98. July brings harsh drought…heat as thick as tomato skins. ~Kite

Summer is the time one sheds

one’s tensions with one’s clothes,

and the right kind of day is

a jeweled balm for the battered spirit.

~Mario Batali

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I’ve come to love much of the unique Texas experience, but the intense heat of its summers has always been difficult for me to withstand.  So I have to stay inside air-conditioned quarters much more than I like, and being separated from my garden and God’s voice therein deprives my spirit of its much needed holy food.  The Lord in His goodness, however, always answers our calls of distress and finds ways to provide that which we need in some way.  So it is when an occasional cool down occurs in the midst of July’s misery, or when a good amount of unexpected rain falls to water cracked soil, or when the air-conditioning in our homes and cars doesn’t shut down, or when a home has lots of windows so one can at least see the garden, or when a digital camera allows one to store reminders of Creation’s unparched glory on a computer, or when wild, purple eryngium begins to bloom in spite of the torrid heat.  How blessed are we that the work of His hands is as apparent as ever in His world!

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your praise offerings.  May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. . .May the Lord grant all your requests.  -Psalm 20:1-4, 5b

97. When I’m feeling gloomy, I just start digging! Then all is right with earth, mankind, and God again! ~Christina Stephens

Ever felt an angel’s breath in the gentle breeze?
A teardrop in the falling rain?
Hear a whisper amongst the rustle of leaves?
Or been kissed by lone snowflake?
Nature is an angel’s favorite hiding place.
~Carrie Latet, poet

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And hiding this morning, as in Latet’s lines, were the three in this photo.  Though not totally obscured from view they were definitely tucked away deep within their foliage.  It was as if they were trying to determine whose feet trod near before sharing their comeliness.  Determined to capture the moment, I went in search of ways to get in close enough for photographs.  After I found them and took some shots, I moved on in search of what else the day might be proffering.  As I did, the day’s feel reminded me more and more of Latet’s lines as well as one written by American poet, Richard Purdy Wilbur.  At some point in his life he had felt that “outside the open window the morning air was all awash with angels,” and that was exactly what I was discovering in my garden that morning.  The sweltering heat had kept me inside for weeks, and I needed so to get out to dig in the soil and putter in my garden.  So I’d gone out very early in the morning to do so before it got too terribly hot.  Once outside I became aware almost immediately of sacred presences in my yard.  Actually the Angel’s Trumpet, the morning glories, and I seemed to be there merely as witnesseses meant to lift up hymns of praise in their honor, and oh so willing was I to do that.  In a world where discomfort, ugliness, and strife run rampant, one must celebrate the divinely-inspired moments designed to transcend the nastiness and bring back into view God’s throne of goodness and grace.  Oh gentle breath of heaven, thank You, for filling my heart today.

When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  ~Acts 11:23

96. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning. ~Ancient rhyme, with Biblical origin, repeated by mariners in past centuries

According to “The Language of Stained Glass”

at Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University:

When Dante spoke of the Seraphim — the first of the nine choirs of Angels —

the color that “glows” was the pure orange vermilion

which his fellow citizens and brothers-in-spirit

(the painters, illuminators, and glassmen) knew as red.

So, it may be said that pure red is the color of divine love,

the Holy Spirit, courage, self-sacrifice, martyrdom,

and all the warm impulses that belong to the great-hearted everywhere.

-Author unknown

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Our world is painted with enormous beauty by the 7 colors of the rainbow, and those seven basic hues yield thousands of other shades that also characterize the world in which we live.  Not surprising because color figures into the 7 days of Creation’s origins.  For example, on day 1 light was created and the color white symbolizes God and His love.  On day 2 God created expanses to separate water from water.  Both the heavens and water are blue.  On day 3 green plants were created.  On day 4 lights were placed in the heavens, and the greater light that governs the day is yellow.  On day 5 fish and birds and great sea monsters were created, and it has been said that the “sea monsters, such as whales and sharks, symbolize a giant, such as Baal(one of the seven princes of hell and a pagan idol mentioned widely in the Old Testament), who is evil” and symbolized by the color orange.  On day 6 man and animals were created. The blood that courses through their veins is red, the name Adam means red, and the first color used by man as seen in cave drawings is red.  The 7th day was sanctified by God who is symbolized by the color white, and purple was the color of the robe placed on Jesus before His crucifixion.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  -Genesis 9:12-13

95. How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconveivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew! ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the house of words was a table of colors.
They offered themselves in great fountains,
and each poet took the color he needed:
lemon yellow or sun yellow,
ocean blue or smoke blue,
crimson red, blood red, wine red.
Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan writer

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We see in Scripture that red is a color valued by the Lord for it played a prominent role in the building of the wilderness tabernacle in the Old Testament, and it is the color of life-giving blood, both ours and Christ’s.  And Galeano’s “poet” writes such striking rhymes and stanzas with it that one might believe he and the Lord love red the best.  In fact so lyrical is the poetry of red in a garden that my wanderings come to a halt, at least for a moment, when I come upon red blossoming beauties.  It was American fashion designer, Bill Blass, who said “red is the ultimate cure for sadness,” and I would have to agree.  Bright reds in a garden evoke an energizing kind of joy, and the deep reds add to that an air of a smiling, sultry mystery.  So I’m not at all surprised that “a red letter day” came into being to indicate one that is joyful and memorable.  I am surprised, however, that bees cannot see the color red and so don’t pollinate red flowers. When it comes to red blossoms pollination has to be done by birds, butterflies, bats, or the wind. I also find it odd that red is the topmost color of the rainbow, but it is the first color one loses sight of at twilight. No matter what the color red is or is not, does or does not do, I always think of it as a zesty spice in the garden, titillating to the senses and the eyes.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.  ~Ecclesiastes 8:15 ✝

94. The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. ~Dalai Lama

Every day that we wake up

is a good day.

Every breath that we take

is filled with hope for a better day.

Every word that we speak

is a chance to change what is bad into something good.

~Walter Mosley

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Scripture says that at the end of each day of Creation’s beginnings, God looked at what He made and saw that it was good.  Mankind, then, draws every breath amidst goodness.  Yes, there are days fraught with trials and grief, but they alter not the fabric in which all life was woven.  Goodness and the miraculous are as constant as the sun, moon, and stars, and man has a chance of finding and being be blessed by their graciousness when he lets go of his yesterdays and looks only to the day at hand.  If his cup is to be filled with promised goodness and mercy, he must empty the chalice of his being on a daily basis and respond to the “tugs of divinty” inside himself.  Otherwise the bitter stings of the past will poison the mix and rob him of what is to be.  Man’s days have a planned shape in the soil of goodness, and good’s bounty perpetually rises to the surface, not because of what man is or what man does, but because of who God is and what He has already done.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. . .Thus the heavens and earth were completed in their vast array.  ~Genesis 1:31a, Genesis 2:1

93. If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water. ~Loren Eisley

Let us bless the grace of water:

Flowing crystal clear and free through delighted emptiness…

A ceaseless traverse of presence…

Sounding out its journey, raising up buried music

Where the silence of time becomes almost audible…

Let us bless the humility of water, always willing to take the shape

Of whatever otherness holds it…

~Edited and adapted excerpts from IN PRAISE OF WATER

by John O’Donohue-Irish poet, philosopher, and scholar

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The Celts reverenced God in all that had life and in what He gave mankind to sustain life.  They understood that God speaks to man not only through the Bible but also through Creation.  One comes into awareness of such when in Genesis he/she finds that Creation is rooted in “the waters of God’s” very being for when the Ancient of Days separated the waters, it gave mankind the soil of the ground in which to grow and nourish vegetation needed for survival and continuance. When I read those opening pages of the Bible’s first book, I often imagine the four elements–earth, wind, fire, and water swirling about in a great maelstrom, and out of that chaotic wildness Yahweh’s mighty hands plucking and putting in place everything needed to birth Creation.

J. Philip Newell tells us one of his books that “the early Celtic church was characterized by patterns of worship under the open skies.”  Evidence of this, he says, can be seen in the “Celtic monastic communities” that “dotted the coastlines of Ireland and Britain” where “earth, sea, and sky, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, were the temple of God.”  For the same reason I’m always eager to get back out into my garden.  In my small piece of Eden I feel very close to God.  Therein I find such comfort and peace as I cherish the beauty, reverence His presence, and try to grasp His mystery.  Whenever and wherever rain falls may the power and presence of God be evident in the “grace of water.”

I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit.  ~Leviticus 26:4  (NIV)   ✝

92. All deep things are song.  It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls! ~Thomas Carlyle

Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.
They are the hieroglyphics of angels,
loved by all men for the beauty of their character,
though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.
~Lydia M. Child

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Not only is this large white flower an angelic hieroglyph, it’s common name is Angel’s Trumpet, and from start to finish the cherubic things hold me captive in “the beauty of their character.”  Though the flower itself is not new to me, until recently I hadn’t had one growing in my yard so that I could observe its habits from beginning to end.  Now that I’ve planted one, I’m continually fascinated that the flower begins life in what looks like an unassuming okra-like pod and ends its cycle in a curious spiny capsule.  When the plant emerges in the spring, it leafs out some before the okra-like-pods begin to appear.  Then the tiny buds grow longer and longer until they reach about 4 inches in length.  At that point the tip end splits open to reveal about an inch of a tightly wrapped, almost beige bud. Then the next morning the still tightly wrapped flower fully emerges from the pod and turns white.  Later in the day when it’s almost dark, the exquisite blossom finally unwinds and opens into the whiter-than-white glorious “trumpet” you see in my photograph.  Sadly its completed ascent into glory lasts for only a wee while because when the first rays of light hit it the next morning, it withers and dies.  After the withered “trumpet” falls away, the flower’s calyx is replaced by a large and very interesting prickly pod.  If left to dry and split, the spiny capsule spills seeds which fall to the ground guaranteeing that next year more “angels” will have trumpets to play.

Also at your times of rejoicing–your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts–you are to sound the trumpets…  ~Numbers 10:10