176. For the mind disturbed, the still beauty of dawn is nature’s finest balm. ~Edwin Way Teale

Slow buds the pink dawn like a rose
from out night’s gray and cloudy sheath;
softly and still it grows and grows,
petal by petal, leaf by leaf.
~Susan Coolidge

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Tired of tossing and turning, I got up out of bed and went in to rock in my favorite chair.  Not wanting to miss the “slow budding” of dawn’s light, however, I first raised the bamboo shade in front of the glass, patio-doors.  After a short wait a faint pinkish glow appeared low on the horizon in the eastward sky, and as the sun inched up and up and up, a ray of golden light poured through an opening centered in the heart of a tall tree framed against it just above a neighboring housetop.  The branches of the tree then took on a hallowed appearance so much so that a bird atop the roof and two squirrels sitting very still in nearby branches looked like parishioners in pews awaiting the high priest.  Later, as the sun climbed high enough for night’s curtain to be lifted completely off earth’s stage, it was apparent that all who’d seen this amazing “salutation of the dawn” were summoned to make ready for the new day.  The first to respond was a flock of birds darting willy nilly across the pastel blue sky in search of food, but beneath them as more and more drops of light appeared like jewels aloft in the bamboo I knew that despite a restless night the time for me to rise had come as well.

If I rise on the wings of 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 139:9-10  ✝

175. And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses – would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories? ~Ranier Maria Rilke

There’s a goblin at my window,
A monster by my door.
The pumpkin at my table
Keeps on smiling more and more.
There’s a ghost who haunts my bedroom,
A witch whose face is green.
They used to be my family,
Till they dressed for Halloween.
~Sandra Liatsos

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Bats and hats and spooky cats, oh no!  Ghosties, goblins, and long-leggedy beasties, oh no!  Jack o’ Lanterns, witches, and billowing brews, oh no!  What could it be?!  ‘Tis halloween!  When we were children, my sisters and I would think about how we wanted to dress up for Halloween weeks ahead of time.  As we came up with our ideas, mom would either make or help us put together the costumes we had envisioned.  Then on Halloween, readied and excited, we’d go out trick or treating all over our neighborhood before heading to the school carnival where we’d first get our fortunes told by a gypsy with a crystal ball.  Afterwards we’d bob for fresh apples and move from booth to booth while devouring caramel apples, popcorn balls, or handfuls of candy corn.  However before the “bewitching hour” when, as they say, all the truly scary things roamed, we’d scurry back home with our newly gained “bounty” in tow.  Once there we’d paw through all our “treats” until bedtime when a spooky tale might be told or retold.  Oh what fun it was back then for a child on the eventide of All Hallow’s Day!  And what a safer, simpler world it seemed to be!

To look backward for a while is
to refresh the eye,
to restore it,
and to render it the more fit
for its prime function of looking forward.
~Margaret Fairless Barber

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith (in the Lord) and love.  He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we long to see you.  ~1 Thessalonians 3:6  ✝

174. The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~Mahatma Ghandi

If all the beasts were gone,
men would die from a great loneliness of spirit,
for whatever happens to the beasts
also happens to the man.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of Earth.
~Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe

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The creatures of earth, sea and sky came forth “out of the waters of God’s life.”   And their arrival was yet another manifestation of the visible from the invisible–another disclosure of the mystery of God.  In addition, “with the birth of the creatures there is the emergence of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.  The light of the sun and the whiteness of the moon can now be seen.  The wind blowing through the leaves of trees and the crashing of ocean waves can be heard.  The early morning fragrance of the earth can be smelled.  Its fruit can be tasted, and its textures touched,” writes J. Philip Newell.  It has even been said that if one wants to know the Creator, one of the ways to gain insight is to know His creatures, and I think that’s especially true when it comes to examining the sensory aspect of their coming.  For does not the ability to see, that the creatures brought, teach mankind to see with the eyes of the heart?  In the silences of humanity’s reality does not the ability to hear teach men to listen for the “echo of the spheres” and the still, small voice of God?  Do not the abilities to smell, taste, and touch help mortals meet their Savior, Jesus, through the holy sacrament of the Eucharist (Communion)?

And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.”  And it was so.  ~Genesis 1:30

173. I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

Autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence
on the mind of taste and tenderness,
that season which has drawn from every poet,
worthy of being read,
some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.
~Jane Austen

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While the summer sun reigned high in the heavens, the trailing vines of Cucurbita inched along the ground.  Its flowers were pollinated, and then its fruits began to grow.  Tendrils on the vines helped anchor the rambler and protect them from the wind.  The leaves of the vines absorbed energy from the sun to spur the growth of the fruits, and the stems worked like umbilical cords to bring nutrients to the fruits while the thin and shiny outer layer of the fruits protected them from insects and disease.  As summer wound down, the ripening gourds began turning a spectacular color of orange, at least the traditional ones.  Then after the autumnal equinox, north winds venturing out of their haunts moved southward.  Along the way they gathered a fair measure of clouds; rain from the clouds greened the landscape; days became noticeably shorter; temperatures dropped below previous three digit highs; skies regained deeper hues; dawns became chillier; and the inimitable pumpkin, having been nipped off its vine, appeared on roadside stands and in grocery stores.  How I love Octobers and the whole autumn experience; hardly a day goes by that I don’t turn my eyes upward in praise, drop to my knees in thanksgiving, and wish I could throw my arms in adoration around  the Lord of all Creation!

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.  Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.  ~Psalm 67:5-6  ✝

172. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell–some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power. ~Northern Advocate

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune they jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
~William Blake, English poet

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*Photo courtesy Mike Bizeau

Lusty indeed is the dance of the year’s 4th child!  Escalating as she goes, she regales herself in glorious colors, and whilst strutting her hour upon earth’s stage, she reigns in majesty.  As she prepares the land for its Sabbath, her chariot enters the eastern sky at dawn with pink and purple banners flying high or she comes veiled in gray from a fog or torrents of rain.  Then after day is done she exits on the western horizon in mellow twilight, or in a blaze of red and gold, or swallowed up in the wetness of massive clouds.  When not thundering “mournful melodies” for all to hear, she’s belting out songs of joyfulness until she perishes in deep December softly playing “the harps of leafless trees.”

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture in the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man less, but Nature more,
~Lord Byron, English poet

It wasn’t until Mike Bizeau posted this photo of fall-colored succulents along a beach north of Mendocino, California, that I realized lusty autumn not only sings in forests and gardens but also in places on the “lonely shore.”  What a splendid artist is the holy Yahweh!

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell all of His wonderful acts.  ~1 Chronicles 16:9  ✝

171. Nature is to be found in her entirety nowhere more than in her smallest creatures. ~Pliny the Elder (Roman Scholar)

She sat down in a weed patch, her elbows on her knees ,
and kept her eyes on the small mysterious world of the ground.
In the shade and sun of grass blade forests,
small living things had their metropolis.
~Nancy Price, Website writer and poet

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This writer is describing a kingdom that exists in probably every square foot of ground in any garden, and it is not a singular kingdom.  In and around blossoming things there’s yet another mysterious metropolis.  In it airborne living things yearn to “possess the sweet of every flower that blooms,” and so in that above-ground realm there really is a very simple equation: if there are no flowers there are no pollinators; if there are no pollinators there are no flowers.  One simply doesn’t exist without the other, at least for very long.  The hum or buzz of the pollinating agent and the flower’s blooming go hand in hand.   Together they dance the dance of life and commit their acts of love.  And so it is that different life forms as well as scripture “remind us that there are other voices, other rhythms, other strivings, and other fulfillments…”  How I’d love to hover over the petals of a rose, peer deep into its center, and then dive in to taste its “sweets” like the wasp on this bi-colored Scentimental rose.

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.  ~Job 37:5   ✝

170. Ones sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. ~From THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Every man knows well enough
that he is a unique being, only once on this earth;
and by no extraordinary chance will such
a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity,
ever be put together again a second time.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

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Like the child in the photograph holds her ball, God holds us in the palm of His mighty hands.  And since His Word tells us we are made in His image, that speaks to me of the vast and diverse abilities of our Maker.  It tells me He is bigger and more powerful than I could ever imagine.  It tells me there is a distinct reason for the uniqueness of every created entity.  And because we are made in the image of a loving and good God, it tells me I am meant to be in relationships that deepen my reverence and affection for others and my Creator.  It tells me that what my eyes see should be filtered first through my heart of hearts and not through bias or preconceived notions.  It tells me that what I am matters only in the light of what I do for everyone and everything that crosses my path, be they flowers, or creatures, or people.  If not so, then why do things and people I cherish remain tied to my heart in some way even when they are not in sight, and why is it that what’s tied to my heart is far more than just the sight of them.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?  ~Psalm 8:3-4  ✝