1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

896. Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo

Music by itself carries us beyond
words and thoughts into the realm of feeling.
~Jane E. Vennard

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It has been officially autumn for a couple of weeks now, but the temperature and unchanging leaves tell a different story. Theirs is a tale of summer, a summer not yet wanting to relinquish its throne. While begrudging that fact as I sat in a church meeting yesterday, a man quietly entered the room, sat down at a piano behind me, started playing a familiar tune, and as if by magic changed everything for the better. For almost immediately after he began playing, autumn’s glory flowed down his arms and oozed from his fingertips onto the piano’s keys. As he played on, the tinkling sounds of the musical notes emulated more and more the spectacle of autumn’s falling leaves. Enthralled I turned so I could watch him play and noticed he was not reading sheet music. Instead he was playing solely from memory and out of his heart. Thus as Vennard suggests, music  does remove the limitations of words and speaks to us of things bigger and grander than the mere scope of language can, so much so that it is indeed able to carry us into and from the “realm of feeling.” Not only that but when we quiet our bodies and minds and listen carefully, we are also able to discern, in the silence of music’s pauses, the holy footfalls of Yahweh’s abiding Presence in Creation.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song music. ~Psalm 98:4  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

870. A hug makes you feel good all day. ~Kathleen Keating

A hug delights and warms and charms;
that must be why God gave us arms.
~Author Unknown

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A hug is the perfect gift:
one size fits all, and
nobody minds if you exchange it.
~Irvin Ball

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Love is a circular emotion
that surrounds you, like a hug,
~Jarod Kintz

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One word can end a fight;
One hug can start a friendship;
One smile can being unity;
One person can change your entire life!
~Israelmore Ayivor

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Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. ~Proverbs 4:8  ✝

**images via Pinterest; collages by Natalie

736. I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms. ~Louise Erdrich

My poetry was born
between the hill and the river.
It took its voice
 from the rain,
and like the timber,
it steeped itself in the forests.
~Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and
winner of the Nobel Prize in literature

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I expect there are many writers, like Neruda, as well as artists and musicians who have found a voice in the rain as it evokes strong emotions in the human heart. In some unfathomable way I even believe rain is wedded to the human soul. So it is that I am drawn into its web and mystery whenever it blesses this arid and often drought-ridden land where I live. I’m not only intoxicated by the sounds and sights of it but also the whole other level of interest it creates in the garden and other earthly places.

Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.
~ St. Hildegard von Bingen

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The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands… ~Deuteronomy 28:12   ✝

**Upper collage created by Natalie from her photo archives; lower collage created from images via Pinterest

565. Come, come thou bleak December wind, and blow the dry leaves from the tree! ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Through bare trees
I can be winter’s innocence,
unashamed needfulness,
the thin and reaching limbs 
of a beggar,
longing to touch 
but the hem of the sun.
~Lisa Lindsey

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It’s the first morn of December. It’s cold. It’s gray. Leaves are brown, dying, or gone. Branches already bare resemble arms reaching to the heavens for something or someone. A norther continues to blow open wider and wider the gates of the year’s Sabbath, and the wings and winds of change are palpable in the frosty air. In the garden’s resounding gong, in its tinkling wind chimes, and in its clanging bells I hear portents of the changes. I’m reminded not only by these sounds but also by the morning’s silences that December is a time of expectancy, a time of waiting, and a time of preparation; moreover, it is a time to share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s birth as well as a time to look forward to His second coming. And since our time coin for this year is almost spent, it is time now more than ever to let love reign our hearts, to let peace be our constant prayer, to let compassion and giving pour our of our gratitude for another year of Yahweh’s gifts, blessings, fulfilled promises, and miracles. And it is also time, now and always, to reach for the heavens and praise God for all that He is, for all that He has done, and all that He continues to do for His children!

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

** Image via Pinterest, but edited by Natalie

561. If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. ~Rabbi Harold Kushner

Above me and below me
Hovers the beautiful.
I am surrounded by it.
I am immersed in it.
~Native American Saying

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I thank God for the ways of Creation–
For eyes to see Creation’s beauty,
For ears to hear Creation’s sounds,
For a tongue to taste Creation’s savory delights,
For a nose to smell Creation’s sweet aromas,
For arms to embrace others with a loving touch,
For a heart to understand the ways of the Lord,
For words to praise the triune God, Maker of heaven and earth.
~Edited and adapted from a Native American prayer

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. ~Psalm 69:30   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

552. So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days. ~Colette, French novelist and performer

Wild Geese 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

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Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~Mary Oliver

Several of my readers have recently voiced, either by word or in the sounds of their silence between the lines, a measure of sorrow and despair. Know that you are loved and held in the arms of Divine Grace as well as in my heart and prayers. May you soon encounter the “angel of hope” bearing the “commonplace little miracle” which will “mend again the necklace of your days.”

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. ~Job 10:12  ✝

** Image via Pinterest