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!

Spiritual Blossoms of the Isles

Heath blooming at Lochinver, Scotland – by Ivor Bond from Pixabay

On the third Sunday after Pentecost we honour all the saints who, during the first millennium, have shone forth from England, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Scotland.

Being of Scottish and Irish heritage, this Sunday is very special to me.

Timeline of Orthodoxy in the British Isles

A Brief History of Orthodox England

We magnify thee, O all ye saints who have shone forth in the Isles, and we honour thy holy memory, for ye intercede with Christ our God on our behalf. ~ Saints of the British Isles Magnification

All Ye Saints of the British Isles pray to God for us!

From the ends of the earth, O Lord, the Isles of the Sea offer Thee all the saints who have shone forth therein as the fair fruit of Thy salvific splendour. Through their supplications and through the Theotokos, preserve Thy Church and Thine Isles in the profoundest peace, O most Merciful One. ~ Festal Troparion for All the Saints of the British Isles

Today the choirs of the saints who have pleased God in the Isles, standeth in the Church and invisibly prayeth to God for us. With them the angels give glory; and all the saints of the Church of Christ celebrate with them, and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Kontakion Tone 3

The saints are shown to be fair blossoms of the Garden of Eden, laden with the nectar of good works and the sweet scent of Orthodox teachings, whereby our souls are fed and our spiritual thirst is quenched, Come ye therefore, let us hasten beneath their shade and let us bless them as the delight and adornment of the Isles, and as a model and pattern for our lives, for they have received unfading crowns of glory and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Ikos

Let all the ranks of saints and angels make glad with us, singing in spiritual choir. They have beheld Our Sovereign, the Queen of Heaven and Lady of the Isles, Who is glorified by all the faithful. And the souls of all the righteous celebrate with them, beholding Her most precious hands stretched forth in supplication beseeching peace for the world, renewal of the Orthodox Faith in the Isles and the salvation of our souls. ~ Stichera of the Saints of the British Isles, Tone 8

O Queen of heaven and Lady of the Isles, to pray to God for us!

Divine Choreography

A Gardener’s Delight!

Final Encore of one diverse Floral Troupe’s whirling, spinning, Petal Pirouette [Pronounced pee-rooet]! ~ photo shared by Melania

Christ is Risen!

Celestial Music
Out of Eternity
Music was heard,
And into Infinity
Straightaway flowed,
All chaos along with it
Taking away.
In the chasm like a whirlwind
The stars began swirling,
Their every ray singing
Like musical strings,
And life, being stirred
By this Divine Vibration,
Shows only to him
Its true inspiration,

Who is sometimes attune
To this music celestial,
Whose mind is wide open,
Whose heart is aflame.
~ Y.P. Polonsky

In the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the godparent holds or follows the newly-illumined (depending on their age) behind the priest, three times around the Baptismal Font, clasping a baptismal candle which symbolizes the Divine Light of Christ. The Procession is like a joyful dance as we embark upon the first few steps of our new life in Christ, while the clergy and choir sing, “As many as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!”

In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the Priest leads the couple in a Procession around the stand on which the Holy Gospel and Blessing Cross have been placed. Here too, the choir sings as the husband and wife take their first steps of holy wedlock together, and the Church (symbolized by the Priest leading the way) will help guide them in the way they should step. This part of the ceremony is sometimes called the Dance of Isaiah or the Dance of Life.

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

Whether with people or in nature, there is a Divine Choreography and it’s on us (of free will) to learn the Qualities of Movement to Life’s Dance of Truth. Through practice, we can move gracefully to any new melody. If we inadvertently have our own toes painfully trod upon during the Great Dance of Life, there is St. Paisios’ dynamic quote: So in every test, let us say: “Thank you, my God, because this was needed for my salvation.” Remembering this helps reset our internal rhythm… it enables us to glide forward… it inspires us to kick up our heels again with joyattuned anew… to the Divine Vibration!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ~ Isaiah 40:8

Marvellous in Our Eyes

The Cranesbill Geranium (we put ours in large patio pots) is a bushy summer perennial with small flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Even curious hummingbirds zoom in for visits! To inspire repeat blooming well into early fall, we prune them back when the initial blossoming period is over… and they provide a long lasting array of peaceful purple.

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. ~ Psalm 118:23

From the creation, learn to admire the Lord! Indeed the magnitude and beauty of creation display a God who is artificer of the universe. He has made the mode of creation to be our best teacher. ~ St. John Chrysostom

It’s amazing. You’re out on a walk or tending the garden, and suddenly a simple flower rivets your gaze! The Echoes of Eden make everything new again. We see that nature is perfect, because God’s Love is perfect. God’s Gift of Nature nourishes us physically and spiritually. We feel the light and warmth of the sun on our face and skin. Summer breezes revive muddled thoughts. Spiritual Fragrance abounds. Through a single flower we remember all is God’s Handiwork, and that Creation’s Planter also lovingly made us. Nature is a Secret Gospel. It refreshes and renews our spirit. How fitting that our first job was to tend and dress the Garden of Eden! Glory to Thee O Lord!

April in July

Image by NatureFriend from Pixabay

Even on cloudy days the sunflower continues to follow the sun in its focused love, even though it cannot see the sun. The Sun that illumines our life’s path is the will of God. It does not always shine on us without clouds, often, clear days are followed by overcast days when rains, winds, and storms arise, No Christian is safe from these phenomena, these changes in spiritual weather. May our love for the Sun, the will of God, be as strong as the sunflower’s, so that even in days of hardship and sorrow, we will continue to sail unerringly along the sea of life, following the directions of the barometer and compass of God’s will that leads us to the safe haven of eternity. ~ St. John of Tobolsk from The Sunflower

Greetings on the 3rd Sunday since the Great Feast of Pentecost! Today all English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Orthodox Saints who’ve shone forth from the British Isles and Ireland are commemorated! Their separate Liturgical Dates and Services are listed here.

Of course, what we know, admire, and aspire to in the lives of the Saints are their examples of faith, perseverance, and endurance… How they struggled to rise above challenges and afflictions, showing us how Christ can be imitated in everyone’s life, including our own. 

I would like to share a continuing story (combo allegory) on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of April… who’s not a Saint, but a saintly sunflower.

Once upon a recent time, a certain girl, on her way home from school, spied and rescued a sprouting sunflower. It sat forlornly in a glass jam jar, on top of a brightly painted Garden Seed Exchange Mailbox.

Being such a cold spring, it was too risky to plant seedling directly into the soil. But, by the end of May, it became warm enough to transplant April the Sunflower (as she was duly dubbed), into our garden.

April’s young human tended her daily. Concerned over her bent, spindly, stem, we gently staked the wee sunflower to a tiny support and hoped for more sun.

Two days later, it was like a crime scene. April had been ravaged by a gang of rogue beetles or slugs. Her crown was viciously chomped off, her stem gashed, and only one remaining sliver of a leaf remained.

We transplanted April into her very own pot away from the garden, and a few days later heaved sighs of relief upon seeing new side growth sprouting… until alas, she was targeted again! Things looked bleak indeed, and it seemed the compost bin might be the valiant sunflower’s next stop… but the young gardener remained hopeful.

For April’s moral support we solemnly popped in a sunflower “sister” seed beside her. (I secretly thought that if April succumbed, the new seed growing alongside her would help soften the blow.)

Nevertheless, and after sprinkling used coffee grounds on top of April’s soil, further gnawings ceased, and we joked that perhaps the java’s success was because the nasty bugs were simply hard-core tea grannies.

Each morning April was thoroughly inspected, watered as needed, and praised with encouraging words. Her young caregiver is the epitome of stalwart optimism. 

April’s “sister” sprouted in sympathetic solidarity. And although April remains bent and scarred, each day gifts us with seeing tiny new leaves emerge and grow. Even her bent, weakened, stalk tries to straighten.

April is teaching us how to persevere by example – no matter how hard things seem, and how to flourish by “looking up”. April continues to thrive, and her youthful gardener knows that while April may never fully recover enough to flower, she’s living vibrantly... in the moment, uplifting up her little leafy arms as if in supplication to the sunshine, regardless.

The young gardener is away on a summer holiday, and I was bequeathed the noble task of attending April. I transplanted April’s sister (and dubbed her “June”) into another pot a couple of days ago. They both needed more space… as sisters sometimes do.

I’m sure that long after April’s sunflowery life passes into God’s Eternal Garden, she’ll be fondly remembered for her inspirational examples of fortitude.

Meanwhile, the young gardener texts me, “How’s April?” and I’ve sent her pictures of April and June in their new, separate digs – much her great relief and satisfaction.

When a certain girl comes home from holiday, I’m pretty sure the first place she’ll zoom to is our patio, to see how April fares… Quite possibly before she seeks to greet or pat her beloved, and much pined-for kitty!

Do stay tuned for the possible, future adventures of – April in August… And keep looking up. There’s Sonshine above those clouds! 🌻

In God’s Garden

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

“...Our place in God’s garden may be a very humble and sheltered spot; but, like the saints, we may keep our faces ever turned upward, and learn to grow, as they grew, like their Master, pure and straight and strong – fit flowers to blossom in the Garden of God...

Saints are like roses when they flush rarest,
Saints are like lilies when they bloom fairest,
Saints are like violets, sweetest of their kind.”

~ In God’s Garden Original Copyright 1907 by Amy Steedman; distributed by Heritage History 2009

Today is the special feast commemorating the 10th Century Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (Axion Estin) and its Ancient Hymn, that’s so special.

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day Nathaniel… Remembering how you were baptised in a beautiful garden, beneath the warm summer sky! May God grant you many years!

In Old English, the word sky was heofan, from which we get the modern word heaven.

Inexpressible Wonder

Our Garden’s Rosa Tropicana (Warm Coral) & English Lavender

It’s been said we may catch glimpses of the Holy Trinity’s Mystery more readily through the temple of our hearts, rather than by using our ineffective, logical minds. Beholding the beauty of God’s Creation – whether in the garden, or a child’s smile, quite simply takes my breath away. When our Heavenly Father already gives us countless aesthetic blessings to delight in, one can’t help but wonder… if this is just earth… how much more beauteous will our Heavenly Home be?! Amen!

You see the Trinity if you see love. ~ Blessed Augustine

Master how could I describe the vision of Your Face? How could I ever speak of the ineffable contemplation of Your Beauty? How could mere words contain One Whom the World could never contain? . . . suddenly You appeared from on high, shining greater than the Sun itself, shining brilliantly from the heavens down into my heart .. . . . What intoxication of the Light! What swirlings of fire! ~ St. Symeon the Theologian hymn

One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD and to enquire in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

In His Garden

Candlelight Streams onto Flowers by the Most Holy Theotokos Icon

We have so many things to be thankful for! Our daily bread, health, family, friends, prayers and kindness from others, and all the so-called ordinary things mistakenly taken for granted – that aren’t ordinary at all.

Children seem more observant of blessings. A mother just shared something precious. Their family baked a Saint Basil’s Day Cake for the Feast yesterday, and her youngest received the special $2 coin hidden in the cake. The thoughtful child insisted the mother take the coin and find a way to give it to the homeless. The child said, “I have everyfing, and some don’t have nuffin’!”

Everything is God’s and we are His guests… although sometimes we feel that everything belongs to us. We become used to His many blessings and blindly expect that all good things are a given.

Nothing stays the same. Everything changes… Except God.

Let’s make efforts to be considerate houseguests appreciating our Divine Host’s Bountiful Blessings.

For, when we’re out in nature, or in church, or going about our daily lives, we are in His Garden, surrounded by the Beauteous Art of Creation.

With opened eyes, we glimpse it… everywhere.

For as long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the Household of Christ. If you are at the table, it is He who treats you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is in His water you are bathing. If you are traveling, it is over His land that you are traveling. If you are amassing goods, it is His goods you are amassing. If you are squandering, it is His goods that you are squandering. If you are powerful, it is by His permission that you are strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out or turn anywhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers. He is the most considerate Householder by Whom you were ever hosted. Be careful then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and glory on earth. ~St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Secret Garden Secrets

Vibrant, Autumnal, Garden Nasturtiums

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. ~ Genesis 2:15

There’s an inherent yearning deep within, to return to The Garden where God originally placed us.

Blossoming backyard gardens and bursting balcony flower boxes have become our private little gazebos for God. Surrounded by nature’s wondrous beauty, we can’t help but worship and extol Creation’s Planter!

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. ~ Genesis 2:7-8

Preparing wild violet seeds to sprout in time for spring, I plunge bare fingers into rich, loamy soil. Earthy, delightful fragrances exude forth, and I’m reminded, For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return… whither all we mortals are going... Alleluia!

Pondering these fleeting thoughts, I thirstily drink in the gardens’ sights, sounds, and myriad of scents. Even in autumn, it’s a living thing, both below and above the soil… organically connected through the roots and tendrils of past, present, and future.

What satisfaction there is living within the gentle furrow of the moment, garnering the herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers that blossom forth!

What joy there is in giving oneself to the garden… To hear its secrets, to harvest its gift of contentment… To reap its sheaves of peace; and to glean and store its spiritual grains of abundance, within the silos of our hearts!

The Gate of Mercy

Children’s Backyard Secret Garden

Repentance is the gate of mercy which is opened to all who seek it. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven, and holy humility opens it… Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience… Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life… Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair… Repentance is purification of conscience… Repentance is a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.~ St. John Climacus

Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers… it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts; Lord, Lord have mercy. ~ St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

I recall an old-time Protestant hymn my grandmother would belt out occasionally… whether pushing a buggy down a grocery store aisle, or washing dishes in the kitchen. I can’t remember the verses, but sure loved its sweet refrain!

🎵 Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary! 🎵

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