Warts and All

Nestled in a bed of sweet woodruff, a damaged hosta disregards harmful beetle bites and perseveres growing, to thrive anew.

There are days and times in the life of a spiritual person when he feels an emptiness within himself, a weakness of soul something is missing. Something within him has left, and he does not quite know how to come to himself how to bring back the initial strength and Grace, which his soul had. He does not know how to bring back the fullness which he lost. In this case the Holy Fathers teach us: resume the prayer; begin prayer again either with the mouth, with the mind or with the heart and this lost fullness will return. You will find it again. Provided that you force yourself to Pray.  ~ Elder Ephraim in Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Every choice we make has a consequence. Each day affects the next… but, the past is the past. Although we can’t go back to change the past, sometimes we are trapped within a particular groove that exists in the past. Or, perhaps occasionally, an incident from the past slips in and raises its ugly head to create turmoil in the heart. We know where these temptations come from, so we must be vigilant. Lord have mercy!

It is with Hope’s Patient Persistence, His Infinite and Unconditional Love, and Forgiveness, that we are given strength to proceed beyond the past… Moving Forward with Hope, because…

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

May we wrap ourselves today in the Eternal Present of God and Focus Forward, warts and all – notwithstanding!

Lord, help.

Here I am.

Now.

Greeting you From Earth to Heaven on tomorrow’s beautiful Feast of Christ’s Ascension… where we joyfully exclaim one to another Christ Has Ascended! Let us climb the Mount of Olives in our hearts and declare… Glory to Thy Ascension, O Most Greatly Merciful One!

Riding the Thermals

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

Yestereve I watched an eagle ride the thermals over local sea cliffs. Ignoring the inclement weather and taunting gulls, it persevered, soaring higher and higher, searching a broader scope and clearer vision of the tumultuous ocean below. It was hungry. It needed sustenance. It gently reminded me that when spiritually peckish or famished, we need to remember to unfurl our own little soul-wings… and seek to ride the Life-Giving Thermals of the Holy Spirit… Who uplifts us to sweet, incomprehensible heights, which our own little wings are much too fragile to attain, solely by their own power.

The cause of all preservation lieth in the Holy Spirit. If He think it fit to blow upon a man, He taketh him up above the things of the earth, maketh him grow, and settleth him on high. ~ Matins, Sixth Tone

Happy Feast Day! Today is also the Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, Italy in 1087 AD. St. Nicholas’ other feast day is December 19/6.

Numinous Harmony

Foamy Lace – A Beach Microcosm – the Small within the Great!


The Holy Spirit binds together the separated spirits of each one of us. ~ St. Cyril of Alexandria

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course. ~ St. Boniface

…put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. ~ Colossians 3:14

Sometimes the stars sing me to sleep with their silentness. ~ Shared by Ellie

Where ocean meets shore,
foamy constellations ebb –
eclipsing star shells.

Briny bubbles burst
like salty supernovae
in the waxing tide.

To Merge, to Become –
Triadic Axials of
Harmonic Oneness.

Hope’s Patient Persistence

Behind the Altar, facing Royal Doors’ Curtain

We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St Nektarios of Aegina

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ~ James 4:2-3

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall… The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.” What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep going all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus Vitovnica

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even to pray. During times of spiritual dryness, it is the faithful perseverance in prayer which is the sweetest of all our prayers to God.

We slip.

We fall.

We rise.

We persevere.

We never give up.

We focus forward.

We don’t look back.

Our life is blessed… God’s gift…. We have a treasure in us – our souls…. ~ Elder Nikolay Guryanov

We Need Two Wings to Fly!

Parish Mosaic in Progress: The Dormition of the Theotokos

Prayer is one wing, faith the other, that lifts us heavenward. With only one wing no one can fly: prayer without faith is as meaningless as faith without prayer. But if your faith is very weak, you can profitably cry: Lord, give me faith! Such a prayer seldom goes unheard. The grain of mustard seed, says the Lord, grows into a great tree. ~ Tito Colliander (Way of the Ascetics)

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.

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.

Chrysalis

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Like a butterfly, we struggle to emerge from life’s various transitional states. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we’re stuck. Sometimes there’s no progress whatsoever. Sometimes the chrysalis darkens and dies. But, if we gird up our loins, and punch our way through the cocoon’s tiny hole – to become whole, we begin anew! This challenging exit strategy fortifies our wings, and prepares us for flying. Through perseverance of trials, and with God’s help, we grow stronger!

May God bless our good intentions and efforts!

Moving Forward With Hope

Cave Church Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall… The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.” What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep going all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus Vitovnica

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. While a wound is still fresh and warm it is easy to heal, but old, neglected and festering ones are hard to cure, and require for their care much treatment, cutting, plastering and cauterization. Many from long neglect become incurable. But with God all things are possible ~ St. John of Kronstadt

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!

💚

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