90. “Come with me into the field of sunflowers. Their burnished disks, their dry spines creak like ship masts. . .” ~Mary Oliver

At early dawn, like soldiers in their places stand

Those voiceless watchers at the morning’s gate.

And all day long that silent worship lasts,

And as their god moves grandly down the west,

And every stem a lengthening shadow casts

And watch till every lingering ray is gone,

Then slowly turn to greet another dawn.

~Edited poem by Albert Bigelow Paine


It would have taken no more than the first few words of Mary Oliver’s poem for me to want to join her in that field of sunflowers.  I would go anywhere sunflowers grow, for surely the flowery “soldiers” as Paine calls them, as well as the flocks of wandering “beasties” that visit them, have adventurous tales to tell those who thirst for nature’s narratives.  The voiceless worshippers waiting for weeks at dawn’s opening gate know well the demon and angel of drought and rain, the hungry adoration of visiting pollinators, the bearer of blessed light and sometimes searing heat, the sparkling orbs of cooling darkness.  Even in their day’s of perishing they die not in silence nor in sadness for the rows and rows of seeds they bear guarantee new tales of other admirers, other dawns, and other sunsets.  Dressed in simple garments of broad, green leaves and rising from coarse roots often sunk into poor soils, the sunflower, modest follower of the sun’s journey across the heavens, offers up a golden face covered in sticky, appetizing sugars.  During the course of the day the bold sun worshiper blooms out large and tall while looking directly into the blazing sun, and with a radiant face poised against heaven’s blue the beauteous flower spreads a fanciful feast for birds, butterflies, and bees.  Moreover, in that same sugary stickiness is a honeyed holiness, a potent, calming elixir for the human worshiper in the taxed, heat-beleaguered world beneath.

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.  ~John 1:16

89. In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty. ~Christopher Morley

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


Many literary researchers believe that Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, who wrote prolifically under the pen name “The Duchess,” was the first to assert that  “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Since then the truth in her assertion has been universally accepted because beauty is, and has always been, highly subjective.  Eye-appeal not only comes from a variety of sources, but it also means different things to each heir of its gift.  Regardless of what our perception of beauty is, however, I believe the profit gained by an individual’s spirit is the same as what his or her body gains from water, vitality and renewal.  Even the smallest measure of comeliness is one of the very best and most uplifting joys in life; it is like a blinking sign that says “look and listen–you are glimpsing the great goodness in the sacred heart of God.”  Its life-giving spark is a powerfully restorative tidbit in a random moment that blesses the beholder, a magical moment that creates a kind of vacuum, a space not unlike what is found in the eye of a storm where peace and rest reign.  And in beauty’s stilled-for-the-moment haven hunger in the gut is squelched and the soul is fed with holy benedictions.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.  ~Psalm 27:4

88. The magnetic pulls we create between others and ourselves make up the magic of every ordinary day; they are the white spaces in life in between the written lines, the cracks in which the sunlight filters into. ~Edited excerpt from C. JoyBell C.

A commonplace life, we say and we sigh;

But why should we sigh as we say?

The commonplace sun in the commonplace sky

Makes up the commonplace day.

The moon and the stars are commonplace things,

The flower that blooms and the bird that sings;

But sad were the world, and dark were our lot,

If flowers failed to bloom and the sun shone not.

-Sarah Chauncey Woolsey


Although ordinary and commonplace yellow and orange beauties in the garden often bring me to a halt in treks around the yard.  How could they not?  There’s golden glory to behold in a daffodil which trumpets the coming growing seasons followed by, among other things, the splendid native daylily which heralds summer as she “boldly struts her brief hour upon life’s stage.”  Pansies and daisies are also quite commonplace, and yet in their typicality there is enough of the spectacular to declare them a worthy representative of God’s majesty in bloom.  In addition to the orange and lemony flowers are butterflies like the Gulf Fritillary and the Monarch, stunning “beasties” whenever and wherever their remarkable orange wings flutter.

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place.  ~1 Chronicles 16:27

87. Silence-The flower offered of itself and eloquently spoke of God in languages of rainbows, perfumes, and secret silences. . . ~Edited excerpt by Phillip Pulfrey


God’s poet is silence! His song is unspoken,
And yet so profound, so loud, and so far,
It fills you, it thrills you with measures unbroken,
And as soft, and as fair, and as far as a star.
~Joaquin Miller

When a pandemic of blues and purples appear in the garden, the sound of their secret silence is almost deafening.  So sweet are their melodies that not only do they whisper “velvet seductions” to the bees, but they murmur too thunderous truths of holy words, holy hands, holy love, and holy intent to listening human ears.  How fortuitous then are the lilting, purple and blue incantations of earth’s beauty!

When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls

And the stars begin to twinkle in the sky–

In the mist of a memory you wander back to me

Breathing my name with a sigh. . .

~Excerpt from lyrics by Mitchell Parish

Creation is, as J. Philip Newell pens, “where the truth of God is hidden, like a treasure buried in a field,” and so for many purple is said to nurture the soul of the believer.  Over the centuries purple has also been a color used to depict nobility, passion, pain, creativity, magic, and mystery.  As amazing as it is, purple does not, however, surpass the color blue in beauty nor is it as much a constant in our lives.  Blue is always with us because it is the color of sea and sky.  Even the nighttime sky turns to indigo before it completely blackens.  For some, the deep blue of the night sky “symbolizes a mystical borderland of wisdom,” and indigo has a way of taking blue from the external world and pushing its influence inward where it increases depth of thought and brings profound insights.  In the garden some blues are soothing colors that invoke rest and are capable of causing the human body to produce chemicals which calm it.  On the other hand brilliant or electric blues are so dramatic and dynamic that they are often invigorating and exhilarating.  Regardless of what shade of blue blesses the eye, John Ruskin hit the nail on the head when he called blue the color “everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight.”

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  ~Psalm 139:7-10