1409. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

For, after all, put it as we may ourselves,
we are all of us, from birth to death, guests
at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath
are parts of the banquet…
Shall we think of the day then as a chance
to come nearer our Host, and find out
something of Him who has fed us so long?
-Rebecca Harding Davis

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Autumn is perennially one of the two seasons in which I pray every available drop of glory lands squarely in the metaphorical cup intended to quench the thirst of the my soul. Although there are delights to serve that purpose in all the seasons, spring and fall feed my parched soul like no other, and I would lament the spillage of even a single drop of their honeyed elixir. From the very beginning all humanity has indeed been a guest at a table it did not set, and Yahweh who set the table remains the Gracious Host of the banquet which is annually laid before us. Given that, the question is how does one respond appropriately to the Lord’s continuous and magnanimous gifts. Among other things Scripture says His people should rejoice and be glad in their days and that they should be thankful for His gifts and praise Him always. So years ago when I began to realize how much a bent toward cynicism was squelching my gratitude and keeping me from receiving God’s full measure of grace, I began an experiment to prove something to myself. At the end of each day, I’d write down at least 5 blessings, good things that I’d experienced during the course of the day. Despite my doubts of accomplishing that goal for any length of time, I soon discovered that I could find more than enough commendable and/or noteworthy good things for which to thank God, especially the blessings that come through the five senses especially when I discovered that morning glories love the fall’s cooler temps and put on a splendid, “grand finale.” Once moe I realized that for any relationship to work and flourish it is not enough to just feel love. The recipient, be it a mortal he or she or a Deity, they must be told and shown as often as possible how deep our love and gratitude goes.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. -Philippians 2:1-2 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1230. Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. ~Author Unknown

To have and to hold
from this day forward
for better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
until death do us part.
~Author Unknown

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He was a he, a man seven years older than she, and she was a she, an ingénue about to complete her final year in college. And 53 years ago today, the he and the she became a we. Having met in January and becoming engaged in May James and I were married on August 17th, l963 by his college roommate, best friend, and ordained minister, Ron Engle. Since that day James and I have traversed side by side the valleys of better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health and struggled through times good and bad. But thankfully, as of yet, nothing has put asunder what God joined together so very long ago.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” ~Matthew 22:2  ✝

 

885. But these are flowers that fly and all but sing… ~Robert Frost

    The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

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Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!

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Thou winged blossom, liberated thing,
What secret tie binds thee to other flowers,
Still held within the garden’s fostering?
Will they too soar with the completed hours,
Take flight, and be like thee
Irrevocably free,
Hovering at will o’er their parental bowers?

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Or is thy lustre drawn from heavenly hues,
A sumptuous drifting fragment of the sky,
Caught when the sunset its last glance imbues
With sudden splendor, and the tree-tops high
Grasp that swift blazonry,
Then lend those tints to thee,
On thee to float a few short hours, and die?

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Birds have their nests; they rear their eager young,
And flit on errands all the livelong day;
Each fieldmouse keeps the homestead whence it sprung;
But thou art Nature’s freeman,—free to stray
Unfettered through the wood,
Seeking thine airy food,
The sweetness spiced on every blossomed spray.

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The garden one wide banquet spreads for thee,
O daintiest reveller of the joyous earth!
One drop of honey gives satiety;
A second draught would drug thee past all mirth.
Thy feast no orgy shows;
Thy calm eyes never close,
Thou soberest sprite to which the sun gives birth.
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in i, the world, and all who live in it. ~Psalm 24:1  ✝

**Photos via Pinterest

607. He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… ~John Burroughs

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral.
The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor
and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere,
is not lost either upon the head or the heart.
It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet
and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.
~John Burroughs

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At daybreak yesterday winter’s customary leaden skies spread out in brilliant, China blues, and the cold, cold January day issued forth golden streaks of sunlight that ran across the wheat-colored lawn. Blanketed in warmth inside, I sat for some time enjoying an untroubled spectacle and watching the birds fly back and forth from feeders to their sheltering places.  But soon the serenity of the scene was threatened by four feral cats who moved in, crouched down, and inched along the ground in hopes of securing a tasty “catch” for the day. However, as luck would have it, one of the birds spied the predators, sounded the alarm, and off they all flew. When the cats tired of waiting, they wandered off, and the birds returned to their feeding frenzy. Eventually I spotted the one for whom I’d been waiting; he, a bright red cardinal, zoomed in and perched momentarily atop the feeder pole, a throne not wholly unbefitting his majesty. As I lingered watching his bright red flashes flit about here, there, and everywhere, I realized that last night’s blustery north wind had ceased, and now only sporadic zephyrs were ruffling the bamboo’s leaves. And so it was that a splendid morn had unfolded and everything within my frame of vision had been steeped in a heavenly quietude, a “chirpy” kind of beauty, and a soothing calmness. What a healing balm tis such for one, wearied, crestfallen, and grappling with pain! The Lord, in His loving and mysterious ways, had tipped over my cup of despair and once more filled it to overflowing with His loving grace. O Eden, how you yet issue benedictions that fill and thrill the children of your faithful, Master Gardener.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. ~Genesis 2:15   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

525. The garden one wide banquet spreads for thee, O daintiest reveler of the joyous earth! ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Edmund Clarence Stedman

Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child 
in glad pursuit beguiled
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!
Excerpt from Ode to a Butterfly by
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Edmund Clarence Stedman

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A butterfly is one of the pollinating insects that carries and moves a flower’s grains of pollen around, and its labors enable fertilization and subsequent sexual reproduction. Given that, the butterfly is owed a debt of gratitude by us and the flower because its dance seems to be not only an act of celebratory reverence but also an act of jubilant purpose.  And who among us mortals, either young or old, finds not joy in the butterfly’s gleeful and beguiling dance.

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I often wonder why people who are easily wowed by the technology wrought of human hands fail to realize that without a dance, a marvel of Divine technology as seemingly insignificant as that of the bee and butterfly, that which supports our very existence would first be in great peril and then cease to exist. Neither do these individuals acknowledge that their ability to create technology is a gift, one not earned or designed by their own limited ability. The simple truth is that flowers cannot continue to exist without the help of a gracious and generous “pollinating” benefactor and neither can mankind. Each mortal’s life then should be a dance, an offering of reverent and joyful thankfulness to the Creator whose technology it is that creates life, enables the continuance of it, and gives us the intellect we need to create man-made technology.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139:13-14   ✝

**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.

408. I would maintain that thanks is the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us
from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet. . .
Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer our Host,
and to find out something of Him, who has fed us so long?
~Rebecca Harding Davis

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We are indeed guests at a table we did not spread, and built into Creation are elements that welcome us to the banquet and entreat us to seek the Host’s presence. In stillness, if we listen to the in and out movement of our breathing, we can feel the Host’s breath upon us. In listening to the beating of our own hearts, we come to recognize the beating of His heart at the heart of all life. If we reverence all that He has put upon the table, we will be given glimpses into His divine mystery. Our presence here is not a random act of molecular happenstance; we’ve been intentionally sent here by the Host to be kneaded into purposeful tidbits in humanity’s ongoing moveable feast, tidbits with talents that have the potential to enhance the flavor and make a difference in the quality of life at the table. Our lives are meant to touch other lives so that together the combined interactions add new dimensions to the overall flavor and enlarge the portions of goodness. And when we share our love and knowledge of the Host’s goodness and faithfulness we become His welcoming agent to other guests at the table.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7   ✝

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.