The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 44

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There is nothing quite like receiving a hand written letter. They have substance and form, they have shape and content. People who write letters take the trouble and the time to choose a card, to buy a stamp, to write in their own hand and post the letter. Sometimes it is interesting to decipher their own idiosyncratic style! I recall a teacher at school who taught all his pupils to write in calligraphic “copper plate” English Roundhand. One always could detect who had been taught by this teacher in their first year at Secondary (High )School!  Letters, like teachers leave a lasting legacy for the recipient too. 

Cards and letters today are often reserved for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas and Pascha (Easter); but how nice it is to receive a note of thanks or a note of encouragement-it lifts the spirit. I received two such cards last week. Writing thank you is so important because first and foremost we are called to be Eucharistic creatures.Whilst e mails and texts are convenient and efficient, they lack a certain permanency.

Some years ago I knew a dear lady who lived in the Parish where I served as priest. She was born in Holland, her father was French and her mother Polish. She had lived in England for many years. Eccentric in a most delightful way, she was kind and considerate of others always writing copious thank you notes to them. She was a voracious reader of poetry and philosophy; speaking fluently in four languages she would regale visitors with amazing stories from her remarkable life. Bedridden now in old age, she loved the trees and the birds outside her cottage. On one pastoral visit, she said to me,  “Father, I would like you to have these letters, you may find them of interest.” She thrust three yellow envelopes into my hand. 

On reading them, I discovered they were thank you letters, one such read… thank you O….. (name),for the beautiful flowers which you placed in our room and the delicious cake which you baked for us, signed………….Winston and Clementine Churchill.

 

I have spoken about my love of trees before, but today apart from their intrinsic beauty in creation, let us thank God for that which they provide us: protection, physical and spiritual formation, recreation, habitation and education.

 

Without trees

 

Without trees, there is no shade.

Without trees, no icons are made.

Without trees, no barbecue for heat.

Without trees, there is no fruit to eat.

Without trees, there is no home for birds.

Without trees, no paper for these words.

 

My children, I don’t want Paradise without you. Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace, and love and has the blessings of God. Consider all people to be greater than yourself, though they may have many weaknesses. Don’t act with hardness, but always think that each person has the same destination as we do. Through the grace of God I consider all people to be saintly and greater than myself.

St Amphilochios of Patmos

 

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Like a Green Olive Tree

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“They went to a place called Gethsemane…”

— Mark 14:32

Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. This garden was an olive grove and it still exists today. Gethsemane means “oil press” in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.

 

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Psalm 52:8  “But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.”

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“Do you know that God gave us one more commandment, which is not recorded in Scripture? It is the commandment “love the trees.“  When you plant a tree, you plant hope, you plant peace, you plant love, and you will receive God’s blessing.” – Elder Amphilochius of Patmos

According to Met. Kallistos, the Elder frequently assigned the penance of planting a tree on the island (Patmos) for those who came to him for confession. His ministry raised up forests as well as demolished the sins of many.