May 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is risen!

Sunshine on the dogwood trees
Up and down the country road
Daytime glory and night time dreams
By the blazing woodfire stove

I wrote that verse about my experience of sleeping over at my Papaw Mashburn's cabin up on Higgins Creek. This was the country for sure. An old rickety wooden bridge took us over the creek, down a dirt road, to the cabin and back into the recesses of my mountain family's history. Great Grandma, regal and stern, lived further down the road and at the end was Aunt Ada's house where she lived with all her children. A tree grew right through the floor of the entry way. I remember that. Aunt Ada was a medicine woman (for lack of a better term). My Mamaw told us that we must never name a child after her. Mamaw was a Freewill Baptist and the shenanigans of such a person as Ada were not to be spoken of. To me she was fascinating and a little scary.

The beauty of those Spring days when the snow melt filled the creek and the redwoods, rhododendrons, and dogwoods bloomed pink, white and purple color my memories. There is nothing like nature to awaken the love of God. St. John of Damascus wrote that the whole of creation is an icon of the face of God. I was convinced of that when I was a young boy, although my Baptist upbringing didn't have much to say about it. Orthodoxy does, and for that I am grateful. For me the light of the sun was a mystical thing. I saw God in it. When it illuminated the already incredible forest, the whole of creation burst even more into focus. It was like the fire of divinity. "Every bush is a burning bush." Nature sings!

There is a song sung by the country artist Peter Mayer called "Holy Now." Here are a few lines that speak volumes to me on this theme.

This morning outside I stood
And I saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head ...
Everything is holy now.

If we do not see the Resurrection of Christ shining like a light through transparent nature, then we are missing the point.

With love in the Risen Lord,
Fr. Antony