943. If you wish to know the Creator, come to know His creatures. ~Columbanus, Medieval Irish Monk

Out of the waters of God’s life
come the creatures of earth, sea, and sky.
With the birth of the creatures on the fifth day
there is the emergence of seeing, hearing,
smelling, tasting, and touching.
~J. Philip Newell

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One of the keys to listening needs to be simply an appreciative attentiveness to God’s creatures. The Book of Job says, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” And to look to the animal world is not to look away from God; instead, it’s a way to look at a showing forth of the mystery of God. For it reveals something of the way of God’s seeing and sensing, and one can see as well that in Creation’s mysteries is part of the Christ mystery.

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I’ve seen animals, such as the bird in the photo above, who seem to be bowing before the Creator in gratitude for life, for the day, for His continuing Presence here. There is also the unbroken song of the creatures. And in Revelation John envisaged an unending song of praise being sung by all that swims and flies and has motion. He said every creature on earth here below and in the ocean beneath and in the air above was giving glory to God, singing Holy, Holy, Holy. ~Both paragraphs contain directly quoted, paraphrased, and/or adapted random excerpts from THE BOOK OF CREATION by J. Philip Newell

Consider first the Canada Goose,
brown body, whitish breast
black head, long black neck…
Then there’s the Barnacle Goose…
flight note
a rapidly repeated gnuk
gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk
(like an ecstatic Eskimo)…
The snow goose
has a pure white plumage
with black-tipped wings…
In Europe you might take her for a swan
or maybe a gannet
till she lets you know abruptly
she’s all goose
so
there they go
through the wind, the rain, the snow
wild spirits knowing
what they know
~Kenneth White

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” ~Job 12:7-10  ✝

**Mike Bizeau posted the great photo of a bull elk on his blog, and I found the image of the bird with its head bowed on Pinterest

866. An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. ~Martin Buber

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Questers of the truth, that’s who dogs are;
seekers after the invisible scent
of another being’s authentic core.
~Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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We can judge the heart of a man
by his treatment of animals.
~Immanuel Kant

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Animals are such agreeable friends-
they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
~George Elliot

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All of the animals except for man know
that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.
~Samuel Butler

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The purity of a person’s heart
can be quickly measured
by how they regard animals.
~Author Unknown

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Love the animals: God has given them
the 
rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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I love cats because I enjoy my home;
and little by little they become its visible soul.
~Jean Cocteau

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Animals are not property or “things”
but rather living organisms, subjects of a life,
who are worthy of our compassion,
respect, friendship, and support.
~Marc Bekoff

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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.
~Chief Seattle of the Suwamish Tribe

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Animals are God’s creatures.
He surrounds them with his providential care.
By their mere existence they bless Him
and give Him glory. Thus men owe them kindness.
~Catholic Church, Catechism

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Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are so easily overlooked, their interests so easily brushed aside. Whenever we humans enter their world, from our farms to the local animal shelter to the African savanna, we enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy alike. ~Matthew Scully

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky, and they will tell you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hands is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind…” ~Job 12:7-10  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

720. O, the month of May, the merry month of may… ~Thomas Dekker

Ho! the merrie first of Maie
Brings the daunce and blossoms gaie
To make of lyfe a holiday!
~Old English saying

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Thousands of years ago winter was a time to honor death and the summer a time to honor life. In those ancient times the short days, grey skies, and cold temperatures began to wear people down and that coupled with a gradual decline in food supplies took its toll on their spirits. Indeed winter was a very difficult time for the ancients, and so the coming of summer brought them great hope. As the crops and grasslands became full of life again, the animals bred, and the warmth of the sun thawed out the earth and their spirits, they celebrated the cross-over and coming change in the human cycle that reflected the turning of the seasons. It was a time for celebrating the forces of life overcoming death, light overcoming darkness, and summer overcoming winter.

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Thus began the dancing around the May pole. A kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th century, began as a traditional artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences. An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the US well into the 1950’s.

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I remember in elementary school making May baskets and flowers out of coloredl pieces of construction paper and crepe paper. Today May Day has many different meanings, if any, but it eventually found its place in Christianity. And though considered quaint now, in decades past, like dancing around the maypole, as the month of April rolled to an end, people begin gathering flowers and candies and goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors, and loved ones on May 1st. And there were even rules about the basket tradition:

1.  Giving was supposed to be anonymous. Reciprocity was not expected. One was to leave the basket on the doorknob or doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
2.  Children were to give to grownups, instead of the other way around. On almost every other holiday, only the child receives gifts; so they don’t get to experience the true joy of unselfish giving.

He(Jesus) told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near…” ~Luke 21:29-30   ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collages created by Natalie

543. Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature. ~C.S. Lewis

Miracles, the sense of phenomena
we cannot explain,
surround us on every hand:
life itself is the miracle of miracles.
~George Bernard Shaw

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WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the
 water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds–or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down–or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring–yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the 
same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass–the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,
and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships,
with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
~Excerpts from Miracles
by Walt Whitman

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~Job 5:9   ✝

On November 9th, 2012, after two clots in my brain threatened my life, You, Lord Jesus, held me in Your precious hands and restored my health and wholeness. I praise and thank You, now and always.  Help me to stay under the mighty wings of Your grace and holiness!

420. At bottom 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 as he is, ever be put together a second time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

“You’re lovely, but you’re empty,” he went on.
“One couldn’t die for you.
Of course an ordinary passerby would think
my rose looked just like you.
But my rose…is more important… since she’s the one I’ve watered.
Since she’s the one I put under glass.
Since she’s the one I sheltered behind a screen.
Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars.
Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained,
or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all.
Since she’s my rose.”

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“People where you live,” the little prince said,
“grow five thousand roses in one garden. . .
yet they don’t find what they’re looking for. . .”
“And yet what they’re looking for could be found
in a single rose. . .”

And the little prince added,
“But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
“One sees clearly only with the heart.
Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

~Excerpts from THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

What the little prince said about the essential being invisible to the eyes is profoundly true. Scripture tells us we are made in the image of God, and that truth puts into perspective the vast and diverse abilities of our Maker. Simply put, it tells me that the Lord is bigger and more powerful that we could ever imagine. It also tells me there is a distinct reason for the uniqueness of every created entity. It tells me that how we feel about what our eyes see should be filtered first through that knowledge and our heart of hearts. It tells me that what we are matters only in the light of how we treat everyone and everything that crosses our path on this journey, be they flowers, be they animals, or be they people.

As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. ~Proverbs 27:19  ✝

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.

417. The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others. St. John Chrysostom

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.  Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

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Veiled in this fragile filigree of wax is the essence of sunshine, golden and limpid, tasting of grassy meadows, mountain wildflowers, lavishly blooming orange trees, or scrubby desert weeds. Honey, even more than wine, is a reflection of place. If the process of grape to glass is alchemy, then the trail from blossom to bottle is one of reflection. The nectar collected by the bee is the spirit and sap of the plant, its sweetest juice. Honey is the flower transmuted, its scent and beauty transformed into aroma and taste. 
 ~Stephanie Rosenbaum

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The careful insect ‘midst his works I view,
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew,
With golden treasures load his little thighs,
And steer his distant journey through the skies.
~John Gay

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His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for the bee’s experience
Of clovers, and of noon.
~Emily Dickinson

Eat honey, my child, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. ~Proverbs 24:13  ✝

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.

**Images via Pinterest

409. Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall. ~Author Unknown

I determine to live intentionally, God.
My life will be one of preparation and purpose,
bringing a heavenly fragrance into the stuff of earth.
~Jerome Daley

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The scent of a flower invites wildlife to its fragrant banquet, and the guests in turn purposefully do what they do so that the banquet table will never vanish or be empty. The Israelites were asked repeatedly in the Old Testament to offer up burnt sacrifices as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Though animals are no longer sacrificed as burnt offerings, there are ways we can offer up a pleasant aroma not only to the Lord but as Daley suggests to bring a heavenly fragrance into the very “stuff of earth.” Even when physical pain or emotional loss, like a knife wielding demon, carves out great chasms of anguish within body and soul, one can choose to emit “a heavenly fragrance” instead of a demon-defeated foul stench. So it is that today I lift up my voice as a pleasant aroma to the Lord though the challenges of an aging and ailing body be great and painful.  And this lovely gladiola that came only to be blown to the ground by high winds, I count not as loss but as gain that the lovely lady came at all.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:14  ✝

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.