442. Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.
My garden of flowers is also my garden
of thoughts and dreams.
The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers,
and the dreams are beautiful.
~Abram L. Urban

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Although I began gardening quite some time before I retired, I had little time to devote much quality time to it. Now that I own my time, the garden has grown a great deal and been refined considerably, and it continues to be a constant source of delight for me. Come rain or shine, winter, spring, summer or fall, I walk its paths looking for the presences and realities that feed my soul. From day to day they are different, and there are times when the abundance of them is less or they are harder to find, but I never fail to find something to feast on, even if it’s just a tiny morsel.

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My garden, like any garden is still a work in progress however, and so it is never the same from season to season. The lay of the land may remain more or less the same, but the garden itself is dynamic and always in a state of flux–new things are planted each year, a few older or weaker ones die, and sometimes I find treasures growing in the garden that I didn’t have to plant or sow. And to insure that there is always something in bloom, I have tried to plant flowers in that flower at differing times so that when one group is spent, another is beginning to bloom. My garden, like any garden is still a work in progress however, and so it is never the same from season to season. The lay of the land may remain more or less the same, but the garden itself is dynamic and always in a state of flux–new things are planted each year, a few older or weaker ones die, and sometimes I find treasures growing in it that I didn’t have to plant or sow. And to insure that there is always something in bloom, I have tried to plant things that flower at differing times so that when one group is spent, another is beginning to bloom.

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A woman who had never been in my backyard visited me for the first time recently, and as we wandered around, she kept saying, “Wow! You should have been an artist,” and I thought to myself, “No, God’s the artist; I’m just the schemer, planner, planter, and steward of His gifts.” It was a nice compliment though, and in many ways, I do think a garden is a reflection of the person who designs it and brings it into reality. On another occasion my daughter brought a friend to see my yard, and her comment was “Wow! It’s like walking into another world,” and that’s exactly the feel I’d been trying to accomplish. I always wanted my garden to be a tranquil place of beauty blessed by the kind of peace the world cannot give. I deliberately designed it to be a welcoming place, a place of delight, so that no guest leaves it without being blessed by its beauty, and above all else I created it to be a place that speaks of God, His abundant gifts, and His amazing grace.

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~1 Corinthians 1:3   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

 

441. Bees do have smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury

The first week of August
hangs at the top of summer,
the top of the live-long year,
like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel
when it pauses turning.
The weeks that come before
are only a climb from balmy spring,
and those that follow 
a drop to the chill of autumn,
but August is motionless and hot.
~Natalie Babbit

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Months have passed since the jasmine climbed, the wisteria dangled, the snapdragons snapped, the poppies popped, and the birds obeyed spring’s pressing summons to build nests and procreate. Then after the summer solstice came and summer’s fires were stoked, the feverfew grew feverish, the pink loose-strife broke loose, the inland sea oats set sail on an ocean of green along the fence, and Columbine’s dove-like clusters turned brown, split open and spilled their bits of black seed bounty upon the ground. And whilst all this blooming was going on, the divine music of life that reached glorious crescendos in April grew more mellow in May, perkily sassy in June, and feverishly sultry in July. Two days hence from now, it would normally fall into a low, oppressed hum as August opens the doors to the boiler room, but strangely enough we are and will be for the next week experiencing some cooler than usual days. Though curious about the reason for such a blessing, I’ve learned never “to look a gift horse in the mouth.” The bees busily gathering nectar may grumble somewhat at this interloping gardener who sometimes stays too long in their domain or who moves to close in proximity to their pollen-rich environments such as the Texas Star Hibiscus in the photo, but grumble I shall not because normally this time of year we’re looking at the possibility of a record setting number of triple-digit-high days, days way, way too hot to enjoy even briefly being outside.

I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. ~Hosea 13:5   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

440. There must be a tomorrow, because my life overflows today. ~Lois Chartrand

Your heart is a sun—
Joy its stars,
Faith a moon, shining in your darkness…
~Terri Guillemets

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Photo of Southern Magnolia by: http://littlepicsofhope.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/southern-magnolia/

The First Verb

The Holy Spirit animates
all, moves
all, roots
all, forgives
all, cleanses
all, erases
all
our past mistakes, and then
puts medicine on our wounds.
We praise this Spirit of incandescence
for awakening
and reawakening
all
creation.

A song of medieval mystic,
~St. Hildegard of Bingen

For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. ~Isaiah 57:15   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

439. Grow flowers of gratitude in the soil of prayer. ~Terri Guillemets

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Thirst

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.

~Mary Oliver

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Who am I without your grace?
Another smile, another face
Another breath, a grain of sand
Passing quickly through Your hand
I give my life, an offering
Take it all, take everything
Let them see You in me
Let them hear you when I speak…
~Excerpt from a song
recorded by J.J. Weeks

“Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” ~2 Chronicles 6:40   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

** Flower photo via Pinterest

438. God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~William A. Ward

Whatever be the depth of woe
Along the path that I must go,
I’ll sing my song—
My song of joy for all the love
That’s lavished on us from above,
And count no loss of treasure-trove
When things go wrong.
I’ll sing the sunlight, and the bright
Soft smiling stars that gem the night;
For gifts of good
That God hath spread along my way,
The lilt of birds in tuneful play,
The harvests full and flowers gay,
The whole day long
I’ll sing my song
Of gratitude!
~John Kendrick Bangs

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The passage of Scripture below is not a suggestion. It’s a mandate. It’s not meant for only the good times. It’s meant for this day and every day no matter what comes our way. It doesn’t say to hang our heads in defeat or wring our hands in worry or fear when the world is harsh and times are tough. It says to rejoice and be glad in the day. Why? Because life is a gift and it’s holy, every breath is a gift and it’s holy, we are meant to be a gift to the world and we are holy. Being holy means not being defined by what comes against us, but to come into that which is holy and good within us. Joy can be found in every day, not because life is always good but because God is. Lest any who read this think me naive or the survivor of a “charmed” life to believe these things, let me allow that I’ve endured my fair share of “dark nights of the soul,” I’ve been in the black abyss and climbed out, I’ve felt death’s sting in the loss of some I’ve loved, I’ve known heartbreak and tragedy, I’ve known defeat and failure, I’ve experienced chilling betrayal, and I’ve lived with chronic pain for nearly 50 years. But, hear this, the Giver of life has never left me to walk those bitter paths alone, even during the times when I turned my back on Him. So when He asks me to make a joyful noise unto Him, I can and shall do naught but gratefully oblige.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

437. Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature. ~Kelly Sheaffer

Good heavens, of what uncostly material
is our earthly happiness composed…
if we only knew it.
What incomes have we not had from a flower,
and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons.
~James Russell Lowell

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Photo taken by: http://littlepicsofhope.wordpress.com/

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ~Matthew 25:21 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

436. The spiritual quality of earth: eternally pregnant and containing in its fertility the unwritten cipher of cosmic lore. ~Frieda Harris

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.
~Christina Rossetti

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Photo by: http://littlepicsofhope.wordpress.com/

I know the thrill of the grasses
when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves
when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt
as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals
at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the voracious caterpillars need
from the host plants on which they feed,
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows,
and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came
stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees.
~Adapted excerpt from “Creation Songs
by Muriel Strode

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. ~Psalm 65:8   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.