Follow the Sun

Overshadowed by a massive tree, glimpses of Light dapple marigolds growing below. Throughout the course of the day, they determinedly turn their heads to follow the sun, nonetheless.

…I am with you and no one can be against you! ~ Ascension Kontakion

Turn your face toward light, O child of light. The Father of Light calls you with a fiery Love. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovic

O Lord Jesus Christ! You are my medicine when I am sick; You are my strength when I need help; You are Life itself when I fear death; You are Light when all is dark. ~ St. Ambrose of Milan

None of us are immune to the squalls and storms of life. Each of us have our own personal, physical, mental, and spiritual health battles to contend with.

Many people experience (including myself), that the healing strength of tears, along with the application of Faith and therapeutic practicalities of proper medicine, can heal, can shrink the root(s) of our problems, thus adjusting the sizes of (all the) crosses we’re struggling to bear.

That’s all part of it, but it’s done together with faith; it’s done together with prayer to God. They’re not opposed to each other; they go together... But all the time, nevertheless, we believe that our life is in the hands of God. It can be in the hands of physicians that God had created, God had formed, and God has sent to us for the sake of our healing... ~ Fr. Thomas Hopko

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ St. Matthew 11:28-30

The Gladsome Light of Christ surrounds us – regardless of the swirling changes in spiritual weather! Keep looking UP with our heart’s eyes, and remember to breathe in the heavenly air…

Follow the Son above those clouds – for Christ has Ascended to the right Hand of the Father.

May we consciously let go of our banes to embrace all blessings and help, by glorifying Him… in Light and Love!

Wishing you a Blessed Afterfeast of the Ascension!

Below is a lovely, simple, uplifting secular song, one of my favourites. Hope you enjoy it too. One could interchange thoughts on some of the words Sun for Son, as in Sonshine…

Making Headway in the Headwinds

Scene from recent walk on a chilly, blustery day.

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come. ~ C.S. Lewis

Time is definitely shorter than we think, and we simply can’t afford to put off attaining our goals by waiting for Life’s Welcome Mat of Perfect Circumstances to be dusted off and tossed casually at our feet.

Tomorrow never comes.

There is only now... and Patient Endurance is our Cross, best shouldered with Hope’s Persistence.

There is only today for actions and efforts.

Stunning Self-Reminder: Take one step. Then another. And another. Just keep doing! We can only meet God in the Eternal Present.

May we diligently persevere in Life’s Headwinds… rejoicing that there’s always Sonshine above those stormy clouds and Providential Tailwinds in unexpected places!

Today’s Two Great Feasts!

From Vigil Service for Veneration of the Holy Cross and The Annunciation

Greetings on the Feasts!

Today we’ve reached the halfway point of Great Lent, and this year there are also two large Feast Days which unusually fall together! It’s quite exciting!

We celebrate the (movable) Sunday of the Holy Cross, also known as the Veneration of the Precious Cross and the (set) Great Feast of The Annunciationthe Announcement of Glad Tidings! (Apr. 7/Mar.25)

The troparia (hymn) for the Feast of the Annunciation is: Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel proclaimeth the good tidings of grace, wherefore, we also cry to the Theotokos with him: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

During her life, the Virgin Mary (with discernment), actively participated and consistently said “yes” to God, and in St. Luke 1:26-38 we hear her humble response to the Archangel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.”

There’s an old custom on the Annunciation, of rising at dawn in order to watch the sun dance with joy. The only other time it does this, is at the Great Feast of Holy Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ! An old English name for the Feast of the Annunciation, was Lady Day, and nine months from today, is the Nativity of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

On the Third Sunday of Great Lent, the Holy Cross comes out for veneration by the faithful, and the kontakion (hymn) is sung during the service: No longer doth the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden, for a strange extinction has come upon it, even the Tree of the Cross. The sting hath been taken from death, and the victory from hades. And Thou, my Saviour, didst appear unto those in hades, saying: Enter ye again into Paradise.

The Cross is a fountain of holiness and strength, reminding us that our Lenten journey is one of repentance and preparation to receive the Joy of the Resurrection. When we see an icon of Christ stretched out upon the Cross… His Arms are opened wide – embracing the whole world with His Divine Love.

Let us hold firm to the remainder of the course set before us, as we sail across the Great Sea of the Fast. Four weeks from today, we’ll arrive at our destination… that beautiful shore of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, at Pascha.

Born For Resurrection

Greetings on Great and Holy Saturday!

Jesus Christ has taken the world of our sins upon Himself.

For this cause He came into the world…

For this New Beginning!

Do not lament Me, O Mother,
Seeing Me in the tomb,
The Son conceived in the womb without seed,
For I shall arise,
And be glorified with eternal glory as God.
I shall exalt all who magnify thee in faith and in love.
~ Ode 9, Holy Saturday Canon

Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross? Because of God’s great Love, He did something so special for each one of us. It‘s almost too amazing to even try and think about it! When we love someone very much, we help them as much as we can – without thinking how hard it might be for ourselves to do this. Through Adam and Eve, the first created man and woman, sin entered the world, and now we all sin. There are big sins and little sins, but everyone sins, and any sin separates us from God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly took all the sins of everyone ever born, which means, you, me, the whole world, and took all these sins upon Himself; because sin separates us from God. When Jesus died and was buried, all our sins died and were buried too. We also remember this at our Baptism. We are now forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross! Jesus loves us so much! And, even if you were the ONLY person living in the whole world, Jesus still would have done this – just for you! Just for one person, because He knows each one of us and loves us all so much! And, because He is the Son of God- He arose victorious, from the dead! “Trampling down death, by death!” This is why we no longer fear death, for death is a new beginning, a new and Eternal Life with God. ~ The Ark Youth Quarterly – St. Sophia Orthodox Church

Patient Endurance

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions. ~ St. Peter of Damaskos; Philokalia

He who endures distress, will be granted joys; and he who bears with unpleasant things, will not be deprived of the pleasant. ~ St. Nilus of Sinai

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ~ James 5:11

Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. ~ C.S. Lewis

We are all broken,
Regardless of sufferings
Or disappointments.

God knows our sorrows,
He is our refuge and strength
And the Remedy.

It is Christ Who heals,
Whom we are called to follow…
Throughout life’s trials.

The Lord strengthens us
To find meaning and purpose
In painful struggles –

Patiently He waits
For us to open the door
Of our hearts for help…

To live, thrive, and soar
High above
heedless failures…
Of world, body, soul.

Patient Endurance is not simply placid acceptance of waiting around and just hoping things get better on their own. No! Patient Endurance is our Cross. Patient Endurance is ACTION and EFFORT. Patient Endurance requires taking one small step and then another, and then another… Patient Endurance keeps moving forward, and involves personal, consistent reaching out to God for help. It involves prayer… us talking to Him, sharing our ups and downs… thanking Him for our banes and blessings… thanking Him for hearing us, for His Love, and that we know and accept He will answer us in His Good and Perfect Time – with what is best for us. Patient Endurance keeps the Spiritual Communication Lines open!

He waits patiently.

Greeting you with Hope and Love in Christ.

Keep looking up! There’s Sonshine above those stormy clouds!








From the Soil of Our Heart

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Greetings on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in his life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart. ~ St. Ambrose of Optina

May your day be imbued with a multitude of sweet-scented blessings!

Drying the Flowers From the Cross

…the wood of the Cross hath now put for flower, filling her (the church) with strength and steadfastness. ~ Ode 4, Katavasia of the Cross

Flowers (above) from the recent Procession of the Precious Cross were collected and removed from their oasis boards yesterday. All petals were pulled, separated, and spread out onto a large, hanging, mesh-dryer herb rack – purchased through Amazon a few years ago.

This foldable rack is used each summer to dry our organic herbs and edible flowers for teas, sachets and sleep pillows. It takes about 2 + weeks to dry properly and completely, before storing them in a sealed glass jar, or enclosing them in a sachet bag, or cotton pillow case.

I excluded the “inedible” anemones from this particular drying process, and put them in the compost bin.

If possible, one should never toss out flowers used to decorate icons or the Cross. Do try to compost or reuse them.

Old, blessed pussy willows or Palm Leaves from Palm Sunday, should either be composted, buried, or burned and buried.

Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of colour; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. Praise and honour to God, Who gives life, Who spreads forth the meadows like a flowering carpet, Who crowns the fields with golden ears of wheat and azure basilisks, and the soul – with the joy of contemplation. Let us rejoice and sing to Him: Alleluia. ~ Akathist: Glory to God for All Things, Kontak. 3

May your day be noticeably Fragrant with the Holy Spirit!

The Precious Cross

Basil and garden flowers encompass the Precious Cross, at church.

Greetings on the Beginning of the Dormition Fast, and Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord!

Today is the first of three August Feasts for our Saviour!

In the cross, like light in the sun, is concentrated the Love of God the Almighty for the world and men: in the cross is the whole power of Love. If God, the Father, has given His Son for us, how would He not, with Him, give everything to us… Thus the cross, which we use during prayer, is a token of God’s great mercy to us and an answer to our prayers. The cross is also a weapon for the banishment of spiritual enemies and worldly passions. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

Basil is traditionally used to adorn the Cross, and I try to plant enough each summer. Yesterday, and for the Cross, I gratefully used some of our garden flowers and herbs (Roses, Anemones, Calendula, Fennel, Mint, Basil) as an offering back to the Lord.

God’s flowers are always beautiful, and even more soespecially when they come to praise Him in church!

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad… Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~ Psalm 96:11-12

May your Dormition Fast be filled with fragrant, pious petals!

Sagacity of Silence

Words are instruments of this world, but silence is the mystery of the age to come. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

Silence is the cross on which we must crucify our ego. ~ St. Seraphim of Sarov

Very desirable is the prayer of the heart. Very desirable is the silence of the heart. ~ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

It is good to learn to pray without words, with the breath and beating of our hearts, for silence is the perfect prayer. Silence is the language of God. We learn His language as we do other languages, through listening intently and practicing what we hear. ~ Fr. Antony Hughes

Have Icon, Will Travel

“Travelling” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and our Lord Jesus Christ, on cabin’s dining room table. It is diptych style, with two icons hinged together and a latch door to shut during transit. This beautiful Icon was a gift from our dear friend Elizabeth.

Icons in churches and houses are necessary because they remind us of the immortality of saints; that they live unto Him, (St. Luke 20:38) that in God they see, hear, and help us. ~ St. John of Kronstadt.

Whether camping, glamping, going on a road or business trip, besides having a pre-trip blessing, a portable icon is also important to bring on our travels. (Or to have during a hospital stay.) For years we carefully brought and used a small, blessed, paper Icon when going/staying anywhere.

Upon reaching the destination, place your travelling icon either facing east in your room, or where you will most easily see it for prayer, and to help bring one’s vacationing attention back to God.

If possible, do also bring a small container of Holy Water on your trip for daily use and to also bless your cabin or hotel room, etc. upon arrival. Sprinkle the walls, windows and doorways with it, using the sign of the Cross… each time saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

May the dear Lord bless you on your travels, and bring you back from your journey again in peace, health and safety.

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