Tag Archives: myrrhbearers

They come, they wake us.

pineapple guava buds

This afternoon was a healing balm, flowing from the mild-weather waking to breezes coming in at open windows, and Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women. I was celebrating and extra-blessed along with all of the Marys and Susannas and Salomes, plus Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Our Sisterhood at church also counts this as our Name Day.

So after all the spiritual food and agape meal, when we finally arrived home, all three of us (my two housemates and I) spent some time out in the corner of the back garden enjoying the sun while working or reading.

The photo below was taken two weeks ago after a rain, but it gives the rare wide view. The table where we like to sit is off the picture to the right.

Kit talked to us as she added some emitters to the irrigation lines that serve the pineapple guava. Last summer many of its leaves got sunburned, probably because it wasn’t getting enough to drink.

At dusk I went around taking pictures as I seem to do most days. The abutilon is a somewhat gangly adolescent right now, and it was near impossible to take its picture with a nice scene in the background, but each bloom is exquisite, hanging down bell-like so that one has to point a face or camera skyward to see inside. This view is also toward the street, and the lightpole near the corner of my property.

If I stand near that light pole and point my camera back toward the house,
this is what I see:

Do you see the abutilon at the far left? I have yet to finish filling in the asparagus beds on either side of the walk, though I spent a few hours on the job last week. When that job is finally completed I plan to dedicate a blog post to the topic, but by then I might be too done with it all.

Here is one of the showy milkweeds I planted a week ago – I still have narrow-leaf milkweed to put in the ground, plus tomatoes, basil, succulents, pipevine…  Tomorrow is May 1st. When I took a look at the weather forecast for the next ten days, to see how hot it might get, I was quite surprised to read that we are expected to get more rain showers. This spring I have several times been mistakenly comforted in “knowing” that we have seen the end of rain. I guess it’s too soon to start leaving my tools and toys out of doors at night.

And now, a poem, which I posted at least once before — but it does seem like one that bears repeating, with its simple and obvious truth about days such as the splendid one that for me is coming to a close. For many of you, it is already the merry month of May.

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

– Philip Larkin

What the women forgot.

The second Sunday after Pascha we remember the Myrrhbearers who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ. And my saint, Joanna, was among them. 🙂

And they said among themselves: “Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” This was the subject of the Myrrh-bearing Women’s conversation as they climbed up to Golgotha, looking for nothing unexpected. The women’s weak hands were not strong enough to roll the stone away from the tomb’s entrance, for it was very great.

Those poor women! They did not remember that the labour to perform which they were hastening so zealously to the tomb had already been performed during the Lord’s earthly life. At Bethany, at supper in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman had poured precious spikenard over Christ’s head. The omniscient Lord said at the time about this woman: “In that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial” (Matthew 26:12). He had a clear foreknowledge that His body would, in death, receive no other anointing.

You may ask: then why did Providence allow these devout women to be so bitterly disappointed? To buy precious myrrh, to come fearfully through the dark and sleepless night to the tomb and not to perform that loving act for which they had sacrificed so much? But did Providence not reward their efforts in an incomparably richer way, in giving – in place of the dead body – the living Lord?

–St. Nikolai Velimirovich , Homilies

Myrrhbearing women at the tomb

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

Myrrhbearers

As St. Joanna was one of the women who bravely went to Christ’s tomb early in the morning to anoint his body, she is commemorated today as one of the Myrrhbearers — which makes today my name day!  I wrote a little more about this here; today I wanted to show an icon that was a gift from my husband, along with the eggs that daughter-in-law Joy knitted for me.

The angel came to the myrrhbearing women at the tomb and said, “Myrrh is meet for the dead; but Christ has shown Himself to be a stranger to corruption, so proclaim: The Lord is risen! Granting the world great mercy.”  — from the troparian of the day

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