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

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.

O Precious Paradise

Detail of parish Creation Mosaic with scenes from Genesis, and the Expulsion From Paradise ~ Genesis 3:23-24

…O ranks of angels, O beauty of Paradise and all the glory of the garden: weep for me, for in my misery I was led astray and rebelled against God. O blessed meadow, trees and flowers planted by God, O sweetness of Paradise: let your leaves, like eyes, shed tears on my behalf, for I am naked and a stranger to God’s glory. No longer do I see thee nor delight in thy joy and splendour, O precious Paradise…. ~ Canticle 4, Sunday of Forgiveness

…O Paradise, share in the sorrow of thy master who is brought to poverty, and with the sound of thy leaves pray to the Creator that He may not keep thy gate closed for ever. I am fallen, in Thy compassion have mercy on me… ~ Ikos, Canticle 6 – Sunday of Forgiveness

God Forgives and Blessings Abound!

Today is the day before Great Lent begins, and we celebrate with making Blini Crepes or Pancakes to use up the last of any dairy. If you’re already a plant-based person, these Vegan Blini are simply delicious, and easy to make!

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day Zoe! (Feb. 26/13) God grant you many years!

Joyful Ringing of Candlemas Bells

Snowdrop flowers, also known as Candlemas Bells, rang in yesterday’s bright feast, decoratively sitting upon the Icon of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.

As the memory of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not bring about the illumination in the soul. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Christ is our Redemption.

Christ is our True Light.

Standing before God in prayer, we are as newly lit spiritual candles. May our hearts and souls flame radiantly, as we inhale the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit, and may we shine and reflect Christ’s Gladsome Light!

Droplets of Holy Water can be seen on these blessed beeswax candles at the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple; Candlemas.

The Eternal Present of God

Fistful of Fall Pansies in Afternoon Sunlight

In the radiance of His light the world is not commonplace. The very floor we stand on is a miracle of atoms whizzing in space… In a world where everything that seems to be present is immediately past, everything in Christ is able to participate in the eternal present of God. ~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann

The sky is beautiful, but it is so in order that you may bow down before Him who made it; the sun is bright, but it is so in order that you may worship its Author; if you stop at the wonder of creation and get stuck at the beauty of these works, the light will become dark for you, or rather you will have used the light to change it to darkness. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Beauty is never ‘necessary,’ ‘functional’ or ‘useful.’ And when, expecting someone we love, we put a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it with candles and flowers, we do all this not our of necessity, but out of love. And the Church is love, expectation and joy. ~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann

…God, Who fashioned us and brought us out of non-existence into being, has placed us in this life as in a schoolroom to learn the Gospel of His Kingdom. ~ St. Theodore the Studite

With God placing us in this life as in a schoolroom, may we all graduate in heaven!

Beauty of the Lord

Gold Tesserae Awaiting Placement in Parish Mosaic

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Sanctify those that love the beauty of Thy house. Glorify them in return by Thy divine power. ~ Prayer behind the Ambo

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Numinous beauty is found in the physical and spiritual splendour surrounding us!

We perceive God’s grace through the noetic beauty of nature. Our souls sense it when we throw open the doors of our heart and gaze upon the holy icons at Church. We smell it in the sweet fragrance of pure beeswax candles, the bouquets of flowers, and the clouds of billowing incense. We hear it in the joyful voices singing hymns and psalms of praise. We taste it in the Holy Mysteries, the antidoron and prosphora. We experience His Mercy of Peace through the powerful permeation of communal prayer at Divine Liturgy.

Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote: Beauty will save the world.

True Beauty points to God… Who exudes and transcends Inexpressible Beauty in everything, through the Glorious, Gladsome Light of His Divinity!

Enlighten My Darkness

Set our hearts on fire with love for Thee O Christ our God, so that in its flame we may love Thee with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength, and our neighbours as ourselves, so that by keeping Thy commandments we may glorify Thee, the Giver of all good Gifts. ~ Unknown

O Lord, enlighten my darkness. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

As the burning candle illuminates the darkness, so must the light of Christ within us shine before men that God’s name be glorified. ~ St. Symeon of Thessaloniki

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