78. “. . . see without looking. . . . hear without listening. . . . breathe without asking.” ~W. H. Auden

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal
and give strength to body and soul.
~John Muir

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Throughout the garden flow waters that teem with and nurture life, and above it, orbs golden and white speak of holy corridors in heavenly palaces.  The breath which moves within the listening, watching mortal here below speaks of holy beginnings.  In the quiet of her beating human heart she hears tales of holy presence and purpose.  Her soul, hungry for God-Ruach Elohim, turns to the similitude of her garden to Eden’s glory.  (Ruach is an ancient Hebrew word for God which literally means “wind.”  As such it was not observed as a being but rather as a “vitalizing force.”  Bishop J. S. Spong explains that “among the Hebrews the ruach or wind of God was said to bring forth life.  It emerged in the very mysterious wind, which the Jews felt on their faces.”)   So it is that here and now, day by day, hour after hour as spring winds blow through her garden, she longs to be touched by the mystery of the life-giving ruach on her face as zephyrs ruffle again and again through branch and leaf, touching thorn and flower, and creatures great and small.

“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)

77. What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. . . ~William Shakespeare

When at last I took the time to look into the heart of a flower,
it opened up a whole new world–
a world where every country walk would be an adventure,
where every garden would be an enchanted one.
~Princess Grace of Monaco

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In a garden full of roses it seems only fitting to have what might be considered the “mother” of all modern roses.  This pink beauty is Rosa gallica officinalis (the “officinalis” denotes that the plant is used as an herbal remedy), and it has a very rich history of purpose and beauty.  In ROMEO AND JULIET, where I first learned about it, Shakespeare referred to it as the Apothecary Rose, a name which can be traced back to Medieval and Victorian times when those who prepared medicines from herbs planted it outside their doorways because of its powerful therapeutic properties.  The Apothecary Rose is the first and most famous of all gallica roses which is a family of roses thought to be the first developed by breeders in the early 1800’s.  But there is evidence that this rose dates back much further than that.  As a species rose it grew wild in central Asia where it was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and Persians.  Then later it was adopted by the Romans and Greeks.  The Romans introduced it into Gaul, and that’s where it was given the name Rosa gallica. As such it was used in the 9th century A.D. in Charlemagne’s court as a medicine and perfume because its petals were noted for retaining their fragrance even when dried and powdered.  Later it came to be intertwined with the House of Lancaster in the War of the Roses.  Edmund, the First Earl of Lancashire adopted it as a heraldic device, and subsequently it became the emblem of Lancashire and of England itself after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1845.  The popularity of the Apothecary Rose, along with the other once blooming roses, diminished tremendously, however, after the China roses were introduced and people sought only the repeat-flowering roses.  As a result the majority of the old, once blooming varieties slipped into oblivion, never to be found or grown again, but for whatever reason Rosa gallica officinalis somehow held its ground.  It took me many years to find this rose for my garden, but it was worth the wait because every spring when it blooms I feel like I’m looking at something so sacred that might have bloomed in Eden itself.  My garden, like all gardens, is a holy place, and what entices me as much as the flowers is the perceptible “scent” of the Ancient of Days.  Who knows?  Perhaps the fragrance of the Apothecary Rose was the very first aroma to delight the Lord.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . .  ~Genesis 3:8   ✝

76. Through the dancing poppies stole a breeze most softly lulling to my soul. ~John Keats

Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God,
nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed
in the blank earth and the result thereof.
Take the Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm,
the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin’s point in bulk,
but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable,
which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground
and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description.
~Celia Thaxter

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I love poppies, not just the flowers but also the lovely, fat pods that contain the future of the species.  The plants that put on silky, paper-thin blossoms can grow to be 3 or 4 feet tall here if the “hardly visible” seeds are sown in the fall.  So it is that in late October I toss out seeds from the ones I harvested from last’s years pods, and then all winter long I wait for the beauties which “baffle description” to make their appearance in my garden.  As winter moves along, I keep myself reassured by going out to check on them after especially frigid days or after occasional snowfalls to make sure the burgeoning “babies” have not succumbed to the elements.  And each time I go out, I almost squeal with delight when I discover that most of them, if not all, are still slowly but surely growing bigger and stronger.  Then sometime in the early spring the day comes when the waiting is over and standing before me are the first fruits of my labors and watchfulness.  Like dainty chalices, the cup-like flowers open up and drink in the day’s light while penning God’s autograph on the “scenes” of yet another springtime.  Day by day after each individual flower’s petals fall to the ground, the intriguing seed pods take their place, and as temperatures climb, they begin to ripen.  Some of these I eventually let fall to the ground to self sow; the remainder I gather and keep safe and dry until autumn comes and it is again time for me to partner with Creation and scatter abroad the “merest atoms” of such beautiful matter.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.  ~Isaiah 61:11

75. I must have flowers always, and always. ~Claude Monet

Miss Peony donned

petticoats the color of

ivory moonbeams.

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While the Lady Pink

Azalea stippled her frills

with touches of red.

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Sky blue clematis

opened up with touches of

luscious purpleness.

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Alas Lady Rose

was not to be out shined by

none so fair as she.

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Yet nothing is more

lovely than a small blossomed

cluster of sunshine.

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“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . .Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”  ~Matthew 6:28-32

74. I believe in pink. . . I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. . . I believe in miracles. ~Audrey Hepburn

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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What a fine spring indeed has risen on “the garden fair!”  Trees and shrubs that delighted us early on with their lovely flowering are now leafing out, more and more roses splits their buds each day, and a particularly perky, pink snapdragon standing tall looks like the scepter of an invisible sovereign reigning over all the other glorious pinkness.  One such pretty is a “surprise” pink poppy that appeared near one of the climbing pink roses.  From whence or where this poppy came, I know not, but a welcome guest it is all the same.  Pink Gerbera daisies are still going strong, and the leafing cherry tree continues to don its delicate pink blossoms.

[Beloved] My lover has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies.  ~Song of Solomon 6:2   ✝

73. Word of God speak, pour down like rain, and let me stay and rest in Your holiness. ~Edited excerpt from “Word of God Speak” by Bart Millard and Pete Kipley of the Christian band MERCY ME.

With blossom purple and imperious

she beckons me, mauve, mysterious,

and draws me to her, mute and serious,

and wonderful and wild, wisterious.

~Gershon Hepner

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Every spring I look forward to the pendulous racemes of purple deliciousness which fall from wisteria vines.   Their loveliness delights not only my eyes and nose with lavish pleasure but also my soul.  However, only the visual glory of wisteria can be imprisoned with my camera lens.  Sadly, to date I’ve not found a way to capture the sweet aroma that permeates the space all around the vines.  As it wafts outward on any available puff of air, the wondrously luscious fragrance intoxicates me and invites the constant hum of hungry bees.  If the nectar in them tastes as good as its flowers smell, what a delectable feast it must be for adoring insect paramours!  Besides their exquisite form and awesome aroma, wisteria blossoms are a mixture of rich deep purple and delicate light purple, an intriguing combination of red and blue that speaks of romance and passion.  Purple, long associated with nobility and spirituality, is said to have a “special, almost sacred place in nature,” and so it does in my garden or wherever I find it.  One author has even declared that “the spiritual and mystical qualities of purple satisfy the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.”

May your inner eye see through the surfaces

And glean the real presence of everything that meets you.

May your soul beautify the desire of your eyes

That you might glimpse the infinity that hides

In the simple sights that seem worn to your usual eyes.

~John O’Donohue

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!  Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.  Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. ~Song of Solomon 4:16

72. Come, fill the Cup, . . . the Bird of time has but a little way to fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the wing. ~Omar Khayyám

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
~Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyám, 11th century Persian poet

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In my twenties, I came face to face with the reality of what this Persian poet articulated in the Rubaiyat, but thankfully in my thirties I also realized that every spring all that God created begins again.  So even though I have no a chance to do anything about the past, in the season of restoration and rebirth God built into the fabric of Creation, I can forge on with writing new stories and/or penning different endings to ones not yet finished.  However, lest I get too comfortable in dalliances a long the way and to show how quickly what the poem’s author revealed can come about, I must remember that a new year’s garden progeny and its days come and go quickly, and when done they are never, as Khayyám said, to be lured back nor washed away by tears.  So with every spending of my time coins, I must seize opportunities opening to blushes of newness.  Scripture may tell the world that the “birthing and restoring” of new years will go on “as long as earth endures,” but last November’s brush with death taught me to make the most of each day and not rely on what I, myself, may not be given.

The best things in life are nearest:
Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet,
duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.
Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes,
certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish poet

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  ~Genesis 8:22   ✝