Hope’s Patient Persistence

Behind the Altar, facing Royal Doors’ Curtain

We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St Nektarios of Aegina

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ~ James 4:2-3

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall… The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.” What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep going all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus Vitovnica

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even to pray. During times of spiritual dryness, it is the faithful perseverance in prayer which is the sweetest of all our prayers to God.

We slip.

We fall.

We rise.

We persevere.

We never give up.

We focus forward.

We don’t look back.

Our life is blessed… God’s gift…. We have a treasure in us – our souls…. ~ Elder Nikolay Guryanov

Blessings On A Snow Day

Feature Image by Irena

Praise the Lord from the earth… fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! ~ Psalm 148:7-8

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. ~ Psalm 51:7

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 59:9-11

Falling snowflakes are beautiful. They swathe our backyard’s bare tree branches with mystique, and envelope everything else in a pure milk-white blanket.

But, to me, a tropical wildflower at heart, I love snow – for maybe all of 10 minutes before vehemently wishing it away.

It’s not my thing. I loathe the cold. Always have. However, it’s part of living in a climate where to every thing, there is a season.

On a recent snow day, I tried to consider the snow as a blessing in disguise. I cranked up my Hawaiian Instrumental “Summer” Music, and fiercely tackled the annual cleaning of a certain Kitchen Drawer of No Return.

Although snow is a love/hate thing for me, I must begrudgingly admit that I do love to go outside, and “listen” to the whispers of falling snowflakes. There’s a peaceful, gentle, and calm stillness… Like the earth is holding her breath, waiting with patient endurance and expectant hope – for there’s always Sonshine above, ready to pierce through those snow clouds… and sweet spring is right around the corner!

…For favourable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord… ~ Litany of Peace

Serenity

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ~ St. Matthew 7:7-8

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:4-8

We know God is with us. Yet, during our daily routines we sometimes forget, perhaps by being caught up in the moment and putting prayer on the back-burner.

Be that as it may, when least expected or deserved, we may catch whiffs of God’s Perfumed Peace – which clearly passes all understanding. This spiritual surprise can come as a warm, fragrant cocoon of inexplicable joy, or as a robe of consolation and quiet calmness.

We may remain tranquilly enveloped for a time, until distracted maybe by wandering thoughts, intrusive imagination, or other mundane, worldly cares – such as the klaxon of an oven-timer beeping that our cake is finally baked.

Regardless, this Magnificent Peace is never, ever, far away. And, when asking God’s help (even with the bread of tears), we can be sincerely thankful during our entreaties, for God knows our heart. He feels our sorrow. He hears our every sigh.

God’s silent, golden, blessings are always close at hand, especially when in simplicity of stillness we open the spiritual eyes of our hearts. And, as with the pure faith of a child – we open the door when our Heavenly Father knocks to let Him in.

Although our efforts may be small and sporadic, sometimes during the quiet of the day or night, our dear Lord gently bestows tantalizing glimpses, by reminding us of how we could always be.

So, as we sprint along the daily, peaceful paths of prayer, may God grant us according to our salvation! Let us yearn each day to become Shiny and New again!

May the rich Abundance of God’s great Mercy continue to direct our ways in the Hopeful Peace from Above – which truly passes all understanding.

Shiny and New

Cleansing rain makes all seem shiny and new again! ~ Kilauea, Kauai 2023

Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
~ Deuteronomy 32:2

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!
~ Psalm 148:1-4

Praise the Lord… Even when its raining!

I love seeing raindrops spill off leaves and bead onto flowers like great globes of iridescent jewels! This beauty is reminiscent of Hope. For, amid afflictions and perhaps stresses of daily life, rest assured – our contrite tears that may fall, are gathered by angels and laid before our Creator’s Feet… Those same Precious Feet which trod Eden’s dusky paths – still fragrant with Petals from Paradise.

It’s said somewhere that we first need the rain before a rainbow appears.

Rain may fall as a gentle mist, or it can be bitingly painful. But, when God’s Beautiful Promise in the sky appears, when that rainbow holds out its shining hand to you, take it… And walk joyfully into the Sonshine of Divine Consolation.

It’s so easy to praise the Lord! For, God’s cleansing LOVE truly makes everything shiny and new again!


Wake the Day With Gladness

This Morning’s Sonshine Broke Through Storm Clouds

Today we commemorate the heavenly birthday of sainted Good King Wenceslas! Many westerners have been introduced to him through an ancient Christmas Carol, retelling one of his miracles.

In this carol, St. Wenceslas helps distribute alms to the needy on the Eve of the Feast of St. Stephen the Apostle, Deacon, and Protomartyr (celebrated on the third day of Christmas); when the churches were opened and yearly collections from the Poor Alms Boxes were dispersed among the needy of the community. This was the original purpose and meaning of Boxing Day!

St. Wenceslas was martyred on today’s date (September 28/October 11) in the year 935. He is buried in Prague. 

A beautiful hymn was penned in the 9th century by St. Joseph the Hymnographer – a Greek monk, and one of the many liturgical poets and hymnographers of the Orthodox Church. The hymn was later translated into English, and woven into the ancient 13th century carol melody used for Good King Wenceslas.

This ancient hymn was also later sung on St. Stephen’s feast day and many other special days of the martyrs. Some churches add on St. Joseph the Hymnographer’s hymn to carol of Good King Wenceslas, as an extra and final verse:

Christian friends, your voices raise.
Wake the day with gladness.
God Himself to joy and praise 
turns our human sadness: 
Joy that martyrs won their crown, 
opened heav’ns bright portal, 
when they laid the mortal down 
for the life immortal.

Whatever we do, let us always try to do our very best to please God our Creator… that we may wake each day with gladness, and rejoice to see heaven’s bright portal break through the clouds… to illumine the way ahead!

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might

Heart’s Journey to Calvary

Image by perfectlypolished1 from Pixabay

The meanings of the Crucifixion Icon explained.

What is Calvary?

Not knowledge you learn, but knowledge you suffer. That’s Orthodox spirituality. ~ Mother Gabrielia

Orthodoxy is life, one must not talk about it, one must live it. ~ St. Nektary of Optina

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day dear Olga! (A brave young woman who fled from Ukraine due to the Russian war) May God continue to grant you many blessings, and many years, Olga! Roses – a Watercolour by Olga.

With Expectant Hope

Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade by Stevan Aksentijevic from Pixabay

With expectant hope,
Come – gentle, quiet, New Year,
With Peace from Above!

Beneath the blue veil
Of night, wisdom traverses
By Star, to Wisdom.

Patiently we wait.
Six silent nights remaining –
Until the manger.

Thank you for visiting Blisswood.

Happy Civil New Year! Happy New You! Happy New Us!

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

As we draw nigh unto the Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity, may we seek and find the True, Healing Peace from Above, within the Bethlehem of our hearts.

With Love in Christ.

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