South winds jostle them,
Drink, and are gone.
On their passage Cashmere;
I, softly plucking,
Present them here!
Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete, via kindle
Flowers yesterday, flowers today; it’s winter, so why not hover and hesitate, pause for a moment; present them to their maker in loving gratitude. This beautifully arranged bouquet was placed in our room by Karin when we visited her and Winfried, a gesture of love which stays with me although we are long gone!
The worker bees are enjoying the sunflowers, and they don’t mind a long day in the sun. They have more stamina for the heat than I do. Come the winter, when many of these workers will die, my friend P will hang out the sunflower seed heads for the birds. As always, P’s sunflowers are taller than mine by a good metre!
Let us hope and pray that restrictions can soon be lifted and remain lifted on getting together to work the garden and share many activities that are still socially distanced and carried out wearing masks.
And let’s continue to look and see and hear and listen to what is going on around us. And Laudato si’!
It was only at the end of Britain’s National Insect Week that I ever became aware it existed, but I am pretty sure the bees, bugs and beetles won’t mind being translated to July. In my occasional blog, ‘Will Turnstone’ I was able to mark the week on 27 June, its last day:
Here’s a bee, to remind us of how important they are. Thanks to the bees, this pyracantha, or firethorn, will be covered in flaming yellow, orange or red berries come the autumn. Our blackbirds love them. There’s always something to look forward to in the garden. Laudato si!
And if you’ve no garden of your own (and even if you do have a garden of your own) enjoy other people’s as you pass them by. And be thankful for their artistry and effort.
I thought we would celebrate the Feast of Good Pope John with an extract from his writings. In 1962 He wrote to women religious – sisters in other words – a letter called ‘Il Tiempo Massimo’. Here he talks about prayer.
The Church will always encourage its daughters who, in order to conform more perfectly to the call of the Divine Master, give themselves in the contemplative life.
May all of you meditate on this truth, beloved daughters, who are justly called “quasi apes argumentosae” (like industrious bees), because you are in the constant practice of the fourteen works of mercy in sisterly community with your other fellow Sisters. You also who are consecrated to God in the secular institutes must derive all the efficacy of your undertakings from prayer.
The life offered to the Lord entails difficulties and sacrifices like any other form of coexistence. Only prayer gives the gift of happy perseverance in it. The good works to which you dedicate yourselves are not always crowned with success. You meet with disappointments, misunderstanding and ingratitude.
Without the help of prayer you could not continue along on this hard road. And do not forget that a wrongly understood dynamism could lead you to fall into that “heresy of action” which was reproved by our predecessors. Having overcome this danger, you can be confident that you are definitely co-operators in the salvation of souls, and you will add merits to your crown.
All of you, whether dedicated to a contemplative or an active life, should understand the expression “life of prayer.” It entails not a mechanical repetition of formulas but is rather the irreplaceable means by which one enters into intimacy with the Lord, to better understand the dignity of being daughters of God and spouses of the Holy Spirit, the “sweet guest of the soul” Who speaks to those who know how to listen in recollection.
May we all learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit in the silence of our soul. And let’s be grateful for the prayer and work of all the sisters upholding the Church throughout the world.
Yesterday we saw that Cassian teaches the necessity of interior “fasting.” The person who does not practice fasting from cynicism, jealousy, anger and so forth, on the level of his heart, stores up poison there. These vices, largely connected with the way we view our neighbour, are so many offences against love of neighbour, therefore.
For Cassian in the fifth century, as for us in the twenty-first, the wisdom lies in “owning” our problems, as we say now. Then we are less apt to project them onto a friend, spouse, colleague, son or daughter. Cassian goes even deeper. There is a profound benefit to be gained within the vessel of the heart if we own our problems. It changes not only the way we look at others, it changes our very heart. Here is what he advises:
[We] must not seek all kinds of virtue from one person. For there is one adorned with the flowers of knowledge, another who is more strongly fortified by the practice of discretion, another who is solidly founded in patience, one who excels in the virtue of humility and another in that of abstinence, while still another is decked with the grace of simplicity. Therefore [he] who, like a most prudent bee, is desirous of storing up spiritual honey must suck the flower of a particular virtue from those who possess it more intimately and he must lay it up carefully in the vessel of his heart (Institutes 5:IV).
If we can manage to overlook the rather flowery fifth-century language, we can see that this is good news indeed. There is nothing unrealistic here. The person described by Cassian knows that no one possesses every virtue in its fullness. But rather than despairing, or posing as the perennial critic, such a person is beginning to realise that every sign of goodness he finds in others represents a great victory for grace. He accepts that there will be a certain unevenness in the goodness of all people. Still, to recognise what is good in others is to “store up spiritual honey.” This bears fruit on the level of his heart. It becomes “sweet.”