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…

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!

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!

Heavenly Snowdrops

…but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. ~ Proverbs 11:28

Yesterday’s walk was exhilarating!

Cheerful Snowdrops are springing up everywhere!

Old English names for Snowdrop flowers are Christ’s Flowers, Purification Flowers, Candlemas Bells, and Fair Maids of February. They are named as such, in honour of the ancient (upcoming) feast day of The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple! (February 15/2)

God’s Gift of Nature physically and spiritually nourishes us.

We rejoice in the sun’s warmth on our face and refreshing gentle breezes that sweep away cluttered, wintry thoughts.

Through a single flower, we remember all is God’s Handiwork, and that Nature is a Secret Gospel.

Spiritual Fragrance abounds! And… regardless of debris from recent storms, we notice it’s the new and verdant growth that bears the precious blooms in God’s Garden!

Sometimes – a glimpse of Paradise is right outside our back door!

Happy Saint’s Day Maximos, God grant you many years!

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!


Privilege of Prayer

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

No matter what misfortune might befall you, no matter what unpleasantness might occur, say ‘I will endure this for Jesus Christ’s sake!’ Just say that, and you will feel better, for the Name of Jesus Christ is powerful… Before It, all difficulties abate, and demons disappear. Your annoyance and faintness of heart will abate when you repeat His most sweet Name… ~ St. Anthony of Optina

When life hurls kitchen sinks our way; duck, cover, carry on, and ask God for help!

Or, we can choose to sit like a bump on a log, waiting for help to be doled out like a grand prize, as if it’s our due… because why should we have to ask for help? Doesn’t God know everything, anyway?

We are indeed given free will. God wants us as collaborators, and it’s up to us to decide whether to ask, or not ask for help. Even if we’ve never asked for help before! God loves us, truly loves us, and waits patiently for us to come to Him.

I’d like to re-share these short, powerful, (tried and true) prayers, to use when sucker-punched with anxiety over any (or constant) painful situation that rears its ugly head, or even if we’re not quite sure of what to pray for someone:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on (fill in the blank)!

Or… Lord, help!

Or…

O Lord, You love (name) more than I,
And You can help (name) better than I,
And You know better than I, what is profitable for (him)(her).
So do for (name) what is best- only save (him)(her).

The short prayer above “O Lord, You love” is so very helpful, and positively over-rides useless, worrisome thoughts that may otherwise spin those windmills of our mind out of control. It also helps teach how to pray for someone when we’re not sure of how to pray. Feel free to add on your concerns in your own words. Unselfish, heartfelt prayer is prayer.

Prayer helps us to Faithfully endure uncertainties.

The Powerful and Sweetest Name of Jesus imbues us with Strength.

St. Gavrilia, the newly canonized saint (Oct. 3, 2023) whom I deeply revere, says in The Ascetic of Love (page 246):

When we… think of those for whom we wish to pray, we are induced to so by love. “Lord, You are the Source of Love. It is from this Source of Love that I draw too, and I offer you this person. Lord, I pray to You, grant him [her] Your Light, grant him Your Mercy, grant him Strength, grant him Faith, grant him all the abundant Blessings that You grant. All I can offer is my humble love.” After this introduction, you take a knot of the Komboskini [Prayer Rope] and say: “I pray for so and so… and for so and so…” visualizing each of these persons at the Feet of Christ, praying on their knees before Him – themselves in person, as the anonymous author of the Way of a Pilgrim says. I have long years of experience that with this prayer God works many miracles. Because God wants us as <<collaborators>>, no matter how worthless we may be. For we are His Creatures, and it is with these Creatures of His that He has to work…

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’s nothing is quite so precious as our praising God, even in adversity, and to humbly show gratitude thanking Him for all His Blessings… and for hearing us (even if the situation currently seems unresolved)! Because He HAS heard us, and WILL DO what’s best, according to His Plan.

What a privilege to carry what weighs upon our hearts to the Lord in prayer!

Through the prayers and intercessions of our most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, our Guardian Angels, St. Gavrilia, and all the saints… thank you dear Lord, for hearing our prayers!

Amen!

Autumnal Prayer

Image by Joe from Pixabay

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14

November 27/14

Happy Eve of the Nativity Fast!

Tomorrow we begin our spiritual pilgrimage into the Advent season… to contemplate the upcoming Great Feast of Christ’s Incarnation.

Just like Great Lent is before Easter/Pascha, the ancient Nativity Fast is a reflective, joyful time for spiritual preparation – nourished with prayer, love of one’s neighbour, and generous almsgiving.

Each fast is fresh, new, and a collective reminder to shift focus away from oneself, and onto the needs of others, instead.

Together we’ll begin the late autumnal journey with sweeping the dried leaves and debris away from body and soul.

We fast before we feast, and the feasting aspect is saved to start on the actual Nativity Feast Day itself, including the following bright “12 days of Christmastide”.  

May your Nativity Fast be peaceful and fruitful!

With love in Christ.

A Shining New Saint!

Mother Gavrilia (Gabriela) Public Domain Photo from OrthodoxWiki

It gave me the greatest joy to learn yesterday (October 3, 2023), that Eldress (Gerontissa) Mother Gavrilia was canonized a saint!

Her Feast Day is the date of her Heavenly Birthday, March 28th.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love has been added to the Synaxarion.

While it’s “official” now… I’m thrilled, as she has helped me and so many others “unofficially” – for quite some time.

Her inspiring, joyful quotes are salt and peppered throughout Blisswood, flavouring the various postings. (View by the “Gerontissa Gavrilia quote” tag in other posts)

Although this amazing, inspiring, book is currently and sadly out of print, I highly recommended it at a recent parish sisterhood meeting.

Given that Mother Gavrilia was just canonized, God-Willing, there may well be new publication(s) of this book!

Added new note November 29, 2023: Yes you may order the new editions here through Not of This World Icons and Books at Holy Dormition Orthodox Church!


It was a delight reading this conglomerate of practical, encouraging letters to laypeople and friends over the decades, including priceless, pearls of wisdom to her fellow nuns, when she later became a monastic in her 60’s.

Mother Gavrilia saw Christ in everyone, and was imbued with sincere, simple, Christian love… a verdant, precious example to other Orthodox Christians and to those of different faiths.

She LIVED her Faith in Pure Love.

Now the worker of love the revered ascetic Gabriela, who is our aid in misfortune and succour in mortal hardship, the missionary of Christ, let us be wakeful in offering her impressionable hymns, that she may entreat the Creator on our behalf who bless her. ~ Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone

Fervent love joined with humility, you lived in the world but lived outside the world, praying and offering herself as a sacrifice to Christ, to her we ardently sing hymns, the divinely luminous Gabriela, the ascetic, crying out with longing: Rejoice, mother inspired by God. ~ Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone

A bright lamp and ray of missionaries, a new boast of ascetics, for your fiery love towards your neighbour, we cry out to you with longing, Gabriela. ~ Megalynarion

She is now closer than ever!

Reach out to her and she will come quickly and lovingly to your aid… leaving the Peace from Above and Joy in her wake.

Through the holy intercessions of our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love, O Christ our God, have mercy on us, and save us!

Amen.

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.

Riding the Morning Winds

The Breaking Dawn ~ Kauai 2014

If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. ~ Psalm 139:9-10

Praise the Lord, O heavens! Praise him from the skies! Praise him, all his angels, all the armies of heaven. Praise him, sun and moon and all you twinkling stars. Praise him, skies above. Praise him, vapours high above the clouds. ~ Psalm 148: 1-4

Praise him from sunrise to sunset! ~ Psalm 113:3

Praise him, all heaven and earth! Praise him, all the seas and everything in them! ~ Psalm 69:34

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