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!

PTL

Aquarium Photo of Jellyfish ~ Shared by Ellie

Scripture Art – Psalm 148

Happy Family Day to my kith and kin… by blood, heart and Holy Spirit.

PTL = 🎵 Praise the Lord! 🎵

Amen!

Surfing the Chunder

Dawn Patrol on Kauai Beach – 2023
Chunder is a surfing term which means totally unsurfable waves.
Mullering means wiping out.

You don’t need to be polite with God, simply pour out your heart before Him. ~ Elder Sophrony of Essex

Never expect anyone to understand you, only God.
~ St. Gavrilia

I pray like this: “Father in heaven forgive me, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, Holy Spirit enlighten me.”
~ Gerontissa (Eldress) Galaktia

Let us remember
that pray’r is the first resort –
not the last resort!

🏄🏽‍♀️

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!

Blessings of Beauty

Collage of leaves and petals from last night’s storm, congregate in a corner outside my front door.

Blessed is God who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of God’s invisible nature. O name of Jesus, key to all gifts, open up for me the great door to your treasure-house, that I may enter and praise you with the praise that comes from the heart. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

The blessings of beauty… It’s here. It’s there. It’s everywhere, and simply seen when we open the physical or spiritual eyes of our hearts.

This morning, I literally opened my front door to a windswept blessing of beauty by He Who walketh upon the wings of the wind.

Thank you, sweetest Jesus – for giving me this splendid morning!

Congratulations dear Anastasia, on your Saint’s Day! May God grant you many years!

May we all see the brightest blessings of Beauty today! It’s everywhere present – and sometimes found in the least likely of places!

A Prayer For Peace on this Remembrance Day

Lord, have mercy!

Spiritual Yum Yums

Photo by Irena

The various patristic texts, which thank God are available by the thousands today, are very helpful. One can find whatever one needs and desires in these books. They are authentic spiritual nourishment and a sure guide on the spiritual path. However, in order to be of benefit to us, they have to be read with humility and prayer… We do not need great knowledge to be devout. If we concentrate and ponder on the few things we know, our heart will be spiritually embroidered. One may be profoundly affected by a single hymn, while another may feel nothing, even though he may know all the hymns by heart, as he has not entered into the spiritual reality. So, read the Fathers, even one or two lines a day. They are very strengthening vitamins for the soul. ~ Elder Paisios the Athonite 

May the Memory of Trees…

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees in Lihu’e-Koloa’a Forest Reserve ~ Kauai 2023

Happy Saint’s Day matushka Nataliya! Congratulations, and may God grant you many years!

Casually, one day, she told us that every morning she was having a “little chat with her young tree”. Another time she said that if we got tired walking, we could stop near a tree and touch its trunk: “It will gladly give you some of the strength God gives it”… ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

After many years I returned to Kauai, and stood once again in a wondrous, tropical Blisswood grove!

Stunning eucalyptus trees thrive in the Lihu’e Koloa’a Forest Reserve… and here, one may curiously discover how refreshing it is to touch those resplendent rainbow trunks.

As my gaze travelled skyward to the tree’s crowning branches, they seemed as graceful arms raised aloft in praise to Creation’s Planter.

Antiphonal Birdsong echoed throughout the forest arboretum. Delicate leaves attached to the trees’ twiggy fingers whispered to each other in the warm trade winds.

Some leaves were loosened, and as if seeming to accept that this was their time, fluttered down trustingly to the ground. A breeze quickly stirred them up again, and with apparent joyful abandon they tumbled away, end-over-end, deeper into the forest… a dance of affirmation and benediction.

I hope to carry this beautiful memory of God’s Creation in my soul, for a long, long, time.

These trees gladdened my heart. They gifted me anew with a peaceful, vibrant jewel of strength, to which I must carefully string yet one more gem of gratitude to the growing strand of a personal, noetic necklace which I sometimes forget to wear… or appreciate.

May we live in more awareness of the Divine Moment and Nature’s Numinous Wisdom – proving His Glorious Presence.

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, let all the trees clap their hands. ~ Sunday of the Cross

With Love in Christ.

From This Day Forth…

Contemplative Sunrise on Kauai – July 31, 2023

For our good, for our happiness, let us make a vow that from this day forth, from this hour, from this minute, let us strive to love God above all else and seek to do His Holy Will. ~ St. Herman of Alaska

Greetings on the Feast Day celebrating the canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska.

Felicitations also, on today’s Feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon! He’s been a helpful blessing for family and friends.

You can read more about these two amazing saints’ lives (including some of today’s other saints) on the Orthodox Calendar, located at the very bottom of each post and page. Daily Scripture readings are listed there too.

Through the prayers and blessed intercessions of our most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints – may God give Help to the residents and tourists on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, struggling today with unprecedented wild fires and evacuations!

Our Crowded Hearts

Image by Bianca from Pixabay

The heart is but a small vessel; and yet dragons and lions are there, and there likewise are poisonous creatures and all treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There also is God, there also are the angels, there – life and the Kingdom, there-light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there. ~ St. Macarius the Great

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere Incognito. ~ C.S. Lewis

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.

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