Tag Archives: roses

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.

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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?”

We have a gardening work day.

To my surprise, I was able to take part in the work day at church. For twoIMG_2235 days previous I’d been getting enough soul-calming Down Time that I could feel relaxed about leaving all the work at home undone, and head over to the church garden to get my hands in the dirt there. Some of you will remember how I used to do that several times a week before my late husband retired.

The last time I did anything like this was over two years ago, when Mr. Glad and I together helped prune roses for a few hours. The beautiful rose bushes are still there, but the late rains encouraged a lot of rust on the leaves, so one of my jobs today was to remove all those leaves affected.

IMG_2220Two of the roses that I have tended so many times in the past have to be removed — their old canes are non-productive and the new canes are too small, or only suckers. That’s sad…but it’s happened to my lovely Pristine rose at home, too, and I’m taking it out.

This lovely pink climber I was only cutting back so it will be easier for the men to remove later today. Our priest’s wife supervises the garden currently and does much of the work; she will buy a new climber and we’ll try to get it to climb up the pillar better than we managed with this one.IMG_2236

 

 

 

Rain is threatening again today, and the sky was cloudy, which put the flowers in such a good light that I had to take their pictures when I stood up to straighten my back. The rose mallow is in its prime.

[For those who wonder what tree that is looming above the library, I’m adding a photo below of its leaves and flowers up close. It’s a catalpa.]

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After Kit got all set up to transplant a lamb’s ear plant, she had to leave, so I dug the hole and tucked it in. I’ve never given so much care to planting lamb’s ears  before — on my own property I am always pulling them out, they are such enthusiastic growers. But this soil was pretty hard….

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Three hours went by pretty fast. I had to quit pulling weeds while I was still having fun, in order to preserve my back. But I’m encouraged to hope that if the next work days come when I’m not traveling, I’ll be able to spend some fruitful time in these beloved gardens again.

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Death was strangled…

…and other images of atonement are the subject of Fr. Stephen Freeman’s post Knocking Down the Gates of Hell, in which he shares the findings of a research paper he once wrote on Martin Luther’s hymns. Luther’s own atonement theology highly favored the imagery that also dominates that of the early church fathers, in which Christ smashes the gates of Hell and frees all those in chains.

Fr. Stephen shares several verses from various exuberant Orthodox Paschal hymns we are singing this month, such as these I excerpted from his post:

Hell, who had filled all men with fear,
Trembled at the sight of Thee,
And in haste he yielded up his prisoners,
O Immortal Sun of Glory.

Thou hast destroyed the palaces of hell by Thy Burial, O Christ.
Thou hast trampled death down by Thy death, O Lord,
And redeemed earth’s children from corruption.

Though Thou art buried in a grave, O Christ,
Though Thou goest down to hell, O Savior,
Thou hast stripped hell naked, emptying its graves.

Death seized Thee, O Jesus,
And was strangled in Thy trap.
Hell’s gates were smashed, the fallen were set free,
And carried from beneath the earth on high.

Thou didst will, O Savior,
To go beneath the earth.
Thou didst free death’s fallen captives from their chains,
Leading them from earth to heaven.

In the earth’s dark bosom
The Grain of Wheat is laid.
By its death, it shall bring forth abundant fruit:
Adam’s sons, freed from the chains of death.

Wishing to save Adam,
Thou didst come down to earth.
Not finding him on earth, O Master,
Thou didst descend to Hades seeking him.

The Paschal icon shows the resurrected Christ pulling Adam and others out of Hades.

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It’s Bright Monday as I write. This morning’s Divine Liturgy was splendid and full of love and light. We are all giddy with joy and fatigue, and can’t stop greeting one another with kisses and proclamations of “Christ is risen!” In the Paschal Canon where we sing, “Let us embrace each other joyously!” I always hope I will be standing next to someone I can hug at that moment. Today two women I didn’t know were the closest, and I made so bold as to hug them both at once, which they didn’t seem to mind. gl - EB

I realized just in time for the midnight service of Pascha Saturday/Sunday, something I have had to call to mind again and again over the last months, that wherever my late husband is, he lives in the present. The part of me that grieves for his presence the way it used to be, as my earthly lover and companion, can never be satisfied; it is a longing for the past, and God is giving me instead Himself and all His gifts in this present moment. My dear Mr. Glad does not live “back there” in the past, either!

It’s because the various parts of me are not all united that my heart’s faith and love must keep instructing my mind — and other tangled and erratic parts? — that to be here right now with God is the way to stay close to my husband. In the reality of the Resurrection and our Blessed Hope, in the gathering of time and times that is kairos, he and I are more together than we have ever been, and in Love.

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One sweet thing about Pascha coming so late this year is that roses are blooming all over. We have dozens of rosebushes at church that are loaded with flowers (not to mention the white roses that filled bouquets decorating inside the church.) This morning I took a picture of one favorite, to decorate this blog post. Happy Spring! Christ is risen! If you have read this far, I send you my Easter love!

 

To be like that orchid.

This morning I helped make Communion bread at church. The only pictudough risen 8-4-15re I took this time was of the big bowl of dough before it was turned out and divided among us four bakers. It was just so symmetrically bulbous and gaseous.

When I came home I noticed the lovely rose, as I had noticed yesterday, too, and I thought I really must take a picture of it. But I forgot, and was eating my lunch when rain began to fall! It was only a few drops, and it didn’t spoil the roses. I went out even while it was still coming down and captured two roses. This may be the last season for that rosebush  – I don’t know that tea roses fit into my xeriscapic visions. (Just so you know, xeriscapic is not a legitimate word, but what form of the word could I use for the idea of “visions of xeriscape?”)

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watered plants

Many more pretty and colorful flowers are blooming in the garden right now, though I must say I’m mostly noticing the unkempt parts. It’s less than a week now until the pool will be broken into pieces that will be dumped into its own hole. I had to call the mosquito control man to come and spray that little swamp at the bottom that the electric pump couldn’t extract.

 

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Because I’ve had to mIMG_0273ove pots and firewood and steppingstones and all manner of things out of the way, the yard front and back is in great disarray in addition to being drought-stricken.

I’ve decided not to keep some plants, after I watered them for weeks with water from the pool; miniature roses in pots are also not waterwise gardening. But it feels like euthanizing old pets merely because they’re too much trouble. All of this upheaval is unsettling.

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unwatered plants

The ornamental/cherry plum tree you can see sticking up purplish next to the house in the pool picture will be removed shortly after the pool, and the pine tree thinned out and shaped. My shady part of the garden will not be so shady anymore.

The wisteria is telling me  she has no idea that there even is a drought. And she keeps me busy cutting off those wild stems that weave in the breeze. If you don’t recognize her, she is the green frizzy mop on the arbor next to the purplish plum.

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In the house, I can hardly believe it, this orchid is still blooming, a condolence/memorial gift from March. When I came home from the mountains one branch had wilted and dried, but after I watered it it revived completely. I’m sure I’ve posted its picture here before, but I can’t help sharing again, it’s so wonderful. I would like to be like that orchid.

On the table by the orchid is a little Jubilee tomato from my front yard. Those tomato plants do not like where they are planted, not one bit. The fruit is almost all small, tough, and/or tasteless. I now regret that day of tomato-hole digging, as I don’t really need any tomatoes at this time of my life anyway, but I did learn some things from the experience.

This week is lots of cookie-baking at church for our food festival in September, and also the the bright and blessing Feast of the Transfiguration. I’ve had house guests of the easiest sort coming and going, and a couple of them who I hope will stay a few weeks as they are on an errand of mercy. They are taking me out for dinner this evening, and I think I will end this mélange on that cheerful note.