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 

Proven Paths

Traditional Stone Village in Askas, Cyprus by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

In all things let us travel the road laid down for us by the tradition of our elders and by the goodness of their lives. ~ St. John Cassian

Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey – in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life. ~ Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive… One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness. ~ C.S. Lewis

April in August

April the Sunflower – was planted from seed in “the month of” and duly designated as such, by a certain young gardener.

O Christian! Remember this once and for all: 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

As requested… the exciting, and surprising conclusion to the April in July posting, regarding the saga of a Sunflower’s struggle to survive.

Yes, indeed!

April the Sunflower BLOOMS!

Despite April’s previous dramatic turmoils… such as literally losing her head, and having her tiny stem chomped on by marauding beetles – that rascally little Helianthus just soldiered on, undeterred by the grim reaper loitering menacingly (complete with scythe) for weeks, beside the compost bin!

Turning her daily tribulations into a tour de force, April overcame all odds, and has faithfully blossomed forth.

Never wallowing in self-pity, she just kept growing, and doing what any sensible sunflower is supposed to do… No matter what!

Meanwhile, April continues to thrive and provide life-lessons, much to our family’s delight.

It’s no mere coincidence that her sunflower leaves are heart-shaped!

You Grow Girl!

💚

Truly the Light is Sweet

Kaua’i Sunrise 2016

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: ~ Ecclesiastes 11:7

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. ~ Proverbs 4:18

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: ~ Numbers 6:25

Path of God

Ancient pathway Mystras, Greece – 2017

The path of God is a daily cross. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Make your one aim in life the doing of the will of Jesus in every circumstance, however important or trifling it may seem. ~ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Continue your path with courage, with much courage. Let your heart rejoice in the Lord, and He will grant it all nourishment and all energy that is needed so that it does not seem to collapse. Nothing should seem difficult to you. ~St. Luke of Simferopol

We travel many paths in life. With God’s help we make our way along the right one. Sometimes distracting side trails appear, but if we aim to do God’s Will, we discern that most navigational “shortcuts” may trip us up. Meanwhile, God protects us, and our guardian angel is always present.

Speaking of paths, don’t forget to have a trip blessing before starting a new adventure… It’s the best travel insurance! I particularly remember a certain vacation of hiking with my family in the wilds (of B.C.). As I plodded along, my husband and children cavorted far ahead, chatting and laughing. Pretty soon they rounded a bend in the trail, and vanished from sight and sound.

I thirstily drank in the beauty and wonder of God’s nature amid tall fragrant forest firs and birdsong. Beside the path, leaf mould and damp mosses covered ancient nursing stumps sprouting new life… And I realized it was high time to catch up with my family, so I broke into a jog.

About 100 feet into my run, I “was stopped”.

I simply couldn’t move, and literally stood still. Frozen.

Within two seconds of wondering what was going on(?!?), a sudden great crack resounded, and a giant limb of a tree, fell directly across the path, about 10 feet in front of me! It was massive, and fell exactly where I would have been jogging, had my Guardian Angel not stopped me.

Able to move freely again, I was shaken with amazement and gratitude for a few minutes. Crossing myself, I thanked God and my Guardian Angel profusely. (I also remember waving an additional thumbs-up, air greeting of hello – to my Guardian Angel.)

Raucous ravens shook my reverie and I sighed, “Okay, okay, I get it, I’m going!” Adrenaline fuelled an easy straddle of the downed limb as I tore off to catch up to my family.

Grace and Protection abounded on that path… with God’s help ever before me, and my Guardian Angel always beside me. Amen!

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. ~ St. Matthew 10:30

Do not say, “this happened by chance, while this came to be of itself.” In all that exists there is nothing disorderly, nothing indefinite, nothing without purpose, nothing by chance … How many hairs are on your head? God will not forget one of them. Do you see how nothing, even the smallest thing, escapes the gaze of God? ~ St. Basil the Great

Steep and Thorny

Bristling Scotch Thistles

Steep and thorny is the path that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom… Self-love is the soil upon which grow passions, emptiness of life, and sorrow. ~ Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev

Loving only himself, a man loves neither God nor his fellow-men. He does not even love the man that is in himself; he loves only his thoughts about himself, his illusions about himself. Were he to love the man in himself, he would at the same time love God’s image in him, and would quickly become a lover of God and man, for he would be seeking man and God in other men, as objects of his love. Self-love is not love, but is rejection of God and contempt for men, whether open or concealed. Self-love is not love but sickness, a serious illness that inevitably brings other illnesses in its train. As pox inevitably produces fever throughout the body, so self-love produces the fire of envy and anger in the whole body. A man full of self-love is full of envy of those who are better than he is, or richer, more learned or more respected by men. With envy there always goes anger, like flame with fire; a concealed anger, that flares out at times and, in so doing, reveals all the ugliness of the man’s sick heart, that has been poisoned with the poison of self-love… ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Take the example of the earth. Even though it is one, nevertheless, some earth is rocky, some quite fertile. And some is good for vines while other ground is suited for raising wheat and barley. So also are different types of human hearts and wills. Likewise also gifts from above are distributed differently. To one is given ministry of preaching, to another that of discernment, to another the gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9). For God knows how a person is able to fulfill his stewardship and so He gives His various gifts accordingly. In a similar way to the interior battles, the enemy power is permitted to attack humans in the certain measure that each person is able to receive and withstand. ~ St. Macarius of Egypt (Fifty Spiritual Homilies)

Mosaicked Paths of Life

The feature photo is a detail of one of our Church’s outdoor mosaic pathways. Its many individual shapes, and patterns point and intersect in different directions… yet as a whole, it forms a unique and beautiful design.

Such a heavenly morning! There was golden peach of a sunrise to the east, infusing all with a Gladsome light. To the west, a robin egg blue sky was backdrop to a full and splendid rainbow… God’s Beautiful Promise in the sky. Even the gentle raindrops seemed joyful!

Today is a reflection on childhood paths and dreams.

The first Sunday School Scripture I learned as a child was, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

Accompanying this verse was a delightful felt-board illustration, with a glowing Lantern illuminating a winding path with golden Light. My younger self imagined the many future adventures along life’s byways, while keeping close within the Lantern’s safe circumference.

It was around this same age (of 8), I decided that when I was all grown up, one of my paths would be to lead a scientific expedition to rediscover the location of the Garden of Eden.

Having studied Eden’s bearings in the book of Genesis, and after researching the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in my World Atlas… I was pretty pumped at the possibility of meeting the Cherubim Sentries, who wielded a flaming sword, and guarded the Tree of Life.

Preparing for all contingencies, and in a youthful, journalistic haze, I remember drafting vague questions one might ask of Cherubim. However, Backup Plan “B” was also set, as they might just kinda stand there sternly, and silently, doing angel-stuff. It was possible they might even not want to talk to me at all! In that case, the quest would be deemed solely a photoshoot… equipped with my beloved new Polaroid Instant Camera (pictures ready in 60 seconds) for official documentation, and as proof, to some of my friends who didn’t believe in angels.

Logic set my sights on funding needed for Eden, and my paltry allowance of 5 cents per week was futile. It had taken 5 whole months to save up for a 99 cent Troll Doll with fuzzy pink hair, and another whole 5 minutes for it to be stolen during school recess. But…. maybe I could flip our family’s backyard garage into an eatery, and call it the Spaghetti and Garlic Bread Only Restaurant?

Although its only existing entrance was a small crawl space, the redeeming structural solution of course, would be distracting decor. Pretty red and white checkered tablecloths were to be draped over splintered, wooden crate tables, to which the patrons could drag themselves. It was a no brainer, as they would be sitting on the floor anyway at their reserved crates. I made a mental note it might be good to pay attention to the dirt, broken glass, and rusty nails littering the floors.

At the venerable age of 9, I abruptly abandoned becoming a restauranteur, and strategized instead on becoming a secret agent.

It was absolutely crucial to acquire an ivory trench coat, and my enabling mother somehow found a child-sized one at the local Kmart – but not of the coveted colour. I stoically wore the khaki, while my best friend (the analyst) wore a bright kerchief (tied tightly at the nape of her neck) like some Hollywood diva. We spoke in clipped gibberish code to each other. Together, we practiced how to walk surreptitiously – as spies do – when accompanied with the blaring strains of the Pink Panther Theme. Annoyingly, the old record skipped sometimes, which compromised any graceful serpentining around front room furniture. A clandestine drop off (of a copper penny) transpired, and our brilliant asset successfully weighed down the stylus’ needle enough to arrest further hiccups.

Although I never led that wild child’s expedition to re-discover Eden’s geographical location, the interior of our church dome does contain the Tigris, Euphrates, Pison, and Gihon Rivers… depicted as water mosaics! They’re conveniently located above the mosaic lettering from Isaiah 25:9 (in English, ancient Greek, and Slavonic) Behold our God in Whom we hope and rejoice in our Salvation. That He may grant rest to this House.

We make our path by travelling it, and in hindsight, the paths worth travelling are bathed in the golden glow of the Great Artificer’s Light.

All treks and correctional detours have led me right here. Right now. Right where I should be.

Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. ~Psalm 25:4

The soul that loves God has its rest in God and in God alone. In all the paths that men walk in in the world, they do not attain peace until they draw nigh to hope in God. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 56, 89)

Fogbow

Local Fogbow over Ocean

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. ~Isaiah 44:22

– Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”~ James 4:14-15

Sunlight shining through and mixing with the tiny water droplets of thin fog, can create the beautiful phenomenon known as a fogbow, or a white rainbow.

Like the fogbow, sometimes a situation in life may seem opaque. Yet wonder and beauty can exist within the shrouded mist; for God loves us, and knows what’s best.

Let us patiently peer through the haze with hope… faithfully waiting for His Will to be revealed. In God’s Time, the fog will lift – and Sonshine will blaze brightly, clearly illuminating the Right Direction!

Peaceful Paths

Thank you for sharing your Path of Peace photo, Irena.

Christ is Risen!

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her. ~ Proverbs 3: 13 – 18

Truly He is Risen!

Fountain of Life

Hawaiian Beach Sunrise over Lava Rocks, 2014

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ~Genesis 1:3

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. ~ Genesis 1:4

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised. ~ Psalm 113:3

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. ~Lamentations 3:22-23

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ St. John 8:12

It seems that we do not understand one thing: it is not good when we return the love of those who love us, yet hate those who hate us. We are not on the right path if we do this. We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, his children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness towards all. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Thy bridal chamber I see adorned, O my Savior, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter. O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul, and save me. ~Exapostilarion of Bridegroom Matins

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