1269. The object of our lives is to look at, listen to, touch, taste things.  Without them,-these sticks, stones, feathers, shells,-there is no Deity. ~R. H. Blyth

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In the afternoons,
in the almost  empty fields,
I hum the hymns
I used to sing

in church.
They could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,
alas,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
I will not tell
any of you,

not ever.
Still, as they promised,
God, once he is in your heart,
is everywhere –

so even here
among the weeds
and the brisk trees.
How long does it take

to hum a hymn?  Strolling
one or two acres
of the sweetness
of the world,

not counting
a lapse, now and again,
of sheer emptiness.
Once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
And sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

Am I lonely?
The beautiful, striped sparrow,
serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom,
also sings without words.
-Mary Oliver 

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3  ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collage by Natalie

1167. My job is to inform, not to convince. ~Saint Bernadette

Looking for God?
And haven’t found Him In a building
Or on an altar
Or in a religious rite
Or in a churchly ceremony
Or in the words/actions of Christians?

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“And the Holy Spirit descended in
a bodily shape like a dove upon Jesus,
and a voice came from heaven, which said,
“Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
~Luke 3:22  ✝

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So the answer lies in Jesus and what He taught
and how then, upon learning that, that people
choose to live out His teachings in their daily lives.
Of course there are always the proverbial “rotten apples”
found in any kind of “barrel,” but even though they
don’t  get it at all or get it right, they can’t spoil the Truth 
Sadly, however, there are those who pervert it
or by their wrong actions keep others from finding it.

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If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. ~1 Corinthians 13:1  ✝

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If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:2-3  ✝

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ~1 Corinthians 13: 4-7   ✝

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~1 Corinthians 13:13  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

1146. An interior is the natural projection of the soul. ~Coco Chanel

A house is much more than a mere shelter.
It should lift us emotionally and spiritually.
~John Saladino

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This week I mentioned to a friend that I was getting a new sofa for our living room, and she asked me to send her a picture of it when it came. So I took some photos and afterwards I sat on it a while, along with my cat, enjoying my newly cleaned living room and looking at all the things that we have accumulated therein over the last 40 years. Ours is not a large house and it’s a modest one, but we have done some things within our means over the years to improve and update it. It’s still certainly not a fancy one; but it is ours and so holds all that define who and what James and Natalie and Nikki are. Simply put, it is the altar upon which lie the strivings, good and bad, of our combined lives. And since then I’ve been wondering what others might have to say about what makes a house a home and if it means the same for everyone? So to delve into that quandary I gathered some thoughts by others who more or less put into words what I would say on that subject and decided to accompany them with photos of the part of my house I took that day.

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I always amazes me to thing that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways. ~Glenn Close

Luxuries are never so comfortable
as
are the familiar, ordinary things of home. ~Eucharista Ward

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule. ~Frederick W. Robertson

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Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. ~Charles Dickens

Home is where we feel at ease,
where we belong,
where we can create surroundings
that reflect our tastes and pleasures…
Making a home is a form
of creativity open to everyone.
~Terence Conran

Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our after life melodies and harmonies of old-remembered joy. ~Henry Ward Beecher

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Home is a place where we feel safe and comfortable, a place to relax and recharge. ~Catherine Pulsifer

There is a magic in that little world, home;
it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts
and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.
~Robert Southey

Home is the father’s kingdom, the mother’s world and a child’s paradise. Home is the heart of life… ~Christian Morgenstern

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Where is home? Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace. ~Vernon G. Baker

Home is
where you can be silent
and still be heard . . .
When you can ask
and find out who you are . . .
Where people laugh with you
about yourself . . .
Where sorrow is divided
and joy multiplied . . .
Where we share and love
and grow.
~Author Unknown

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3  ✝

**The top photo is a part of the front of my house.

1039. Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan. ~Albert Schweitzer

Oh to relive
those Old Sundays,
those sacred things…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

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My faith journey began long ago at a time when I was young enough that all I knew was unmarred innocence, youthful unawareness, and blind acceptance of what I’d been told and taught. In handmade, starched and often white organdy dresses and on feet in meticulously polished white shoes I’d enter with my family, as I’d been taught, solemnly and quietly into church buildings with their tall steeples and large, sonorous bells that called the masses to worship. Inside there was the unmistakable aroma of old wooden pews, time-worn Bibles, and tattered hymnals that spoke of countless others who had come before us to worship. And because it was a time of greater formality, we were greeted at the doors by ushers in dark suits wearing white carnations in their lapels; these men and/or women would hand us freshly printed programs as they led us down the aisle to a pew with red velvet cushions, cushions that had seen many a day and been sat on by a multitude of churchgoers. Somewhere along the way to our seats, I would encounter an image of the Christ who was portrayed as a man with soft brown hair and a sweet face. When all who had heeded the call to worship were seated, the acolytes would march in under gothic arches carrying state and national flags in the glow of blue, red, green, and yellow light streaming through the stained-glass windows. On their heels came the choir and the robed pastoral staff. Once everyone was in place, choral voices led us in songs before we were implored to make affirmations of faith and recite the Lord’s prayer. Then came the giving of tithes in gold offertory plates, before we drank from silver chalices filled with the “Blood of Christ” and took from a silver plate the bread wafer that symbolized the “Body of Christ.” All the while these sacred things were taking place, a large pipe organ played softly in the background behind flickering candles and pretty flowers on altars covered in sacramental cloths. Finally by the time all was said and done within the hallowed gray, stone walls, we had sung a number of old familiar hymns, shouted amens, listened to a tutorial sermon, bowed our heads for the holy benedictions, read words of Scripture, raised our arms and voices in praise, and prayed for friends and neighbors as well as the hungry and the needy. And all of it was fervently carried out in hopes that God, was then and would always be with us, listen to our pleas, and answer our prayers.

Sadly at a church after we moved here I witnessed such widespread hypocrisy and intolerant prejudice by clergy and church members alike that I stopped going to church and turned away from Lord and His teachings at the age of 19.  However, the Good Shepherd would not let go of that which was rightfully His and so He pursued me for the next two decades as He does all of His wandering and lost “sheep” until one day I turned to listen to His voice again. Soon afterwards I chose to walk back into a church, and fortunately it was one where sincere sanctity appeared to be palpable and devout holiness seemed to permeate all that and who had gathered to honor and consecrate the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ. It felt like home and I knew I was home. As sentient beings, everything we encounter evokes some kind of emotional response from us which affects both flesh and psyche. So powerful and evocative are such experiences sometimes that there have been people who are healed of life-threatening diseases by constantly picturing themselves in times and places of the past wherein they were happy and well and sensed the presence of the Almighty.

Experience life in all possible ways –
good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter.
Experience all the dualities.
Don’t be afraid of experience,
because the more experience you have,
the more mature you become.
~Osho

The sacred pathway is
not hard, children
know it…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

…if I(Paul) am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. ~1 Timothy 3:15-16  ✝

**All but one image via Pinterest; collage by Natalie, and one photo of Natalie

897. A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy. ~Luis Barragan

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein

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By Einstein’s definition above, I’m not dead yet, for my eyes still open and I frequently stand wrapped in awe when I find amazing things like what you see in these photos. What caught my eye at first was the marker identifying the vine as a Dutchman’s Pipe whose flowers, it said, have an interesting and specialized pollination mechanism. Intrigued by that I read on to find that because they are quite aromatic, their strong scent attracts insects, and that the inner part of their perianth tube (or pipe stem) is covered with hairs that act as a fly trap. Once caught these hairs wither to release the fly who has been covered with pollen. That in and of itself was more than enough to wow me. But now after also having seen the strangely beautiful and mysterious flower and its seed pods, I can, with complete confidence, attest to the fact that my emotions are not yet strangers either. Once again the Lord’s amazing creativity and imagination have stopped me in my tracks and taken my breath away. Chronic pain may have long been my lot in life to bear, but I can do nothing less than continually praise the Lord and express my gratitude for unlike me there are so many people in the world who have little to nothing but misery, grief, suffering, and grievous iniquities dumped over and over again upon their plates. Such is why tears so often flood these eyes that yet allow me to see and emotions erupt that yet allow me to feel.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? ~Job 11:7  ✝

**Sadly with the recent debacle on computer that I shared with my readers, I’ve discovered that some of my photos are missing or in a black hole somewhere. So I had to use these that I found on Pinterest.

747. Give me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling… ~What Whitman

I’ll tell you how the sun rose,
-a ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”
~Emily Dickinson

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“The sun says his prayers,” said the fairy,
Or else he would wither and die.
“The sun says his prayers,” said the fairy,
“For strength to climb up through the sky.
He leans on invisible angels,
And Faith is his prop and his rod.
The sky is his crystal cathedral.
And dawn is his altar to God.”
~Vachel Lindsay

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Ya know coming all to soon upon us now are the days when I’ll be begging for clouds, any kind of clouds, even one big cloud to shade us at least for a little while from the sweltering heat of the summer sun here in Texas, but today after more than a month of gray, gloomy, cloudy, rainy days, I was thrilled to see the sun at daybreak. And although we have more chances for more the rest of the week, it has been deliciously sunny most of the day. Throughout the last decade we have been through a harsh and severe drought that left our water reservoirs in dangerously low or in some areas where the lakes or other water supplies had completely dried up. So I prayed and prayed for rain and promised never to complain about it ever be importune again. And I won’t break that promise to the Lord, but now that our rivers and lakes are approaching flood stage or already flowing over, I pray that the Lord spread the rains out over the summer months before there’s any more loss of life and/or property.

This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” ~Isaiah 18:4   ✝

**Images via Pinterest; notice the photo of the deer who seems to be praising the Lord for the sun’s appearance.

724. Earth, thou great footstool of our God, who reigns on high; thou fruitful source of all our raiment, life, and food; our house, our parent, and our nurse. ~Isaac Watts

So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil
of this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world is made,
and the stars that blaze in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge we bear.
~Jan Richardson

“Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this… ~Job 12:7-9    ✝

*Image via Pinterest