My God, My Confidence

Featured Image shared by Anastasia

Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope? ~ Job 4:6

“A visible thought for today these many years later… from a beautiful card, celebrating my friend’s high school graduation in 1963. The sentiment on the back of the card reads, My God, my Confidence. The girl whose graduation this card announced attended a program sponsored by the saintly Little Sisters of the Poor in Los Angeles, for high school girls interested in joining their Community. Her name was Cecilia and her elder sister was and still is a Little Sister of the Poor. Cecilia died a few years ago. Eternal Memory to her who introduced me to the Little Sisters at their Home For the Aged where we volunteered in high school. Now, I’m the “Aged” referenced in the title!” ~ Anastasia

Memory Eternal Julia and family on the day of Julia’s interment. Julia was a wonderful Sister in Christ, and an amazing alto singer in the church choir, whose warm, rich voice reminded me of a heavenly bird’s. In the past, she raised finches, and I can remember them singing joyfully in her home as they flitted about in their large cages by the bright window. Julia was an accomplished, professional artist and art teacher, who loved to draw and paint many things, including all kinds of birds. Anastasia’s card with the sparrow being held in God’s Hands reminded me of Julia, her love for birds, and that right now, God has Julia’s gentle soul in His Loving Hands.

Even the sparrow has found a home… ~ Psalm 84:3

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~ St. Matthew 10:31

Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~ St. Luke 12:6-7

The feature image of the 1963 Graduation Card, reminds me of hope. I pray that some day after completing this School of Life, we may all take flight and Graduate in Heaven! Amen!

Festal Blessings of the Heart

Veneration of the Cross, Third Sunday in Great Lent, coincided this year with the set Feast of the Annunciation, on April 7th. The Precious Cross was decorated in traditional red colours… using roses and carnations. However, and alas, even after scouring the grocery store, there was no fresh basil (also traditional to use when decorating the Cross) to be found. So, from our garden, fragrant pink pieris japonica and white viburnum were added.

Yesterday, the morning sun danced and blazed brightly on my face. I closed my eyes to bask in its warmth.

Antiphonal chirps and trills of birdsong resounded. At the raucous cry of a seagull overhead, I opened my eyes and smiled at the added ambience.

Not to be outdone, budding catkins nodded vehemently over the top of the pergola, each fuzzy leaflet highlighted with a tiny halo of luminous, Gladsome Light. I desperately wanted to run and grab my phone camera to catch this breathtaking beauty… but knew the special light would change in a second or two, and I would forever lose the moment – without being in the moment. I took a picture instead… with my mind’s eye, and can see this sight even now as I type. I hope to remember it forever.

From the porch roof, remnants of raindrops stubbornly clung as lustrous, pearly, stalactites, until they chose to let go. Their occasional drips echoed as muffled percussion on the patio flagstones below, perfectly complimenting the surrounding avian symphony.

And the trees! With branches lifted skyward as if in supplication, they swayed and danced with expressive abandon (as only trees can in a festal morning wind)… kicking up their rooty heels with joy!

Stop. Look. Listen with your heart. Let it dance with the trees, in joy and gratitude at God’s Creation!

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they behold their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receiving veneration: for Christ, as holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high. I died through a tree, but I have found in thee a Tree of Life, O Cross of Christ. ~ Sunday of the Cross, 8th Ode

God is everywhere present and fills all things! The Three-Branched Cross of Christ is Life!

Alleluia and Amen!

Feathered Foresight

Image by garten-gg Pixabay

Birds form a circle around the earth. Wherever we go, they remind us of the same things. The cuckoo cries: Wake up… wake up… to remind us of saying our morning prayer. The turtle-dove coos: We’re pilgrims… We’re pilgrims… for us to remember that we are just passing pilgrims on His Earth. And the crow crows: Pray… Pray… to remind us of praying all the time. ~Gerontissa Gavrilia

The Lord gave us as an example of unconcern – the birds of the sky – not humans… When the twig on which it is perching breaks, the little bird, without being alarmed, opens its wings and flies away. Likewise, when the support of our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away. ~Gerontissa Gavrilia

We should follow the example of the birds. They’re always joyful, whereas we’re always bothered by something. ~Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Image by Jon Pauling from Pixabay

Snapping Twigs

Icon of Great Martyr Barbara ~ shared by Anastasia

Congratulations, and Happy Feast on your Name’s DaySamuel! God grant you many years!

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2

When the twig on which it is perching breaks, the little bird, without being alarmed, opens its wings and flies away. Likewise, when the support under our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away ~ Gerontissa (Elder) Gavrilia

Illness always brings spiritual experiences to the person who is ready to grasp their meaning. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

Once my mind “un-fuzzed” enough from COVID last month, I recuperated outside under the glorious sunshine amid fragrant patio flowers… and re-read this amazing book.

If you have an opportunity to borrow or buy The Ascetic of Love, DO! It’s such an uplifting, and spiritually practical book, by Nun Gavrilia.

I highly recommend it!!! Yes. Three exclamation marks! (But, if looking to buy online, the book is out of print, and may be super-expensive)

The Holy Prophet Samuel says… there is no other rock than our God. Indeed. So, when those other twigs in our life bend and snap (as they do and will)… May we be mindful enough to immediately embrace the Divine Action Plan, and joyfully fly away (unalarmed)… laying all our cares and burdens directly at the dear Lord’s Feet!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

With love and gratitude in Christ.

I Cluck. Therefore I Am.

Raindrops dot flowering Thunbergia Laurifolia vines overhanging tiered lava rocks. Kauai ~ 2023

Kauai is vibrant and beautiful. In my opinion, it’s the most Heavenly Island on God’s Green Earth.

However, along with the spectacular scenery, wonderful generous people, and tropical songbirds… there are also thousands of feral chickens and roosters everywhere!

These feathered creatures seem compelled to serenade the sleeping masses of humanity, sometimes as early as 3 am.

Lying drowsily in the predawn darkness, being treated to incessant crowing, chatty clucking, boisterous cackles, and hiccupping squawks… One (somewhat) amusedly ponders the logic of their little bird brains’ internal chronometers – channelling the mainland’s West Coast Time Zone? (3 hours ahead of Island Time)

Cocky Rooster Crashes Kapa’a Cafe

It’s a blessed relief to fall back asleep to the redeeming white noise of a pre-sunrise tropical rain shower, or the rattle of palm fronds rustling in the warm trade winds.

Without a doubt, chickens rule the roost in Kauai. Their competitive cacophony is heard everywhere… Whether strutting through restaurants, or scooting daringly across the proverbial road to the other side! I must admit though, the mother hens and chicks were darling. They almost broke me.

There was a fascinating book at the vacation home – An Ocean in Mind with some (fittingly) amazing quotes by Steve Somersen.

There’s a world out here that I didn’t know anything about until forced into it by my choices. Analytic thinking alone cannot bring understanding, and I’m glad of that. We aren’t searching for understanding, but understanding is coming as a result of the search. ~ Steve Somersen (An Ocean in Mind, by Will Kyselka)

I’ve used another of his poignant quotes as text on the feature beach image of my post No Matter Where…

Meanwhile, I’m home again, and have come to the stunning, perplexing conclusion I actually miss hearing those foul rascally fowl!? They cluck. Ergo sum. Go figure!

Rejoicing in His Creatures

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

When God, who is absolute fullness, brought creatures into existence, it was not done to fulfill any need but so that His creatures should be happy to share His likeness, and so that He himself might rejoice in the joy of His creatures as they draw inexhaustibly upon the Inexhaustible. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Love all God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.  If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

I will never laugh at anyone for grieving over a loved beast. I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e., at the expense of our love for Him), but in another way we love everything too little. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble has ever been loved too much – i.e., more than every one of God’s works deserves. ~ C. S. Lewis

Take delight in all things that surround us. All things teach us and lead us to God. All things around us are droplets of the love of God – both things animate and inanimate, the plants and the animals, the birds and the mountains, the sea and the sunset and the starry sky. They are little loves through which we attain to the great Love that is Christ. Flowers, for example, have their own grace; they teach us with their fragrance and with their magnificence. They speak to us of the love of God. They scatter their fragrance and their beauty on sinners and on the righteous. ~ Elder Porphyrios

…Animals can instinctively sense if you love them. The animals in Paradise felt the fragrance of Grace and served Adam. Since the transgression, nature groans together with man… My mind tells me that even the animals are better than me; so, I humble myself and obey them. Very early this morning, being tired from praying all night and exhausted because of my illness, I lay down to rest. After a while, I heard a kitten meowing outside my cell as if she needed something. I really wanted to rest, but I humbled myself and went against my own will. I obeyed the kitten and replied to her calling. I went to open the door. It had started to rain and I let her in so she wouldn’t get wet. What do you think then? Should I obey the animals or not? My thoughts tell me I should. ~ St. Paisios

With love and gratitude to my past creatures (dogs, rabbit, goldfish, birds and cats), who’ve made my life richer… Such a blessing to have been their human for a time!

Oh… and last but not least, cheers to the current grand-cat-by-default… who deigns to allow me to feed her treats.

Beautiful Garden of Scripture

European Robin Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

All who ask receive, those who seek find, and to those who knock it shall be opened. Therefore, let us knock at the beautiful garden of Scripture. It is fragrant, sweet, and blooming with various sounds of spiritual and divinely inspired birds. They sing all around our ears, capture our hearts, comfort the mourners, pacify the angry, and fill us with everlasting joy. ~ St. John of Damascus

After the ancient feasts of Theophany and the upcoming Meeting of the Lord in the Temple (Candlemas), we notice the days growing longer. Although we know spring is just around the corner, sometimes February tosses us a few surprises. One moment we’re relaxed and relieved to see crocus and snow drop flowers blooming in glorious patches of dappled sunshine, and the next moment – heavy gray overcast skies compete with our weariness of winter and the happiness of blossoming silver catkins. While there’s almost always one last and brief farewell blast of snow or a crisp, cold snap, February has the last laugh! Robins return from their wintery travels to herald hope of the coming spring. Hearing their birdsong comforts and captures my heart anew… making me smile with joy! Thank you dear Lord for creating the saucy robins!

Doorway to the Mysteries

Image by cocoparisienne at Pixabay

Faith is the doorway to the mysteries. What the eyes of the body are for physical objects, faith is for the hidden eyes of the soul. Just as we have two bodily eyes, so we have two spiritual eyes, and each has its own way of seeing. With one we see the glory of God hidden in creatures: with the other we contemplate the glory of God’s holy nature when he deigns to give us access to the mysteries. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

Fragrant, Sweet, Blooming

Image by Christiane from Pixabay

All who ask receive, those who seek, find, and those who knock it shall be opened. Therefore, let us knock at the beautiful garden of Scripture. It is fragrant, sweet and blooming with various sounds of spiritual and divinely inspired birds. They sing all around our ears, capture our hearts, comfort the mourners, pacify the angry, and fill us with everlasting joy. ~ St. John of Damascus

Through Stillness

Image by John from Pixabay

Monastery in Meteora, Greece

When you go forth, guard what you have gathered. When the cage is opened, the birds fly out. And then we shall find no further profit in stillness. ~ St. John Climacus (The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

Love of God proceeds from conversing with him; this conversation of prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the stripping away of the self.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life)

True wisdom is gazing at God. Gazing at God is silence of the thoughts. Stillness of mind is tranquillity which comes from discernment.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 64)

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