203. Surely a man needs a closed place where in he may strike root and, like the seed become. ~Antoine de St. Exupéry

But he also needs the Great Milky Way
above him and the vast sea spaces,
though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.
~Antoine de St. Exupéry

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For me, autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for reflection, contemplation, and soul searching–a time for ruminating on the things that move me and make me who and what I am.  And so as I worked out in the yard on this sunny last day of November, the windmills in my mind started churning up memories of the events that led to its door.  Rather than covering every step of the journey, I decided to start when I found my “closed place” in this house with its spacious yards where I began to “strike roots.”  In the beginning, though the home and its conveniences served my physical needs and provided me with creature comforts, relief from old emotional wounds and peaceful contentment remained elusive long afterwards.  Years passed with little change in the status quo until one summer while recalling the beautiful flowers surrounding my childhood home (above) in California, I decided it was time to try growing my own flowers right here in hot old Texas.  Since I wasn’t sure I’d inherited the proverbial “green thumb” of my ancestors, I resolved to begin on a small scale.  So I cleaned off a corner of the patio, bought some bags of potting soil and an assortment of pots and seeds, and thus commenced what I know now to have been a pivotal moment in my life.  From the minute the first seeds germinated, a soul-saving passion for gardening was being birthed in me.  Despite the summer’s miserable heat, I faithfully watered and fussed over my thriving “little flock,” and it was those familiar flowery scents that were the catalysts which sparked my spiritual reawakening.  The next summer with the success of the previous year under my belt and a renewed recognition of Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God), I decided to branch out and actually sow  seeds in the ground and dig a few holes for bedding plants.  Success came again and with it the quickening in my spirit intensified so much so that I decided to take my recently commissioned mentor’s advice to attend church once more.  This was the first step in righting the derailment of my faith journey that had begun after the early death of my father.

Scripture tells us that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches.  Until those first two growing summers the branch that was Natalie had been withering, not because the Lord had been doing less but because I had been turning a deaf ear and  blaming Him for the loss of my father as well as for painful, emotional wounds and the awful, unrelenting migraines that had started in my mid-twenties.  Since then I have spent season after glorious season planting, replanting, listening, seeking His presence, and marveling at the wonders of heaven and earth.  This pilgrimage that was involved in becoming the Natalie I am today has taught me that He, His Church, and His Creation, which includes the Great Milky Way, the vast sea spaces, and a garden, are the “holy foods” I must have to survive and live in peace and harmony.  Now minute by minute in this place where I have deeply “rooted” myself, the hungering need for “more” has been forever silenced by miracles great and small, blessing upon blessing, and the amazing grace He continues to bestow upon me.

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine;  you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:1 and 4-5

202. There is a communion with God, and there is a communion with earth, and there is a communion with God through the earth. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and Jesuit priest

Grass is the forgiveness of nature-
her constant benediction.
Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish,
but grass is immortal.
~Brian Ingalls

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Maiden grass, purple fountain grass, blood grass, little bluestem, pink muhly–what’s not to love about such names.  Not only are they alluring monikers for gardeners, but their visual charms provide great cover for  wildlife and their seeds are good food sources for birds.  Few pests bother them, and given a bit of wind their airy, flower panicles, feathery plumes, or striking seed heads resemble fairy wands as they capture and play with available light.  What I like best about them is that in their swishing and swaying the echoes of the eternal and murmurs of sacred benedictions can be heard.  A garden and all its plantings, be they grasses or trees or shrubs or ferns or herbs or mosses, always speak of earth’s primeval and venerable origins as well as man’s connection to the Holy Voice that spoke everything into being.  But it is in the movement of the grasses that I most feel the in and out movement of God’s ruach, His life-giving breath.  Chardin whom I quoted above contended that the more he devoted himself in some way to the interests of the earth the more he belonged to God.  It is the same for me because being close to and working the earth is like being attached to an umbilical cord that keeps me forever connected to and sustained by Him, the loving Source of all life.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.  He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.  ~Psalm 147:7-8  ✝

Progress

scottishmomus

Progress moves forward, time cannot pause,

Past is unchanging, we know this because

Nothing, here present, allows us to alter

Yesterday’s stories, yet we stutter and falter,

 

To grasp our todays and heal where we may

Holding to history, as if we could say,

‘That never happened. That book is a lie.’

If we live in the past, we suffer and die

 

To future’s new chances, a life with less pain,

But still we persist in living again

In past recollections where sorrow is spent,

Move on with new hope, life is but lent

 

For such a short while, each day just a gift,

In peril we waste them, let soul and heart lift.

A new understanding, resume with your living

Reconciling with self, be much more forgiving.

 

As, many the times, we look and we see,

The burden of guilt is on you and on…

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200. For flowers that bloom about our feet; for tender grass, so fresh, so sweet; for song of bird, and hum of bee; for all things fair we hear or see, Father in heaven, we thank Thee! ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace,
the celebration of work and the simple life. . .
a true folk-festival that speaks
the poetry of the turn of the seasons,
the beauty of seedtime and harvest,
the ripe product of the year –
and the deep, deep connection
of all these things to God.
~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)

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At the beginning of time the Lord set the wheels in motion for the making of continual banquets for man and creature alike.  And so in light of His abundant provisions and as the Canticle of Creation plays on, it is time to pause and give thanks to our gracious Benefactor.  The year is drawing to its appointed end and before it sinks into winter, the Sabbath of the year, we must look around and take stock of the Lord’s never-ending activity in Creation and be thankful for the constancy of His love and beneficent involvement in each of our lives.  W. J. Cameron said, “. . .a thankful heart hath a continual feast,” and so with beholden hearts, let us give praise and thanks for our Heavenly Father, His Grace, and His goodness.  I pray that this be a blessed time of thanksgiving for all of you and those you love; may all the roads you travel be, now and forever, filled with grace and peace and love.

If I have enjoyed
the hospitality of the Host of the universe,
Who daily spreads a table in my sight,
surely I cannot do less
than acknowledge my dependence.
~G. A. Johnston Ross

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  ~Psalm 100:4  ✝

199. Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering down from the autumn tree… ~Emily Brontë

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
~Elsie N. Brady

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Pat.  Pat, pat.  Pat, pat, pat.  Pat.  Pat, pat.  Pat.  Pat, pat, pat.  “Listen to the falling rain; listen to it fall.”  A remembered lyric from an old José Feliciano song ran through my mind.  But wait, I didn’t feel anything wet and the afternoon sun was shining in a cloudless sky.  So if it wasn’t rain, what on earth had I heard behind me.  As I turned to investigate, I saw that it was indeed raining, but not in the way I expected.  November’s gusting winds were letting loose hundreds of colored leaves from their woody perches.  The ones not already brought down by the rains of recent days were not tumbling down silently as Brady suggests; they were pelting the shed, the greenhouse, the birdbaths, and the ground so forcefully that they sounded like huge raindrops.  So it was pouring all right; it was raining leaf after leaf after leaf, pretty autumn tinted leaves, and the air in which they were dancing was made gold and red and ripe.

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done.  ~Psalm 92:4  ✝

 

198. Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet precious things that God created in the realm of nature. ~Northern Advocate

That soft autumnal time…
The year’s last, loveliest smile,
Thou comest to fill with hope the human heart,
And strengthen it to bear the storms a while,
Till winter days depart…

Far in a shelter’d nook
I’ve met, in these calm days, a smiling flower,
A lonely aster, trembling by a brook…
~John Howard Bryant

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In autumn the Maker’s pigments turn from the soft pastels of springtime to emboldened, jewel tones.  Glad witnesses are we to the green leaves on shining sumac, flowering dogwoods, Bradford pears, sweet gums, Shumard oaks, and crape myrtles changing to mixtures of burgundy, crimson, orange, and gold.  Other treats are setting buds for next year’s blossoms among the fiery red, ripening fruits of the dogwoods, and the deeper shades of blues and pinks that adorn the thickened petals of hydrangeas.  And if that is not enough to make the year smile, there are the willow leaves, among the other falling foliage, that rain down golden glory in one wave after the other like confetti from a ticker-tape parade.  In the gusting winds they litter the streets, and as cars pass by the multicolored leafage gives a festive look to curbs and lawns.  But again, that’s not all.  Roses bloom in deeper hues than before, the red fruits on the Prairifire crabapples shine forth, and sweet purple asters with their bright yellow eyes provide a closing feast for hordes of humming bees.  So smile on, lovely Autumn, and fill my heart with the hope I need to be strengthened against winter’s gathering storms.

Faithfulness spring’s forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.  The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.   ~Psalm 85:11-12  ✝