A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health,
and quiet breathing.
The human body needs one kind of nourishment, while the spirit needs to be fed in other ways. One of the needs of the spirit is beauty, and nature’s vast array of beauty has a way of strengthening and healing body and soul. Creation is a place to “play in and pray in,” and when we spend time in earth’s sanctuaries, we gain a better perspective of what’s really important as our senses are heightened and ordered. Rachel Carson alleged that “those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” and as Keats said, our breathing becomes quieter in such places. Quieted and slow breathing does indeed promote a sense of well being and induce a healthy state of mind. Also, when we are alone with the Lord in any of nature’s settings, it is easy to feel His presence. More importantly if we listen carefully when in the midst of the natural world’s profound silences, we can hear Him speak to us.
God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds–
and I think that He has made them partly as a
balance for that kind of civilization that would
choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts.
He made the great open places for people who want
to be away from the crowds that kill all reverence.
And I think He is glad at times to have us forget our cares
and responsibilities so that we may be nearer Him–
as Jesus was when He crept away into the wilderness to pray.
~Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35 ✝
The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression,
and their author always has a niche
in the temple of memory
from which the image is never cast out
to be thrown on the rubbish heap
of things that are outgrown or outlived.
The “shy presences” of which Douglas spoke can be very real ones, like toads or snails or garden snakes and such; however, the “shy presences” for an imaginative child are often both real as well as make believe. For them the real ones might be shadow dancers, enlivened dollops of light, or glistening drops of dew whereas their make-believe ones might be the fabled “wee folk” found in stories they’ve heard or read. Gardens in and of themselves are naturally enchanting places, and tales of “fairies, elves, and leprechauns” can’t help but add an irresistible dimension to that enchantment, at least in the mind of a child or in someone with a very healthy inner child. And as Mr. Pyle so aptly put it, childhood images are never cast out onto rubbish heaps but instead leave “indelible impressions in the temples of our memories.” That’s why in early spring findings such as grape hyacinth, daffodils, crocus, snowdrops, and tulips can open doors in revered temples of memory and thus release cherished phrases such as “fairy woods where the wild bee wings,” or “tiny trees for tiny dames,” or “tiny woods below whose bough shady fairies weave a house,” or “tiny tree tops, rose or thyme, where the braver fairies climb” as found in poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and others. Or maybe they come from a poem like this one below:
THERE are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
It’s not so very, very far away;
You pass the gardner’s shed and you
just keep straight ahead —
I do so hope they’ve really come to stay.
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
They often have a dance on summer nights;
The butterflies and bees make a lovely little breeze,
And the rabbits stand about and hold the lights.
Did you know that they could sit upon the moonbeams
And pick a little star to make a fan,
And dance away up there in the middle of the air?
Well, they can.
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
Now you can guess who that could be
(She’s a little girl all day, but at night she steals away)?
Well — it’s Me!
~Excerpted lines from a poem
by Rose Fyleman
I believe in God, and that there are pieces of him, called love and goodness, in everyone. I also believe in prayer, not the memorized type mumbled in church but the spontaneous kind spoken, ironically, in the last breath of the day, when the lamp has been dimmed and the bedspread drawn down, and it’s just you and those pieces of God in you, alone…. I suspect that when a man grows too big to kneel, then he is destined to fall. ~Joe Kita
By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:8 ✝
**The image is of monarda that grew in garden last summer.
When I am alone I can become invisible.
I can sit on top of a dune as motionless as an
uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound
of the roses singing.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free. Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. ~Matthew 11:15 (ESV) ✝
If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude,
everything that you need to know will be revealed to you.
Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves; that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
He(Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” ~Mark 6:31 ✝