1302. If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred. ~Walt Whitman

In order to experience everyday spirituality,
we need to remember that we are spiritual beings
spending some time in a human body.
~Barbara De Angelis

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The human body is am amazing masterpiece. With the senses we see, taste, and touch the world, drawing its mystery inside us. With the mind we probe the eternal structures of things. With the face we present ourselves to the world and recognize one another. But it is the heart that makes us human. The heart is where the beauty of the human spirit comes alive. Without the heart, the human would be sinister. To be able to feel is a great gift. When you feel for someone, you become united with that person in an intimate way; your concern and compassion come alive, drawing some of the other’s persons world and spirit into yours. Feeling is the secret bridge that penetrates solitude and isolation. Without the ability to feel, friendship and love could never be born. All feeling is born in the heart. This makes the human heart the true jewel of the world. ~John O’Donohue

Have joy and peace in the
temple of your senses.
~John O’Donohue

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~Proverbs 4:23  ✝

**Drawing by Catrin Welz-Stein

949. You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person. ~Alec Waug

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of
a bridge and lean over to watch the
river slipping slowly away beneath you,
you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
~From WINNIE THE POOH by A.A. Milne

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What is it, I wonder, that makes one fall in love with a place without ever having been there? Was it because I was born before the world lost all its innocence, or because I was naïve from having lived a sheltered existence in my young, formative years, or because I’m a dreamer and a romantic who loves fairy tale stories with happy endings, or because at 13 I saw a movie with William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, and Audrey Hepburn and fell in love with the place of magical bridges, glorious sunsets, and a beautiful river? Or is it because I fell in love at 18 with a song bearing a French title and written by a French singer/songwriter? Or because I’ve always loved art and sculpture and beauty, and the place I fell for is a paragon of those things? Or because I studied the French language in school and fell in love with the sounds of the words and the pictures in my text books? Or because I read a novel by Earnest Hemingway and fell in love with him and the city he adored and wrote about? Or is it all those things, especially when seen through the eyes of a sentimental, perhaps even sappy, free-spirited, hopeful, love junkie? Mais bien sûr, oui, oui, et oui!!!

Paris, it is you of whom I speak, and I’m that girl/woman that for more than 50 years has had an ongoing love affair with you, an affair I might add that started half a century before I ever met you in person. And now that I have spent time on two different occasions in your confines, I’m more in love with you than ever. An ex-student and fellow blogger, Victo(Behind the White Coat) at https://doctorly.wordpress.com, partially described my feelings when he wrote that “Sometimes you go to a city and it becomes a part of you. Then you go back and you feel as if you are now, somehow, a part of it.” The only difference is that you became both a part of me and I a part of you at the same time, and I will forever hold you close and dear to my heart. I may shed tears now for your recent tragedy, but I will always celebrate with joy and a smile your grandeur that yet stands in place. And I shall lift you up daily in prayers for safety.

But let all who take refuge in you(Lord) be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. ~Psalm 5:11  ✝

**Images found on Facebook and Pinterest

766. Paris is always a good idea! ~Audrey Hepburn

…wherever you go for the rest of your life,
it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
~Ernest Hemingway

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In the summer of 2013 about 6 weeks before our 50th wedding anniversary, James and I, along with our family, did in fact fly over the big pond. We landed first in London, and after three days there we took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland, which was another huge, huge treat for me. (My dad had worked for Southern Pacific Railroad when we were growing up and every summer we traveled to places all over the US by train, and I loved, loved, loved riding and sleeping on trains.) After 3 days in Scotland we flew to Dublin for 2 and a half days. And from Dublin… Are your ready for this?! Could I have a drum roll please!!! We flew to Paris! Regrettably we had booked a hotel in Versailles, instead of Paris proper, and so after being picked up by a prearranged taxi, we went  straight to our hotel to check in our luggage. Since it was quite late when we arrived at the hotel and we had yet to attempt traveling on the RER (Metro in Paris), we spent the evening in the town of Versailles. However, even though all I’d gotten to see of Paris that first day were views from the plane and a speeding taxi, it was enough to start the adrenaline flowing. The next morning when we got off the Metro in Paris and turned to walk onto the Pont Alexandre III bridge, one of the most ornate and extravagant bridges across the Seine, the excitement exploded into breathtaking fullness–so much so that I came to an abrupt halt right where I stood, frozen in place and completely stunned by everything that now lay before my eyes. The dream had at long last come to pass, and what I was seeing was even more dramatic and wondrous than I’d imagined. In that instant that bridge became a part of me and I belonged to it and it to me. Then when I turned to hear what my daughter was saying and the Eiffel Tower came into view, uncontrollable tears began streaming down my time-worn face. The teenage girl, who had fallen in love with the French language and Paris as a senior in high school, was finally witnessing her dream come true. Though, I could barely utter the words to explain the tears to my daughter, she somehow knew to put her arm around me and stand there with me as I took it all in. Then as we turned to walk across the bridge to join the others, I was stung on the side of my face by a bee. But ya know, no matter how bad that sting hurt and it did, there was nothing, simply nothing, that could have kept me from relishing that moment on the Pont Alexandre that glorious morning. I was “home” in a sense, and in less than 2 weeks, we are going “home” to Paris to feast for the second time. This time our hotel is between the Eiffel Tower and the Pont Alexandre. Imagine that?! My, oh my, oh my! How very, very good God is!!! By the way, I was thrilled that James fell in love with Paris from the get go, but it’s probably a very good thing that he didn’t say something silly like, “I wish we’d come here years earlier.”

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. ~Psalm 62:5  ✝

**The Pont Alexandre III, the Beaux-Arts style bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. (Pictures in collage are mine.)

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756. Because the purpose of any descent is always in order to ascend. ~Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

Life is a song – sing it.
Life is a game – play it.
Life is a challenge – meet it.
Life is a dream – realize it.
Life is a sacrifice – offer it.
Life is love – enjoy it.
~Sai Baba

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So it was that upward and onward I went into my junior year–singing a new song, playing a new game, dreaming of Paris, and attempting to meet the challenges of life and school. But the sacrificing and loving part were still on hold. I had taken my mom’s advice about getting a teaching certificate.  To do that I had had to choose a second teaching field, and because French had always been so easy for me I opted to take Spanish. But wait just a minute. Ya know, since I really didn’t want to be a teacher, the sacrificing really had begun in a way. Nevertheless I began taking Spanish as well as learning more French.  In one of my 3rd year French classes we were having fun trying to read LE PETIT PRINCE, and when not in class or working for the Dean, I was continuing to have a great deal of fun playing bridge. Hmmmm? Now that I think back, around the time of my 20th birthday in October, my friend Danny was taking me home after a bridge game and we were philosophizing, as college students often do, about this, that, and the other. During the conversation the subject of marriage came up. Since I still had had no serious romantic love interests, I glibly replied that I didn’t think I would ever get married. Danny responded by saying that he had heard that if you bet someone $50 that you wouldn’t get married in the coming year, it would surely happen. I laughed out loud at such nonsense and met the challenge with, “Okay, you’re on, hot shot.” To be continued…. (2 weeks, 4 days and counting)

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. ~Psalm 51:17  ✝

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

754. It took a lone assent of self to get back up… ~Julie Cook (https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/about/)

A voice beneath the surface
Speaks
Echoes into my
Inner being
Inner heart
Inner mind
Blessing me
With
Strength to arise
~Yoshiko
(https://zyoshiko.wordpress.com/author/yoshikoz/)

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We are more than what people see on the surface. We are narratives, stories that make us who and what we are. And the stories are ripe with sorrows and joys, defeats and victories, love and loss, suffering and wellness–all those things each of us must face in life. And like my friend, Virginia, says “when you shed light on your past and how it affected you, it illustrates the transition that occurred to mold you into the person you are today.” So here I go with the next installment in my little story.

After being stuck in limbo the first semester of my sophomore year, I eventually found the strength to rise, albeit on wobbly and unsure legs at times, and I began the “lone assent of self” back into the mainstream of life. It was the summer of ‘62 and I had decided to continue working half a day for the Dean of Women as well as get a couple of courses out of the way in summer school. Since I only worked in the afternoons, I had some time on my hands after my morning classes were over, and what better place to go than the student center where food and friends awaited a hungry “climber.” The living was easy that summer and life was good. I had met some new friends who were teaching me to play bridge. And soon Keith, Danny, and I were playing bridge well enough to play in competition, and that summer would become one of the most memorable ones of my life. To be continued… (2 weeks, 5 days and counting…)

…weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 ✝

**Image of old French, 1902 calendar page found on Pinterest

541. Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air. ~Georges Bernanos

Who will tell whether one happy moment
of love or the joy of breathing or walking
on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air,
is not worth all the suffering and effort
which life implies.
~Erich Seligmann Fromm

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Let us bless the air
Benefactor of breath,
Keeper of the fragile bridge
We breathe across.

Air waiting outside
The womb, to funnel
A first breath
That lets us begin
To be here,
Each moment
Drawn from
Its invisible stock.
~Excerpt from In Praise of Air
by John O’Donohue

In His hands is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. ~Job 12:10  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

370. In the secret, in the quiet place, in the stillness You are there. ~Chris Tomlin

As stillness in stone to silence is wed,
May solitude foster your truth in word.

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As a river flows in ideal sequence,
May your soul reveal where time is presence.

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As the moon absolves the dark of distance,
May your style of thought bridge the difference.

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As the breath of light awakens color,
May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.

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As spring rain softens the earth with surprise,
May your winter places be kissed by light.

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As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,
May the grace of change bring you elegance.

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As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,
May your outer life grow from peace within.

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As twilight pervades the belief of night,
May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.
~John O’Donohue

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Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles… ~1 Chronicles 16:11-12 ✝

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!

Speak Lord in the stillness,
While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen
In expectancy.
~song lyrics by Worship

**Some images via Pinterest.