Pining For the Green

Kilauea, Kauai ~ July 2023

Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace, and love and has the blessings of God. ~ Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit)

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

It’s that time of year again!

February brings
keen yearnings for the verdant
em’rald greens of spring.

Tiny tentative
tight fuzzy fronds of patience
cling to hopeful vines.

Tired of deciduous difficulties… it’s with faith and hope that we can patiently await the eternal, spiritual springs of God’s help!

Blessings On A Snow Day

Feature Image by Irena

Praise the Lord from the earth… fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! ~ Psalm 148:7-8

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. ~ Psalm 51:7

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 59:9-11

Falling snowflakes are beautiful. They swathe our backyard’s bare tree branches with mystique, and envelope everything else in a pure milk-white blanket.

But, to me, a tropical wildflower at heart, I love snow – for maybe all of 10 minutes before vehemently wishing it away.

It’s not my thing. I loathe the cold. Always have. However, it’s part of living in a climate where to every thing, there is a season.

On a recent snow day, I tried to consider the snow as a blessing in disguise. I cranked up my Hawaiian Instrumental “Summer” Music, and fiercely tackled the annual cleaning of a certain Kitchen Drawer of No Return.

Although snow is a love/hate thing for me, I must begrudgingly admit that I do love to go outside, and “listen” to the whispers of falling snowflakes. There’s a peaceful, gentle, and calm stillness… Like the earth is holding her breath, waiting with patient endurance and expectant hope – for there’s always Sonshine above, ready to pierce through those snow clouds… and sweet spring is right around the corner!

…For favourable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord… ~ Litany of Peace

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!

Reflection of Their Grace

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Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fullness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. ~ St. Basil the Great

His Infinite, Unconditional, Love

Hanalei Church windows absorb and reflect the early evening’s Divine, Gladsome Light.

God is everywhere. There is no place God is not…You cry out to Him, ‘Where art Thou, my God?’ And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.’ Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, ‘God!’ In Him we live and move. We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God. Everything praises and blesses God. All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord! ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in that present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach. ~ Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) 

I cannot reflect on what is past, because I live in the present moment… Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow belongs to God, as yesterday did… So I keep quiet in God’s Eternal Present!... ….By living in yesterday we delay tomorrow’s march. We cannot live in the past which does not exist, and so give it existence it does not have… ~ St. Gavrilia (Gerontissa Gavrilia)

What has happened has happened, it is in the past. Just keep on going, all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We slip.
We fall.
We pull ourselves up again.
We persevere.
We keep walking toward God.
We focus forward.
We don’t look back.

God is right here! Right now!

We are so blessed!

God loves us! Infinitely! Unconditionally!

He loves us SO much that He’s given us free will in every aspect of our life, and won’t interfere at all, unless we choose to ask Him in, and wrap ourselves in the Eternal Present of God.

May your path today be Divinely Inclusive, and imbued with His Illuminating Light!

With love in Christ.

Shuttled Sagacity

Coconut Sunrise beach photo shared by Owen ~ Kauai 2023

Behave with people as you would if Christ were present. And so, you will never have regrets for anything or anyone. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.

But, sitting in the front row of an airport shuttle bus, I couldn’t help but overhear another passenger’s glum observation (directed to the driver), on the difficulty of a certain situation.

The shuttle driver paused a moment to consider the remark, then sincerely and somewhat amusedly said…

“Well, like I tell my kidsNothing’s hard – unless you think it’s hard!

I Cluck. Therefore I Am.

Raindrops dot flowering Thunbergia Laurifolia vines overhanging tiered lava rocks. Kauai ~ 2023

Kauai is vibrant and beautiful. In my opinion, it’s the most Heavenly Island on God’s Green Earth.

However, along with the spectacular scenery, wonderful generous people, and tropical songbirds… there are also thousands of feral chickens and roosters everywhere!

These feathered creatures seem compelled to serenade the sleeping masses of humanity, sometimes as early as 3 am.

Lying drowsily in the predawn darkness, being treated to incessant crowing, chatty clucking, boisterous cackles, and hiccupping squawks… One (somewhat) amusedly ponders the logic of their little bird brains’ internal chronometers – channelling the mainland’s West Coast Time Zone? (3 hours ahead of Island Time)

Cocky Rooster Crashes Kapa’a Cafe

It’s a blessed relief to fall back asleep to the redeeming white noise of a pre-sunrise tropical rain shower, or the rattle of palm fronds rustling in the warm trade winds.

Without a doubt, chickens rule the roost in Kauai. Their competitive cacophony is heard everywhere… Whether strutting through restaurants, or scooting daringly across the proverbial road to the other side! I must admit though, the mother hens and chicks were darling. They almost broke me.

There was a fascinating book at the vacation home – An Ocean in Mind with some (fittingly) amazing quotes by Steve Somersen.

There’s a world out here that I didn’t know anything about until forced into it by my choices. Analytic thinking alone cannot bring understanding, and I’m glad of that. We aren’t searching for understanding, but understanding is coming as a result of the search. ~ Steve Somersen (An Ocean in Mind, by Will Kyselka)

I’ve used another of his poignant quotes as text on the feature beach image of my post No Matter Where…

Meanwhile, I’m home again, and have come to the stunning, perplexing conclusion I actually miss hearing those foul rascally fowl!? They cluck. Ergo sum. Go figure!

No Matter Where…

Moloa’a Bay Sunrise on Kauai – July 2023

God travels our road,
and no matter where we go…
our angel’s there too!

I’m out of practice with international travelling. It’s been a few years!

Thankfully, we received a trip blessing before departure on our recent and amazing family vacation – which began with a huge hiccup at a connecting airport… with hundreds waiting in line to go through customs, (many apparently) for a Taylor Swift concert.

I accepted the possible inevitability it was God’s Will we might miss our next flight. There was nothing to do but patiently go through the long process. In the near 2 hour line up, I found myself quietly humming Lord Have Mercy a prayer of the heart I’d taught the Youth Choir – who sang it (as recorded below) at concert, during Palm Sunday Liturgy this year.

Lord Have Mercy Hymn – Youth Choir 2023

This serene piece (possibly hummed several hundred times while waiting in line) calmed me, and it seemed I could almost hear the Youth Choir’s precious voices singing along, as if in accompaniment!

In a nutshell… once passed security, we made a desperate, sweaty 10 minute dash (dragging our carry-on), and actually boarded the plane shutting its doors! Whew! Six hours later we arrived safely in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii.

Mahalo ke Akua (thanks be to God)!

Be that as it may, it was still surprising and disconcerting to remember (I’d conveniently forgotten) that no matter where we go, we always manage to pack along our imperfect inner selves. Ack! There’s no escaping this, even on holiday in paradise!

Familiar foibles sneakily surfaced, and (unless constantly playing in the ocean) the high humidity magnified an existing (hard to believe I’m sure, ha-ha!) grump factor.

Our travel icons on the lanai – Kauai 2023

With my comfort zone challenged, I happily rediscovered that conscious repetition of Thank you God inspires true appreciation of His Creation.

Sincere gratitude helped me explore and happily embrace more unexpected adventures as they came during our vacation.

All in all, it was a joy to share new and meaningful experiences with loved ones. And, with apologies to my long-suffering Guardian Angel… I learned to embrace higher humidity!

It’s good to go – and good to come home… and very good to gird up one’s loins to resume the Me Battle again!

Mahalo for visiting Blisswood! I hope this finds you well.

With much Aloha in Christ! ❤️

Heart’s Journey to Calvary

Image by perfectlypolished1 from Pixabay

The meanings of the Crucifixion Icon explained.

What is Calvary?

Not knowledge you learn, but knowledge you suffer. That’s Orthodox spirituality. ~ Mother Gabrielia

Orthodoxy is life, one must not talk about it, one must live it. ~ St. Nektary of Optina

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day dear Olga! (A brave young woman who fled from Ukraine due to the Russian war) May God continue to grant you many blessings, and many years, Olga! Roses – a Watercolour by Olga.

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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