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!

Bouquets of Our Labour

Late blooming Michaelmas Daisies evoke joy in a past January Garden!

Flowers are indeed the Echoes of Eden, and there are over 250 species of the perennial Michaelmas Daisies which belong to the Aster family. They are a gardener’s delight!

Like the protecting miracles of Archangel Michael whom this flower is named after, it blooms brightly in the early fall upon Archangel Michael’s feast days… as if to battle the coming winter’s gloom.

In ancient Scotland, an old verse about Michaelmas Daisies says: Michaelmas Daisies, among the dede weed, bloom for St. Michael’s valorous deeds!

…each of us… resembles a flower, be it modest or lush, that makes a composition or adds unique fragrance. Altogether, we create a bouquet of our labours, talents, and most importantly, love of God and people – in short, the Church of Christ. ~ Marina Schmeleva

Flowers speak to us of the Love of God. ~ St. Porphyrios

Cultivate
those Petals of Paradise
in our hearts.

Let us bring
Bouquets of Labours to our
Saviour’s Feet.

Spiritual Springtime

Velvet Pansies and Shy Violets Peep Out From Our Window Box
How to Make Old-fashioned Candied Violets

…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:18

Lent is a spiritual springtime… The world of nature is coming alive round us during the Lenten season. And this should be a symbol of what is to happen in our own hearts. The dawning of springtime… We shouldn’t just have a negative idea of repentance, as feeling sorry, gloomy and somber about our failings. But repentance, rather, is new hope. An opening flower. How our lives can, by God’s grace, be changed. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

As the field is adorned by a multitude of flowers, so should the field of my own soul be adorned by all the flowers of virtue ~ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

If you do not shatter and empty your Ego, how will you make room for God?… God’s gifts to us blossom only if watered with the water of Love… Those who love can do only beautiful things. ~ St. Gavrilia

Heading towards the end of the second week of Great Lent, I’m hunkering down and holding fast (with God’s help), hoping to cultivate the spiritual springtime’s fragrant flowers of virtue, and to Blossom Forth!

Perceiving Divine Simplicity

Boulevard Snowdrop Flowers Signal the Nascence of Spring

Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. 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. ~ Staretz Zosima; The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky

…See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. ~ St. Matthew 6:28-29

All created things are marked with the seal of the Trinity... The contemplation of nature has two correlative aspects. First, it means appreciating the “thusness” or “thisness” of particular things, persons and moments. We are to see each stone, each leaf, each blade of grass, each frog, each human face, for what it truly is, in all the distinctness and intensity of its specific being. As the prophet Zechariah warns us, we are not to “despise the day of small things” (4:10). “True mysticism”, says Olivier Clément, “is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.” ~ Metropolitan  Kallistos Ware; The Orthodox Way

Even during a simple walk, it’s a mystery how easily the Great can be seen in the Small. Whether it be stoic flowers bursting through cement cracks, or a cheery family of four snowdrops, popping up like unexpected company – on a grassy boulevard.

God’s beautiful gift of nature is all around us.

All we have to do is to see what we’re looking at.

Happy Saint’s Day Zoe! God grant you many years!

Fragrance of Life

Fragrant Plumeria flower, upheld aloft by neighbouring Heliconia Rostrata leaf. ~ Kauai 2023

Whatever in us that truly lives, exuding the fragrance of life like the blossoms in springtime will never know an autumn of decomposition and death. Those alive in Christ experience an everlasting seedtime of continual growth in faith, trust, hope, confidence, understanding, compassion, awareness, optimism, love, and joy. For them this world is a mere cocoon destined to release the true self on radiant, pure, glorious wings to a world alive with the fragrance of the Holy Trinity. ~ Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky 

Struggle my children, the angels are weaving crowns with flowers of paradise. ~ Elder Ephraim

Lent is spiritual springtime. Not winter, but spring. The world of nature is coming alive round us during the Lenten season. And this should be a symbol of what is to happen in our own hearts. The dawning of springtime… We shouldn’t just have a negative idea of repentance, as feeling sorry, gloomy and somber about our failings. But repentance, rather, is new hope. An opening flower. How our lives can, by God’s grace, be changed. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Petals of Whispered Wisdom

As a perpetual student of flowers, I find their enlightening fragrant grace, simply awe-inspiring!

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? ~ St. Matthew 6:28-29

As the field is adorned by a multitude of flowers, so should the field of my own soul be adorned by all the flowers of virtue; as the trees bring forth flowers and afterwards fruit, so must my soul bring forth the fruits of faith and good works. ~ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

The rose does not speak, but puts forth a strong fragrance. We too, should put forth fragrance, pour forth spiritual fragrance, the fragrance of Christ. The fragrance of our deeds should be heard from far around: good, pure and righteous deeds, full of love. Only thus can the Kingdom of God appear within our hearts, appearing not through words, but with power. ~ St. Luke of Simferopol

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. ~ Akathist Glory to God for All Things, Kontakion 3

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. ~ St. Porphyrios

Whatever in us that truly lives, exuding the fragrance of life like the blossoms in springtime will never know an autumn of decomposition and death. Those alive in Christ experience an everlasting seedtime of continual growth in faith, trust, hope, confidence, understanding, awareness, optimism, love, and joy. For them this world is a mere cocoon destined to release its true self on radiant, pure and glorious wings to a world alive with the fragrance of the Holy Trinity. ~ Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky

Happy Sts. Peter & Paul Day!

July 12/June 29

Icon of Saints Peter (left) and Paul (right).

The long Apostles’ Fast is over!

Greetings on this ancient, joyful feast day, commemorating the Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul. They are celebrated together because of their great roles in the Church as fathers and guides to all Christians.

O first-enthroned among the apostles and teachers of the whole world: Entreat the Master of all, that He grant peace to the world: and great mercy to our souls. ~ Troparion of Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 4)

With hymns of praise let us honour the true preachers of piety, the all-radiant stars of the Church: Peter, the rock of Faith, and Paul, the teacher of the truth and initiate of the mysteries of Christ. For both of them having sown the word of truth in the ears of the faithful beseech Christ God Who giveth fruitfulness unto all, that our souls be saved. ~ Stichera for Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 6)

Remembering the Old English Poem associated with the tradition of harvesting lavender on (or around) this particular Feast Day, we added a small, fresh bouquet of Provence Lavender at the festal icon of Saints Peter and Paul. “If you wish lavender bushy and tall, then tend on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

We have 4 lavender bushes that need “tending”. Their harvested stems are bundled securely into individual bouquets, (but not too tightly, and making sure they’re not damp) then hung upside down (flowers at bottom) to dry in the house, avoiding direct sunlight. It can take about 3 weeks for the stems and flowers to dry. Meanwhile, the house smells amazing! Lavender can easily be made into drawer/closet/car sachets, sleep pillows, or kept/shared as a dried floral wall decoration. If they dry straight enough, you can pop them into a dry vase to keep. I also strip some buds off several stems and put them in a lidded glass jar and stored in a dark kitchen cupboard- for use in… tea, lemonade, vinaigrettes, or baking. During winter use, it’s a joy to remember they were picked on a sunny summer Saints’ Day! Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, pray to God for us!

Culinary Lavender Summer Recipes…
Lavender-Rose Vegan Mini Mochi
Lavender Dream Cookies

Happy Saint’s Day – Reader Peter H.! May God grant you many years!

Memory Eternal – J. Paul T. 🐓 and Paul G.!

Bee That As It May

Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

For me, writing is usually a joy. But during these troubled times it’s a simple fact that on a global scale, this war physically and spiritually affects everyone – everywhere.

It’s been some time now, that I’ve not been able to write for sheer pleasure, but instead, write solely to help me make sense of the world.

Along with countless other people here in North America, the far-reaching ripples of war have profoundly, painfully, and spiritually impacted my personal life… the least of which, leaves me completely uninspired to write much of anything.

But yesterday something extraordinary happened, something that rekindled a bright little light in my heart! And amazingly, the seemingly smallness of this event is what actually makes it Truly Great.

Playing outside, enjoying nature, my grandchildren encountered a bumblebee in distress. Usually a distressed bee when carefully cupped in (un-allergic) hands, and carried to a quiet place to rest – recovers. It can also be revived if needed with a bit of sugar water. After letting the bee rest awhile, most of the time it’s able to fly away and continue its search for flowers.

But, the bumblebee didn’t make it, and one grandchild said with the simplistic wisdom of an ancient sage, “We tried to help, but it was just its time.”

They buried the bumblebee beneath some ferns in their tiny, treasured Fairy Garden. Digging their fingers into the soil, they gently placed the bee into a shallow well, and tenderly tucked vibrant green moss over it. They thanked the bumblebee for all its hard work, and while brushing the bits of dirt off their hands, they considered how many thousands of flowers and all the places that bumblebee must have visited during its life. They pondered how precious and busy ALL bees are. They deliberated on what great examples bees are to us. “Because bees just do what they need to do- for the good of the hive.” Regardless of what’s happening outside the hive.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings! Their wise words, a sudden source for a new story – bubbled up from within, just aching to be shared! It’s the first one that’s come to me in a long, long, time. It sprang up from the simple Faith of children, along with their refreshing pureness of Hope, and Love of God’s creatures.

God’s Gift of Nature is a Healing, Secret Gospel and to everything there is a season! May I keep noticing the sweet “little” things that the Good Lord sends to help nourish the rekindled warmth in my writer’s heart!

Interview with a young Bee Whisperer: “To help exhausted bees, I use 1 tsp. of water and 1 tsp. of sugar. Scoop mixed sugar water into a large eating spoon, and place onto level ground, for bees don’t like to climb while they’re tired. Stand back and let it enjoy the sugar water. It may take awhile, but that’s okay. They like to have their sugar water spoon placed in the sun, not shade, (uncomfortable shade reminds them of the rain) and bees like to keep warm. Sometimes if a bee is tired, and just sitting still on the ground, you can place it on a flower, as they like to be in high places where they feel safe and can easily fly off from. Bees are so important to us humans. They are one of reasons we can actually live, because they pollinate the flowers and we can grow and eat food like fruits and vegetables from the flowers. Bees are one of the animals people are scared of (especially if allergic to bees, because that would be really scary) But, bees are harmless creatures, and seem to know if you’re trying to help. They don’t bite or don’t sting. But, if you squash them they’ll sting. They can’t help it then. I’ve only been stung by a bee when I accidentally walked on clover with bare feet. It’s good to help bees and anything that needs help.”

…the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought. ~ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos

Praying for the Peace From Above.

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.

Apple Blossoms

Apple Blossom Scripture Art created by Juliana

Christ is Risen!

Happy Saint’s Day Irena! May God grant you many years!

Today is also the annual feast of the Wonderworking Icon of the Inexhaustible Cup (Chalice). The Icon’s Akathist to the Theotokos for help with the struggle of various addictions is here.

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.~ Psalm 17:8

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. ~ Deuteronomy 32:10

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.~ Proverbs 7:2

The expression of being the apple of one’s eye comes from the Old Testament, and is translated from Hebrew as little man of his eye… the reflection one sees in the eye of another. In early English translations of the Bible, the phrase appears as apple of his eye. This is derived from the Old English word aeppel, meaning either apple and/or an eye’s pupil. The phrase developed into apple of one’s eye, retaining the original meaning of something being both highly cherished and greatly treasured.

May we blossom forth and wax fruitfully in Christ!

Truly He is Risen!

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