A parishioner brought a bottle to church from his home icon corner to be refilled with water blessed at Theophany. He poured the remaining holy water from the previous year into an appropriate place — one of two vases containing fresh-cut flowers.
A week later, one bouquet had withered, while the flowers in the vase with holy water remained fresh. After another Sunday or two, people began taking pictures — noting how the “holy water flowers” stayed fresh. It took more than six weeks for the flowers to dry.
“No plant food or preservatives were added to the water of either vase,” noted the nationally known bioethics writer Wesley J. Smith, a member of the parish. “Neither, as far as I know, had either been touched since.”
After receiving a photo, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco noted: “It is wonderful when God breaks into our ordered world with its assumptions and categories and does something small that disturbs them. It is like a little nudge to say — ‘I am still here and still in charge no matter what you think.’ ” Smith included that statement in an online post that has circulated ever since.
“We didn’t sensationalize what happened,” said Karcher. “We didn’t make a big deal out of it. … But it’s a memory that has lingered for us.” This is, after all, a Theophany mystery worth pondering, he added.
It is always controversial when believers describe events of this kind, Orthodox writer Frederica Mathewes-Green once noted, in a “Tasteless Miracles” commentary for National Public Radio. It’s understandable when skeptics reject miracle claims.
Meanwhile, some openly mock possible miracles that are small and even somewhat strange — like sweet-smelling tears forming on icons of the Virgin Mary.
“There are others who do believe in God, but just can’t believe he’d do something like this,” she said. “It’s — to tell the truth, it’s kind of tacky. It’s showy, and sentimental. God, if he’s any kind of respectable deity at all, must be a paragon of exquisite taste.” Simple humility is the proper response, she added.
Karcher said he considers that mysterious vase of flowers a “little love note from God. … God sent us a bouquet to show us that he is with us.
“I’m not sure that I can explain little signs like this to nonbelievers. … But believers can ask: ‘If God can do something like this with flowers, what can he do with us?'”
FIRST IMAGE: Photo by Wesley J. Smith.
MAIN IMAGE: From this feature — “The Icon of the Theophany: An Explanation” at the Orthognosia weblog.
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