The Radiant Transformation: Reflections from “An Ode of Vardavar”

Beloved in Christ,

On this Transfiguration Sunday, we celebrate a special moment when Jesus revealed His divine glory. We are invited to see His splendor and think about how His presence changes our lives. Let’s reflect on “An Ode of Vardavar” by St. Gregory of Narek, which beautifully illustrates themes of light, transformation, and divine glory.

The poem starts with the image of a jeweled rose bursting into flames from the sun’s beams. This reminds us of Jesus’ Transfiguration when His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light. Just as the rose reflects the sun’s brilliance, Jesus shows us the glory of God, transforming all creation.

Next, the poem describes a sea-flower stretching out, its colors foaming across the ocean. This represents the wide-reaching power of Christ’s transformation, which touches all humanity. The vibrant colors symbolize the endless grace and beauty from Jesus, affecting every part of our lives.

The blazing fruit from the flower’s branches, fed by lush leaves, reminds us of the life-giving transformation Jesus offers. Like the fruit nourished by the flower, we are nourished by Jesus’ divine life, helping us grow in faith, hope, and love, and bearing fruit that glorifies God.

The poem also depicts various trees—poplar, boxwood, cypress, and fir—unfurling their rose-tinctured boughs. This reflects the unity and diversity of the Church, united by Christ’s transforming power. Each tree, unique yet adorned with the rose’s beauty, symbolizes how we are united in Christ’s love and grace.

The lily in the valley, glistening toward the sun and revived by misty streams, represents the soul transformed by Christ. Like the lily, our lives shine with His presence, and our spirits are refreshed by His grace. The evening-drops and strings of pearls symbolize the blessings and mercies from God, renewing us daily.

Finally, the poem describes stars turning to face the moon, forming a host in a cruciform globe. This cosmic vision points to the harmony and order of God’s creation, centered in Christ. It calls us to look to the heavens, seek the divine light, and live in the hope of the eternal glory promised to us.

In closing, let us give glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May their light transform our darkness, their love renew our hearts, and their presence fill us with eternal hope. Like the flowers in St. Gregory’s ode, may we receive God’s grace and reflect the beauty of Christ’s Transfiguration in our lives, now and ever.

 

An Ode of Vardavar 

The jeweled rose did burst aflame
from the sun’s beams high above.
From high above the solar beams,
a sea-flower stretched out its reach.
Along the ocean’s far extent,
the flower’s bright colors foamed.
And from the flower’s dappled shades,
fruit from its broad branches blazed.
The ripened soft saffron fruit was
fed by the flower’s lush leaves.
The leaves of the harpist’s psalter of which blessed David sang.
From a wreath of varied roses, many-hued flowers bloomed.
These poplar and boxwood arbors unfurled their rose-tinctured boughs.
These cypress trees and budding firs took the rose to deck the lily.
The lily gleamed in the valley, glistening toward the sun.
As that wind blew from the north,
the jeweled lily gently swayed.
And from that mountain in the south,
misty streams revived the lily.
The lily was doused with dew,
evening-drops and strings of pearls.
All the flowers received the dew,
the dew from clouds, clouds from sun.
All the stars, an assembled host,
turned round about to face the moon,
A host in a cruciform globe,
a formation in the sphere.
Glory to the Father and the Son, always,
and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever.

St. Gregory of Narek (c. 945-1003)