Friday, April 12, 2013

Blessed Pussy Wiillow

On Saturday night, 

eve of the feast day 

of the 'Entrance of the Lord 

into Jerusalem'

("Palm Sunday") 

Orthodox churches welcome

foliage in their services.

Worshippers bring

what flowers they may, 

and especially branches 

of pussy willow.

Like the people of Jerusalem

those centuries ago,

the Orthodox  

greet Christ 

with tree branches. 
(in Church Slavonic "s vaiyami")

Of course, 

Russia has no palm trees. 

The local trees they do enjoy,

do not leaf so early in the 

legendary climate. 

Only the pussy willow 

shares her tender catkins.

And so, the pussy willow 

is an especial emblem 

of Spring,

A featured solo 

in the season's theme 

of spiritual rebirth. 

Modest pussy willow

cheers the people,

hails a King,
but her tender leaves 

of green 

bloom only later. 

Royal velvet

soothes eye, 

and touch, 


after winter's


But pussy hides 

her mystical side. 

Green Leaves, 

and the tender business 

of keeping on,

are as yet 

but promised 


Like the very day's 


soon eclipsed 

in anguish

(killing frost)

and then 

Exceeding Joy.

Part of the evening's service,

is a ritual blessing

of the pussy willows. 

The Gospel is read,

and then,

in that rarified space,

the clergy who are present 

cense the pussy willows 

with blessed Orthodox incense,
read a specific prayer,

then bless the branches,

the catkins, 

with holy water. 

I cannot 

but think 

that these are 

happy words
to the faithful:

 "These pussy willows

 are being blessed,

through the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, 
by the sprinkling of this holy water, 
in the name of the Father and the Son 
and the Holy Spirit. Amen!"

Usually the blessing is repeated

on the next day 

of the feast itself. 

Then the blessed 

pussy willows 

are lovingly 

brought home,

and reverently 

as a sign of God's 

'Penetrating Grace

even until 

the following year 

when the old branches

are burned.

In some communities, 

they are used instead

as the stuffing 

of special pillows, 

upon which the heads 

of pious Orthodox Christians

rest in their coffins.  


How Good, and Right, 

and Joyful it is, 

to celebrate nature

as the pageant of wisdom

and sustenance that she is.

Celebrate Creation

Honor the Creator

too awestruck 

to argue

questions too big

for right now.

Thanks for spending time here with us!
                                  Your friend, cloudia