Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry…

easter bouquet 2

Your job, then, should you choose to accept it, is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship — just so long as those prayers are sincere. As one line from the Upanishads suggests: “People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate — and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Happy Easter! (…or Happy Easter week if you took a break and are reading this a few days after Easter!)

While  I was out shopping for ingredients for a special feast – Easter day and a family birthday – I saw those flowers above and melted. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully for the most part, to cut down on caffeine and wine, so flowers have been my replacement drug of choice. Oh how I wish you could stick your face in these and smell the jonquils; they’re so heady it’s like drinking in  fragrance and they make you raise your shoulders with breathing them in then you sigh out pure bliss…

It’s been a funny old Easter this year. When Greek Orthodox Easter and western Easter fall on the same day, it means that my kids’ candles and presents, sent by godparents in Greece, arrive at the same time as their chocolate Easter eggs from grandparents here. We normally have to have two celebrations. Today’s also a family member’s birthday, yet one of my kids is away on a special county-level music course, an honour and experience we were loathe to ruin by insisting on an Easter weekend spent together. I think God would smile at the sound of children celebrating the resurrection with choral harmonies, triumphant brass bands and soaring strings.

0904100002We have a feast on Easter day, with red  boiled eggs, traditionally dyed and decorated on the Thursday before Easter, and all kinds of salads and a roast. I miss being in Greece on the Friday before Easter as that’s when church bells toll mournfully, the whole day long, on every island and in every village, town and city. I also miss being part of Anástasi  – the Resurrection – on the Saturday night.

At midnight, the first few candles in each church are lit from the holy flame then one worshipper ignites a neighbour’s candle with love and chanted blessings – Christ is risen, truly risen – until everyone’s taper is lit. Happy crowds carrying  flickering candles walk home from church, like riversrust seaside candle of light winding through the darkness while fireworks explode into dazzling bouquets above their heads in a vast black velvet sky.  It’s good luck if you manage to keep a candle lit all the way home then mark the sign of the cross with smoke on the lintel above the front door as a blessing to last the whole year.

pink seaside Easter candleMy kids’ godmothers – who live in different seaside towns and have no contact with each other – both sent them beautiful seaside themed candles that match their rooms.

I’d like to leave you today with one of my favourite poems in the whole world, ee cummings’ i thank you God…

As I said in my post on April 12th last year, “I love the way ee cummings’s mind moves. I love the way he makes me explore the possibilities of my own language, searching for meanings in what’s not there and the why and the where of what is there. I love his delight in words, letters, syntax, symbols and sound and the way he expresses life and love.”

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Janice

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I’m celebrating my blog birthday by reminiscing!

This time last year, I posted….

 

22 thoughts on “Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry…

  1. I can almost smell the flowers! Beautiful!

    What amazing traditions to keep. I don’t know why, but Easter was just a holiday to get out of school when I was growing up. The powerful message only hit me in my later adult years, so the impact is still more important than the day. But then again, who says traditions can’t start at anytime?
    .-= Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..Visit my guest post on life as a black belt =-.

  2. Happy Easter, Lori! I wish you could smell them; the scent has filled the house!

    I agree about traditions. I’m a bit of a ceremony magpie; I ‘borrow’ any I like from other cultures, like Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions from all over the world. But Easter is special. I found it difficult to choose cards this year as most of the Easter cards in the shops only had bunnies, spring flowers and eggs on them, with hardly a cross in sight.

  3. Hi Janice.
    Your traditional Easter celebrations sound comforting. I love the sound of tolling church bells; it goes deep. Those flowers are gorgeous. Our family didn’t celebrate Easter too religiously. However, mom would make a special dinner and my sisters and I would decorate eggs; that’s about it though. Good memories.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..In Appreciation of Good Health =-.

    • Hi, Davina.
      Hope you had a lovely birthday weekend and have a wonderful, creative, prosperous year to come!

      Like Lori, I didn’t really ‘get’ Easter till I was older. My earliest Easter memories are of eggs and chocolate, too. (My kids, despite my best efforts, still haven’t ‘got’ the significance of redemption, hope and salvation and a world teeming with life, love, creativity and pure potential. Maybe because they’re young and haven’t screwed up so they can’t appreciate the concept of continual rebirth. Chocolate bunnies are my son’s favourite part!)
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry… =-.

  4. I was headed to bed but saw you had a new post up and now I just have to comment! I knew this would be a typical Janice-post-of-beauty as soon as I saw those flowers. I can see why they are your replacement drug of choice–if they smell half as good as they look, I am quite sure you are drunk by now! 🙂

    I was just telling my class on Friday how much I miss being in Iowa on Good Friday because of the tolling church bells. It is a very sobering sound–something we hear very rarely in Utah.

    The candles sent by your children’s godmothers are spectacular. I am so glad that you included photos. They look like heirlooms. I think they make wonderful gifts and I think it sounds like a lovely tradition.

    The Easter eggs are so vivid! They are little works of art.

    I’m happy you shared these traditions with us. Happy Birthday to your family member, and I hope the music course went well.
    .-= Randi´s last blog ..Cheap Spices =-.

    • Thanks Randi! We’ll be one child short for the whole week, so I’m wondering what state I’ll be in by Saturday! I’ve been texting like a teenager.

      I must confess, the eggs look good, but I cheat. I do the red dye bit traditionally, but in the last few years, the dye packet comes with these little shrink wrap decorative sheaths you slip on the red eggs then you dip them in boiling water and they shrink to fit the egg!

      I love your description of the tolling bells; “sobering” is a wonderful word to describe one of the many feelings that mesh on that melancholy day every year. Your class is very lucky to have you; you cover such an array of life lessons and personal inspirations with them! Have a great holiday. Selfishly, I’d like you to to fill it with writing!
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry… =-.

  5. I can understand the longing you feel for Greek Easter because it is a longing I myself feel, and I’m right here! 🙂 The bells truly did toll mournfully all day Friday, but the firecrackers began in earnest Saturday evening, and all day yesterday (at least here in Crete) guns were fired off rapidly and often. We spent the day with friends, here at our home for lunch and then down by the sea … and then out on the veranda for drinks and eats … and then ended the evening with karaoke (at home, on the big screen TV). It was such a special day.

    Thank you for sharing the ee cummings poem. I had never read it before, and now I am wanting to swish it around again on my tongue. I love all of the quotes and poems I pick up from you on this site. Thank you for sharing these gems with us.

    Xronia Polla, Janice to all of you and yours. Christos Anesti!
    .-= Chania Girl´s last blog ..Happy Birthday =-.

    • Alithós anésti! I’m glad you and CB (Chania Boy 😉 ) had a lovely day with your friends. That’s what it’s all about, I reckon. Celebrating life and love.

      I’m glad you like the tidbits on the site, the poems and quotes and bits and pieces. I’ve always been fond of what I call my patchwork posts; they’re one of my favourite bits of blogging. It feels like gathering flowers in my apron and seashells in my pockets and bringing them home to share with you all.

      Happy 1st Birthday to your bloggling!
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry… =-.

  6. Hi Janice .. the flowers look so wonderfu – I bought some similar for Mum for Mother’s Day .. beautiful, and through the winter I’ve been buying Jonquils, Paper Whites, and in fact the natural daffodil smells wonderful .. they are beautiful – no wonder your heart melted.

    Greece sounds wonderful at this time of year – all the traditions. Years ago I went to a Russian Orthodox ceremony .. but I was too young to understand (early 20s) .. but no experience what to expect etc & no learning then! Would love to do it now .. parts of it I remember vividly .. the decorations and images were amazing, as was the feast ..

    For whom the bell tolls – yes .. last year my mother’s first husbands brother in law died aged 90 in the Basque country .. and the bell in the village tolled until he was buried – I wasn’t there but one of his children commented on the effect & sudden realisation that of course Hemingway was describing this way of life .. I duly took note …

    Have a fantastic weekend – and isn’t it wonderful how the kids can do so much .. they’ll be forever grateful for this time & their music, or being at home with Mum and Dad ..

    Enjoy the week – with love and hugs from down South – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Who would have thought Barbary Apes would be eating our greens? =-.

    • There’s a concert when all the massed orchestras and choirs get back from ‘camp’ so we’ll be able to see how much music actually got done!

      I thought of you when I first saw those bouquets in Tesco, remembering how your mum likes jonquils and paperwhites. When I lived in Greece, I used to buy small bunches of daffodil-like things, like white jonquils or miniature paperwhites; they have a heavenly scent that’s out of this world and come out in winter and last through to spring. They’re called dakrákia in Greek, which means tiny tears. Someone once told me that they represent Mary’s tears. I’ve only ever come across them for sale en masse in seaside towns over there.
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry… =-.

  7. Hi Janice,

    My mother was an Orthodox Armenian. The only Orthodox church in our area was a Greek church. So every Easter, my mother would take me with her to the Greek services. I loved it. The whole ceremony was just so beautiful. My mother knew some Greek so she would translate the services for me. The only phrase that has been glued into my memory was the Greek phrase for “Christ has risen”. (Cristos aresti…exuse the misspelling.)

    Reading your post, brought back those memories. So thank you for that! 🙂
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..Don’t Ever Apologize For Who You Are =-.

    • I’m glad they were good memories! You are so blessed to have had such a tapestry of spiritual influences as you were growing up. It must have helped you find the common love in all of the religions and cultures you experienced.

      There were a lot of Armenians in some of the areas I lived and worked in in Greece, especially the north east and Thessaly, maybe because of the Smyrna exchange as well as immigration. I remember a town called Armenio, and a lot of music mentioned the haunting sadness of homesick Armenians. I’d love to hear more of your mum’s story on your blog someday.
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry… =-.

    • Thanks, Kathy. It’s lovely to have you visit us over here. Long before I built my first blog, I had your blog in a Favourites file named (rather unimaginatively) beautiful inspiring sites , in a subfolder called sites with animation and colour co-ordinated blogs. Your artwork is gorgeous!

  8. Thank you for this aesthetic feast, Janice, the visuals and virtual olfactory. I shared the pleasure of those candle gifts, too.

    Here’s a tribute to you as a model of another ee cummings’ poem, from which this is an excerpt:

    “To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.”

    Connie

  9. Oh, Janice, your colorful springtime bouquet took my breath away! I can sense your joy when you realized you’d captured the essence of those flowers in that shot. I love the other shots too. You could probably sell all of them.

    I miss the days of coloring and hiding Easter eggs with my kids. Now I take joy from the many blooms in my yard this time of year. Pink azaleas, yellow irises, white bridal wreath, some reddish fringey things. I think tomorrow I will bring some inside. I love flowers, and I love this pretty post. This is a very special time of year.
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..The Easter Flower =-.

    • I’m glad my flower frenzy comes across in my writing; you should see me at the sniffing and photo shoot stages, too! I love your impressionist word-painting of your garden, but I must confess, my favourites were the “reddish fringey things”! We had ‘purple frilly things’ I never learned the names of. Thank you for making me feel like it’s not trivial to share the journey with “pretty posts” as well as written insights. I miss my small kids, too, but you, my dear have so much joy ahead with grandchildren!
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Some Insights on Editing… =-.

  10. Hi Janice,

    I’ve been waiting for a chance to catch up on your blog posts, and that time has finally arrived.

    The flowers in this post are absolutely gorgeous. I could stare at the photo for hours. I’m guessing they must smell luscious, too.

    Thank you also for sharing your Easter traditions. They sound so lovely and meaningful and by the sounds of it, are memory making days.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Save Your Best Posts For Later, Or Not? =-.

    • Hi, Barbara. The flowers really were luscious! (So were the sweets and goodies my Greek ‘koubara’ sent us. 😉 ) I’ve had a week away from blogging, too, as the kids are on holiday, and it’s been heartwarming catching up on comments. I’ll be having another break this week, so I’ll see you over at your blog when the kids are back at school.
      .-= janice´s last blog ..Some Insights on Editing… =-.

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