Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mary's Raspberry Branch

SCROLL DOWN A LITTLE to see Sunday's post celebrating the icon of the Mother of God ~ Unfading Flower. We find Mary in a living orb of fruit and flowers and holding a raspberry-laden staff. Most of the wild woodland raspberries are gone now, the bears having fattened up on them before the winter. As with almost all flowers and fruits, raspberries have symbolic significance: religious, cultural, medicinal or folkloric. 

Raspberries are a symbol of kindness. When pressed, they ooze a blood-like juice. This raspberry blood moves through our hearts where Jesus says kindness and all good thoughts originate. 

Jesus replied, "Can't you see that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is discharged into the sewer? But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and it is this that makes someone unclean. For from the heart come evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander. These are the things that make a person unclean. But eating with unwashed hands does not make anyone unclean." (Matthew 15:17-20)

This is interesting in itself - the biblical view that thoughts originate in our hearts while our minds categorize and articulate the thoughts of the heart. The ancients were on to something.

Raspberries are fragile and bruise easily making their transportation delicate. Perhaps as the Mother of God holds them to herself and before her Son, she has us in mind, where we are damaged, pressed upon, wounded in our psyche-soul. 

Raspberries are perennials, which means they come back every year, but the stems are biennial, dying back every other year - the plant continually sending up new canes in the spring. But these reed stems grow and expand rapidly. I've had raspberry bushes here that looked quite dead, but come the spring they sent up new growth. In some cultures the reed stems are hollowed out and made into thin flutes. 

I like to think of the thoughts of Mary's heart and the words of her mouth as music to God's ears. Have we all read Mary's Song of Praise (her Magnificat)in Luke 1: 39-56? Don't miss it! Indeed, the words have often been put to great music.

Lastly, raspberry canes have a certain flexibility. Some Christians are very inflexible: impossibly unbending priests who have little pastoral sense of people in the struggle of their lives, parents who are overstrict with their children, people who get stuck in their political party's agenda, people whose rigidity is born of hatred, husbands and wives who are controlling of the other.

We might pause with the icon, asking heaven for the symbolic, spiritual-gifts the bush can bear abundantly.


  1. This post opens the heart for deeds of love and kindness to others today. Blessings to you today!

  2. What happens when your heart does not match your mind? What happens if you have entered into marriage and at some point you fall in love with someone else and you do commit adultery. A broken vow in the name of love. No one enters marriage thinking that they will be unfaithful, but we also cannot see into the future. It cannot be confessed if one doesn't view it as a sin. This is a confusing struggle and I am open to your viewpoints.

    1. We can't see into the future, yes. But that's what makes the marriage vows so profound. It's difficult to respond to this as I don't know all the details and this really wouldn't be the best forum to bring all of that out. I might ask for example, what's happened with the existing marriage? Is that marriage beyond repair? What does the spouse know?Sometimes before we can make difficult and life-changing decisions we have to live in an uncomfortable tension. Might I suggest finding a priest you know to be a good listener and who understands what it means to be human. In other words a priest who can do more than repeat to you what you already know. I'll keep the candle burning here through the night for your intention.

  3. The post contains such beautiful correlations. I love the symbolism that you point out between the raspberries and our life struggles. Fragile, bruised and pressed upon, yet able to grow and expand even when seemingly dead. This gives me much to think about and I appreciate spiritual gifts that come with these thoughts.

  4. All I have is hope in front of me. Thank you for providing the light to guide me.