Tag Archives: Vespers

The face of the earth ever renewed.

common yarrow

This sunny morning my neighbor Kim and I drove separately to the coast and met for a walk. On my winding way through the hills, I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace swaying in the breeze along the roadway. Trees, grasses and shrubs were painted in the gentlest pastel colors of lavender, green, and yellow-orange. The Psalter played through my speakers, and one of the Psalms I heard was 104, which is part of every Orthodox Saturday Vespers. It begins:

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

beach suncup

Once we set out at our brisk pace, I was distracted somewhat from my surroundings, except through my bare feet, which kept me tuned to the cool and firm sand under them, or the waves that splashed over. Though lots of people walked close to the surf, the beach in general wasn’t crowded. I had the feeling it must be the healthiest place around, with the quantities of sea air flowing freshly in and around us all.

I lost track of time. Eventually we parted in the parking lot, and then I wandered by myself in the dunes for a while looking at flowering plants known and unknown to me. I’ve managed to identify most of them — I think.

Ribwort Plantain
Silver Beachweed
non-native sand spurry
what we call ice plant – native of South Africa
Buck’s-horn Plantain

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

Yellow Bush Lupine

If I hadn’t had another obligation in the afternoon, I think I would have meandered up and down the coast till dusk. I’ve never been more thankful that I live close enough to be in the domain of the sand and the sea and the flowers, on a warm and sweet June day.

 

A thousand lesser lights.

Last time I posted an article on my blog, WordPress exclaimed, “You’ve published your 999th blog post!” or something like that, so I know that today will be my 1,000th post. I did some calculating, and that works out to an average of 2-3 per week over almost seven years. Sounds about right.

The milestone calls for some recognition, so I am hearkening back to the beginning, or actually to my first commentary on the beginning, when I marked one year of blogging and explained the name “Gladsome Lights.” At every Vespers we Orthodox sing a hymn that is more often translated, “O Joyous Light,” but when I first came into the Church our choir was using the word “gladsome.” I am putting that blog post up again, after this little intro.

If no one were reading my posts, would they be as satisfying? I think not. So I thank you all again for being an audience and sounding board and for cheering me on. I know that some of you who read rarely or never tell me that you do, and I invite you at this historic moment to write me a line. If you don’t want to go through the bother of leaving a comment, I always welcome e-mails and my address is on the About page.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? It’s hard to believe I’ve composed a thousand posts, and harder to imagine that I would do that many more in the future, if I live that long. I’m not the same person who started blogging back then. But in church tonight we sang a refrain that spoke to me encouragingly of the main thing I need to know about the future:

O God, Thou art my Helper;
Thy mercy shall go before me.

cross border yellow[February 2010] Today marks a year that I have been blogging, and that seems like an opportunity to tell the origin of my blog’s name. I only now looked on Wikipedia for the vesperal hymn “O Gladsome Light,” which, when I hear or sing it, always imparts something of the reality of the Holy Trinity of which it tells. When I first thought of writing a blog, there was no other name that ever came to mind, even though I feared it might be presumptuous, to put it mildly, to take that title for my own.

But just as we Christians are to be “little Christs,” so I see that all the gifts I write about come from Him, and anything good that comes from me is a lesser light emanating from God. So I post a candle picture in thanks to Him. I like the little dot at the bottom, a lesser, mirrored light. My tiny candle, or reflection of a candle.

As we are reminded in the first chapter of James: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

O Gladsome Light of the holy glory
Of the Immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father,
O Jesus Christ….

Botanical with Familial

GL Tilden succulents 9-15

This weekend I had the unusual experience of having separate visits back-to-back with the families of two of my children: one on Friday midday, the other Friday night and Saturday. First Soldier and Joy invited me to meet them at Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills, a place I’ve been a few times in my life, most notably as a Brownie attending day camp there in ages past.

GL Tilden Bot Grdn path 9-15
Tilden Park Botanic Garden
GL rabbitbrush Tilden 9-15
Rabbit Brush

This park covers more than 2,000 acres, which makes it twice as vast as Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, which already is 20% larger than New York’s Central Park. Within its boundaries you can find wilderness areas, a lake and a golf course; ride the merry-go-round or horses, and feast on great views of San Francisco Bay. We only had time to focus on three pleasures.

GL No Calif Fuschia Tilden 9-15
Northern California Fuschia

Our firsP1000830crp G w Liamt fun was riding the little steam train that winds around among the oaks and conifers. Liam took careful note with a serious countenance of the scenery going past, but Laddie has little patience for sitting still, so he was glad to get off again and run. We soon were picnicking on pasties and lemon cake that Joy had brought, and then decided to look at the botanical gardens.

These gardens were founded in 1940 and have well established and extensive paths and plantings. Even though it is late summer, we found many flowers and things to look at, but we all imagined coming back in the spring to see it when it is not so dry.

GL Tilden sign 9-15

It showcases California native plants, from all over the state, which are often grouped in habitats imitating their natural homes, such as a redwood forest and a mountainous granite slope.

GL Tilden Bot. Gardens redwood grove 9-4-15
redwood grove

GL Bodega Coast from Head 9-5-15

Since a couple of our party were people who need their naps, and I had the nasty three o’clock rush hour traffic ahead of me, we weren’t able to ramble long enough to feel completely satisfied in our explorations, so I think we all want to return another time. Hugs good-bye, and home I went.

A couple of hours after I arrived home, Pearl’s family came to visit, all but one. The oldest is in the process of flying out of the coop, so their numbers are diminished. We had a relaxed visit, especially for the first twelve hours or so, and then we drove out to Bodega Bay for lunch and hiking.

GL crp bayshore shallows
bayshore shallows

We also couldn’t do everything we’d have liked. The Marine Lab is closed on Saturdays, and we had hoped to visit there. But we did go out on Bodega Head and hike up to the bluffs – what a gorgeous day we had for it! The Northern Coast is foggy a lot in the summer, until August and especially September when you can hit more pleasant weather. Today was not too warm, and the breeze didn’t turn into wind. We could do without our sweaters most of the time.

GL crp lotus
lotus
GL crp yellow lupine pods
yellow lupine with seed pods

Out here nothing is getting watered, and the hills were a dull brown. I kept thinking of the sign from the park yesterday. But as usual, I found many specimens of plants that interested me, mostly old friends. Because I’m planting a new garden, and hope to have a greenhouse in it, I broke off some of the crackly seed pods from the big yellow lupine bushes, and dropped them into a pocket of my purse. Maybe I can get them to grow at home.

Pearl and Maggie and everyone departed in the afternoon, and I went to Vespers, which is always a blessing; but on a day when I’ve been out in nature it is especially lovely to hear Psalm 104 which always opens the service, with its mention of the watery depths, the birds and mountains, trees and grasses, and how God lovingly provides for all of us.

GL cormorant rock Bodega Head
Cormorants on rock

All creatures wait on thee to give them their food in due season.

GL Bodega Bay from Head 9-5-15
Bodega Bay from the Head

When thou givest to them, they gather it up;

When thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good things.

….

How manifold are thy works, O Lord!

In wisdom hast thou made them all…

Yes, this has been my experience.