Making Headway in the Headwinds

Scene from recent walk on a chilly, blustery day.

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come. ~ C.S. Lewis

Time is definitely shorter than we think, and we simply can’t afford to put off attaining our goals by waiting for Life’s Welcome Mat of Perfect Circumstances to be dusted off and tossed casually at our feet.

Tomorrow never comes.

There is only now... and Patient Endurance is our Cross, best shouldered with Hope’s Persistence.

There is only today for actions and efforts.

Stunning Self-Reminder: Take one step. Then another. And another. Just keep doing! We can only meet God in the Eternal Present.

May we diligently persevere in Life’s Headwinds… rejoicing that there’s always Sonshine above those stormy clouds and Providential Tailwinds in unexpected places!

Petals of Whispered Wisdom

As a perpetual student of flowers, I find their enlightening fragrant grace, simply awe-inspiring!

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? ~ St. Matthew 6:28-29

As the field is adorned by a multitude of flowers, so should the field of my own soul be adorned by all the flowers of virtue; as the trees bring forth flowers and afterwards fruit, so must my soul bring forth the fruits of faith and good works. ~ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

The rose does not speak, but puts forth a strong fragrance. We too, should put forth fragrance, pour forth spiritual fragrance, the fragrance of Christ. The fragrance of our deeds should be heard from far around: good, pure and righteous deeds, full of love. Only thus can the Kingdom of God appear within our hearts, appearing not through words, but with power. ~ St. Luke of Simferopol

Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of colour; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. ~ Akathist Glory to God for All Things, Kontakion 3

Take delight in all things that surround us. All things teach us and lead us to God. All things around us are droplets of the love of God – both things animate and inanimate, the plants and the animals, the birds and the mountains, the sea and the sunset and the starry sky. They are little loves through which we attain to the great Love that is Christ. Flowers, for example, have their own grace; they teach us with their fragrance and with their magnificence. They speak to us of the love of God. They scatter their fragrance and their beauty on sinners and on the righteous. ~ St. Porphyrios

Whatever in us that truly lives, exuding the fragrance of life like the blossoms in springtime will never know an autumn of decomposition and death. Those alive in Christ experience an everlasting seedtime of continual growth in faith, trust, hope, confidence, understanding, awareness, optimism, love, and joy. For them this world is a mere cocoon destined to release its true self on radiant, pure and glorious wings to a world alive with the fragrance of the Holy Trinity. ~ Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky

Neither Eye Nor Ear

Image by 12019 from Pixabay

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret. For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvellous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God’s generosity towards us. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

Alleluia and Amen!

Image by Laila from Pixabay

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

What a joyful consolation … especially with the constant change in our lives!

I love you, O Lord, my strength. ~ Psalm 18:1

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. ~ Psalm 100:1-2

Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light… ~ Psalm 148

Let every thing that has breath Praise the Lord! ~ Psalm 150

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ St. John 20:29 (This blessing includes ustoday!)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:18-20

Alleluia and Amen!

If you ever have the chance to watch the classic 1963 movie: Lilies of the Fielddo! It’s a heart-warming story starring Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith – a staunch Baptist, who winds up in Arizona, crossing paths with a convent of destitute nuns who emigrated from Eastern Europe.

The simple, contagiously joyful song Amen featured in the movie is an easy warm up I sometimes use at Youth Choir rehearsal, before turning it into a three-part “round”. The effect is amazing. We sing the repeated “one-word-prayer” Amen (just the part which the nuns sing in the movie) but use the softer sounding Awh-men pronunciation.

Over the years, the youth choir share they’ve often found themselves singing or humming this happy little piece (along with other psalmody of course) at unexpected times. Including… getting up for a glass of water in the middle of the night, or doing daily house chores, or driving in the family car on long, long, road trips!

Happy Summer! Amen!

Before praising God in private, before psalmody is truly prayerful, the song of the lips must first become the song of the soul. ~ Anonymous

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.

Simplicity of Heart

Strolling through California Wildflowers ~ shared by Anastasia

Christ is Risen!

Today is also St. Basil of Ostrog’s Feast Day!

… You want to taste a moment of joy from God. What’s the secret here? Suppose you believe that, if you ask, you’ll receive the joy. ‘He can’t help but give it to me’. But He doesn’t. And you yourselves are the reason why. It’s not that God doesn’t want to give, but the secret is your own simplicity and gentleness. If you’re lacking in simplicity and you say: ‘I’ll do this and God will give me what I’m asking’, it won’t happen. Do everything simply, gently. Don’t do things with an eye on the outcome. Don’t say: ‘I’ll do this in order to get that result’. Just do it gently, without knowing you’re doing it. In other words, pray simply and don’t think about what God will give you in your soul. Don’t keep tabs. Don’t discuss it with yourself. When you say the Jesus Prayer, do so gently and simply and don’t think about anything else except the prayer. Let your heart be simple… let it be good… Everybody seeks a good and simple soul; they find solace in it; they approach it without fear, without suspicion. And that soul itself lives with inner peace, has good relations with other people and the rest of creation. ~ Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. He is Joy, He is Life, He is Light. Christ is Everything. He is the ultimate desire, He is everything. Everything Beautiful is in Christ. ~ St. Porphyrios

If you have the opportunity to read Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Saint Porphyriosplease do, it’s amazing! The book is an anthology of his letters and writings.

Sharing this sweet old folk hymn on the beautiful Joys and Gifts of Simplicity

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘Tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed,
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning, we come ’round right.

Striving to seek the Lord in simplicity of heart…
With love in Christ.

Truly He is Risen!

With Expectant Hope

Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade by Stevan Aksentijevic from Pixabay

With expectant hope,
Come – gentle, quiet, New Year,
With Peace from Above!

Beneath the blue veil
Of night, wisdom traverses
By Star, to Wisdom.

Patiently we wait.
Six silent nights remaining –
Until the manger.

Thank you for visiting Blisswood.

Happy Civil New Year! Happy New You! Happy New Us!

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

As we draw nigh unto the Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity, may we seek and find the True, Healing Peace from Above, within the Bethlehem of our hearts.

With Love in Christ.

Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Image by Taken from Pixabay

Orthodoxy is a faith that is deep enough to allow her believers to confront the complexities of our human experience, while at the same time recognizing that not all is understood in this life, but viewed as a Mystery. So, the view that believers never doubt, is simply not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather the vehicle by which we are challenged to go deeper into the Mystery that is true faith. Nothing keeps we true believers from struggling with uncertainty, for it is this very uncertainty that keeps us from complacency. Complacency is the true enemy of faith, and the inhibitor of spiritual growth. It is complacency that keeps us from the Kingdom of God, and the joy that comes when we are in Communion with Christ. It is not a question of choosing sides, but of surrendering to Divine Wisdom. ~ Abbot Tryphon

In the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church, Wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos (God the Word), Who became Incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Greek, Ἁγία Σοφία (Hagia Sophia) is defined “Holy Wisdom” meaning “Jesus Christ”…The Wisdom and Power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1: 24,30; 1 Corinthians 2:7

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. ~ First chapter of 1 John

Shared by a friend…
Some Aspects of Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Surrender = Conscious, Willing, Choice.
Surrender = Unconditional Seeking Refuge within the Divine.
Surrender = Faith.
Surrender = Effort.
Surrender = Hope.
Surrender = Love.
Surrender = Trust.
Surrender = Strength.
Surrender = Recognizing Blessings.
Surrender = Gratitude, Thankfulness.
Surrender = Action with Consistent Prayer.
Surrender = Communication.
Surrender = Understanding that Christ Knows What’s Best For Us.

Accepting God’s Will = Learning to let go, and let God!

One step at a time… It’s a lifelong process!

Deeper Into the Mystery

Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

…it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Orthodoxy is a faith that is deep enough to allow her believers to confront the complexities of our human experience, while at the same time recognizing that not all is understood in this life, but viewed as a Mystery. So, the view that believers never doubt, is simply not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather the vehicle by which we are challenged to go deeper into the Mystery that is true faith. Nothing keeps we true believers from struggling with uncertainty, for it is this very uncertainty that keeps us from complacency. Complacency is the true enemy of faith, and the inhibitor of spiritual growth. It is complacency that keeps us from the Kingdom of God, and the joy that comes when we are in Communion with Christ. It is not a question of choosing sides, but of surrendering to Divine Wisdom. ~ Abbot Tryphon

Let Us Make a Joyful Noise!

Image by mokca from Pixabay

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ~Psalm 100:1-5

…but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… ~ Ephesians 5:18-20

Nothing elevates the soul, nothing gives it wings as a liturgical hymn does… We should offer up doxologies to God with fear and a contrite heart, in order that they may be accepted like fragrant incense… Nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wing, sets it free from the earth, releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom… as concordant melody and sacred song composed in rhythm. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will soar like a young eagle high in the heavens. Psalmody calms the passions and curbs the uncontrolled impulses in the body. ~ Evagrios the Solitary

To sing is to pray twice. ~ St. Augustine

Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit come, sanctifying the mouth and the soul. ~ St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Sing to God in love and humility of spirit, for the Lord rejoiceth therein. ~ St. Silouan the Athonite 

Only ecclesiastical music can express the secret movements of the heart, which are completely different than what worldly music expresses. For this reason the two kinds of music are totally different, just as shown by the words: “sing” and “chant.” ~Photios Kontoglou

In case you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful site of hymnody (in multiple languages), please enjoy: The Rudder Internet Radio Station Streaming Orthodox Music 24/7

May your day be harmoniously tuned with the Spirit… in holy, heartfelt psalmody!

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