but a similar color at this point, covers all the planting beds and hides the drip irrigation lines; it is tucked in around every flower or shrub. This is how you do it if you want to conserve water, and I do….

The children might get wet, though, if they stick their fingers into the fountain. It’s finally all put together and hooked up to its new electrical conduit deep under the pathway, and I can turn it on very easily whenever I want. Then its lovely water sounds provide a needed auditory focus and delight during this period when the plants are small and mostly not flowering.

Even when it’s not turned on it makes me happy, sitting there in the middle of everything and marking the intersection of the four directions, not quite the points of the compass, but pointing to the corners of the space. I don’t like to call it a yard now that I’ve invested so much in the beautification of my property. It was a yard, when it was all a big slab of dirt, waiting to be turned into something, with heavy machinery and other non-living stuff all over the place. But now, now it is a watered garden.

IMG_1225The unfinished tasks are likely to be completed before Christmas. In the meantime I am giving my attention to the holiday, and rain is watering the garden, too, so even the poppies are droopy and not photogenic. What I do find photogenic is my Christmas tree, which Pearl helped me set up and decorate last week. Christmas tree 2015

I realized last month that I could not manage a cut tree of the size I wanted, so I bought an artificial tree, and I’m happy with it. Even the thought of getting an artificial tree caused me to panic at first, because I had no idea where to start looking, never having given a thought to that sort of tree before. But my goddaughter Sophia is an interior decorator and she immediately helped me. It’s been easier than I expected.

I couldn’t resist buying a darling live tree in a pot as well, but I’ll show it later. It’s still outdoors in the dark at the moment. Oh – but I see that it is showing in the photo above, with the hose caught on its branches. I don’t know where it will go when I bring it in, but I will decorate it with birds and pine cones.

Today was the feast of St. Nicholas. Everything was lovely at church. We have been having Matins before Divine Liturgy Sunday mornings, and I’ve helped with that service most Sundays, which means that I arrive at about 8:30. Matins is all about the Resurrection of Christ, so the significance of his rising from the dead is what we sing about for an hour straight, and that’s before we even get to the Divine Liturgy.

When both of us are in church, I hold my goddaughter Mary, whom I wrote about here and who is now nine months old already! I carry her up for Communion, and like to keep her with me as long as possibl3be58-nicholasilluminatede afterward just because she’s so sweet. Today as we stood in line we looked up at the chandelier that was still swinging gently from when it was earlier set in motion to accompany a hymn to the Theotokos. We stood next to a candle stand for a couple of minutes and watched a score of candles shining. I sang along with the choir, to her, “Receive the Body of Christ; taste the Fountain of Immortality.” Then we did, and our hearts were refreshed.

This glorious Lord’s Day —  It all fills up the soul and tires the body!  Today after the service I worked in the church bookstore that is open during the agape meal, so I didn’t get home until 2:00, exhausted.

This evening we listened to some Christmas music, and Kit built a fire to cozy us up. It feels like December!