Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First we must cultivate our garden...

Last Sunday was Pentecost- a great feast of the Church commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the apostles. The old wounds forged at the tower of babel are corrected by this act; through the power of God the Holy Spirit, the people can understand each other's languages. 

If you had happened to be at a Byzantine Catholic parish last Sunday, you would have seen all the vestments and altar cloths in green, not the red that is used in Western churches. For me, this choice of using a color on the opposite side of the color wheel (red and green are 'complementary' colors) symbolizes the different ways East and West look at the same truth. Red is used in the West to symbolize the tongues of fire at Pentecost. Green is used by the East to symbolize the new life at Pentecost and also to connect to ancient Jewish harvest festivals (feast of booths/sukkot). Both colors and ways of seeing the truth of Pentecost are correct- but it might have been surprising to see green this past Sunday for a Western-rite Catholic! This was an adjustment for me as well because my family always dressed in red for Pentecost; my confirmation dress was red and white. 

And why the semi-pretentious Voltaire quote used for my post title? Well---I love Candide and the final line was perfection. But I also was thinking of garden cultivation as a symbol for so much. Yesterday, I planted heliotrope, jasmine, tomatoes, herbs, creeping thyme and more in our tiny 12 by 24 townhouse backyard. While I was planting, it didn't matter that the yippy dogs on the other side of the fence were threatening me with growls and whines. It didn't matter that my back was hurting. It didn't matter that the baby was flirting with rolling in the dirt. I was cultivating my garden. So this summer, I want to be (shall I say the word?) INTENTIONAL with my work- do things on purpose. Cultivate my garden- whether it actually be sewing or doing dishes or reading to the kids or praying--- Cultivate my garden with the help of the new life in the Holy Spirit that we find at Pentecost.


  1. Thanks for the beautiful reflection.

    Just thought I'd also bring out the apostolic dimension that exists in this feast, in the troparion of Pentecost, from the Byzantine Liturgy:

    "Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit - through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee! "

    The Holy Spirit comes and unites the Church and gives her the ability to go out and "draw the world into thy net."

    Also note the phrase "Lover of Man". This a title of Christ that appears many times the Byzantine liturgy, one that has always touched me deeply, given how it reveals his deep personal love for us.

    (for those interested, some excerpts from Pentecost Liturgies at one Byzantine Catholic Church:

  2. Inspired post from God. Thank you.


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