116. Show to us the glory in the grey. ~From a prayer by George MacLeod, Scottish soldier and clergyman

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held.
~Natalie Grant, singer-songwriter

Image

Summer’s seemingly endless “fever heat” has had me caught up in a steamy mire of discontent, but “the glory in the grey” can’t be far away now that August has come to an end.  The intense heat and lack of rain will continue to exact suffering a while longer, but soon there will be healing for the land and its inhabitants.  Creation doesn’t exist “independently of God” because the Lord doesn’t just “periodically choose to express himself through it.”  All of Creation is an ongoing expression of the Almighty as well as a flow of His grace and light.  Even under duress, we have been and are still lovingly “held” at the turning of every corner.  Rain has been scarce across the entire state, but the thirst of tongues and gardens have been quenched by reservoirs of water.  The hum of the bee and the flight of the butterfly have been in short supply, but in food supplies and honey the passion and purpose of their lives can still be tasted.  The louder decibels of insect and birdsong have lowered, but ears can yet hear enough of them to warrant singing daily alleluias to the Lord.  The few roses that have bloomed soon fry on days too torrid for words, but not before their scents can be discerned, their beauty be admired, and their presence be praised.  None of the damage has irrevocably corrupted the divinely-inspired workings of Creation nor has it aborted the continuance of God’s promises.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.  ~Psalm 145:13  ✝

115. The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Image

Just breathe His Name.  Like the pressure of a child’s hand that calls forth an answering pressure, He will respond and you will feel His presence.  Then be silent, let all thoughts float away like clouds, and listen.  The word listen is in the word silent, and it is in both activities that we are able to hear His voice.

. . .that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life. . .   ~Deuteronomy 30:20

114. Feel the wild imprint of surprise. Free the joy inside the self. Awaken to the wonder of life. ~Edited excerpts by John O’Donohue

 Happy is he who still loves something
he loved in the nursery:
He has not been broken in two by time;
he is not two men, but one,
and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
~G. K. Chesterton

Image

When young children feel “the wild imprint of surprise,” they so easily let go the joy they feel, but by the time they reach adolescence they have usually become reticent to share their feelings and expressions of joyfulness for fear of ridicule by peers.  Then as they grow into adulthood, the playgrounds and backyards of their youth are left as far behind as their ability to experience wonder and awe and unbridled joy.

Off and on throughout my life I’d had glimpses of my childhood and the splendor of its days, but it was only after retirement that I realized “that like a forgotten fire, childhood can flare up again.” First I was elated that at last I owned my own time, had the time to belong to myself again, and was able to spend unlimited amounts of time in my little piece of Eden, taking photographs, and pursuing any other desires of my heart. But oh my, how also thrilling it was to find that my inner child was alive and well and that the middle years of my life in which I traversed valleys of brokenness and spiritual darkness had not robbed me of a joyful and thankful heart nor irrevocably “broken me in two!” God is so very good!

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  ~Isaiah 55:12   ✝

113. God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.  ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Image

Surely a man needs a closed place wherein he may strike root and, like the seed, become.  But also he needs the great Milky Way above him and the vast sea spaces, though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. . .  ~Romans 1:20

112. The Amen! of Nature is always a flower. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Flowers ae beautiful hieroglyphics of nature,
with which she indicates how much she love us.
~Wolfgang von Goethe

Image

Christianity sees plants and flowers as created by God to show forth and share with humans the divine goodness, beauty, and truth – the purpose of all Creation.  In this flowers may be enjoyed simply and directly in themselves as showing forth God’s goodness and beauty, or, more fully, as archetypes, signatues, symbols, and bearers of legends, mirroring the revealed articles of Christian faith – thereby serving as means for their teaching, recollection, contemplation, and celebration.  ~John S. Stokes

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things, let this be known to all the world.  ~Isaiah 12:5  ✝

 

111. For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life. ~William Blake

Life consists of wildness.  The most alive is the wildest.
Not yet subdued by man, its presence refreshes him. . .
When I would re-create myself, I enter the darkest wood,
the thickest and most interminable. . .
I enter a sacred place, a Sanctum sanctorum.
There is the strength, the marrow, of Nature.
~Henry D. Thoreau

Image

In his work, THE BOOK OF CREATION, J. Philip Newell reminds his readers that “the Book of Genesis portrays all things as being born out of the wild wind that swept over the face of the waters.”  Perhaps that’s why since ancient times there have been woods and rivers, seas and such, that have been considered sacred by holy men.  Primordial wilderness places were not only revered but also sought out by these holy men for the purpose of meditation and worship.  Thankfully earth is still filled with wild places “not yet subdued by man,” where anyone can see, running free, the divine’s creative forces, forces that refresh the spirit and touch the “marrow” of life.  In Thoreau’s “Sanctum sanctorum” the creating voice of God yet reverberates, and an impetus that prevents stagnancy and lack of purpose exists for all in it.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  ~Isaiah 35:1-2    ✝

110. Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The zinnias of summer stole the odd moments in the still air,
and I spent the warm mornings in admiration
of their pensive performance.
Dozens of their concentric perfect petals
in profound parades of intense hues
mocked the drab house and the miniature garden
with the winsome white picket.
They were sovereignty spoken in unspeakable order at the foot of a Throne.
~Edited excerpt from a poem by Elizabeth Kirkley Best

Image

Like this poet, I have always thought of picket fences as winsome, and this one with the colorful splashes of zinnias spread out around it is especially charming.  As I stood taking these photographs, the bright and perky zinnias actually seemed to cool down the torrid heat around me.  And in their colorful, unsophisticated simplicity they “stole” a welcome measure of pleasurable “odd moments” from the weighty air of August’s stifling heat.

“They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.  They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.  He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. . .”  Isaiah 49:9b-10   ✝