237. Within the seed’s case a secret is held. Its fertile whisper shapes a song. ~Joan Halifax

I have great faith in a seed.
Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders.
~Henry David Thoreau

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Shhh!  Can you hear it?  Look at the photos.  This is the hope; this is winter’s promise; this is the fertile whisper!   But wait, everything in the photographs is dried up and brown.  And dead!

Oh do not be deceived by appearances, my friends, for these seed cases are ripe and what they hold is ever so viable!  Their wealth may now be kept inside in secrecy but trust me these cases are vigilant and waiting–waiting for that wondrous moment in time when enough warmth and light and moisture will enliven their songs of fertility.  And then they will split wide open, spill their sacred secrets upon the soil, and spark new life.

David Walters said, “God’s promises are like the stars, the darker the night, the brighter they shine.”  For me seed cases are like God’s promises as well because the deeper and darker winter becomes, the more the expectation of what they hold brightens winter’s cold and forbidding days.  As their sweet melodies take shape, they keep the hopeful dream of spring alive when what I see conveys a story of death and decay.

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”  ~Genesis 1:29  ✝

219. That each day I may walk unceasingly on the banks of my water, that my soul may repose on the branches of the trees which I planted, that I may refresh myself under the shadow of my sycamore. ~Egyptian Tomb Inscription, circa 1400 BCE

Because they are primeval, because they outlive us,
because they are fixed, trees seem to emanate a sense of permanence.
And though rooted in earth, they seem to touch the sky.
For these reasons it is natural to feel we might learn wisdom from them,
to haunt about them with the idea that if we could only read
their silent riddle rightly we should learn some secret vital
to our real, our lasting and spiritual existence.
~Kim Taplin

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Before the sun fell over the edge of the world yesterday, it painted its recently traversed path with reddish-pink and mauve streaks.  In between the streaks were smaller golden rays that eventually blended into the pinker bands of light.  As these streaks shot up to the sky’s pinnacle, they oozed deliciousness through the open spaces in one of my favorite trees.  It’s a sycamore tree directly across the street from our house, and it’s so old that most of its bark has fallen away.  When it has, as it has now, lost most of its floppy brown leaves the tree’s strange fruits are more visible as area its long, slender alabaster arms, arms that seem to reach up and caress the heavens’ spacious blue lagoons.  Another thing I love about this particular tree is that in winter’s chilling winds its clattering branches seem to whisper prophecies of another spring’s birthing beneath the soil in silent chambers waiting for the prompting of the sun’s warmth on lengthening days and spring rains.

I’m the first one to admit that sometimes I’m hard pressed on difficult days to find reasons to be joyful, but I’m learning to look expectantly as well as long enough to find some measure of God’s glory in the day at hand.  When dealing with a run of painful days as I am now, it becomes not only more challenging but also more necessary.  The Holy Spirit within is the protector of one’s spiritual flame as well as a guide, and so if one turns inward to look for an appointment of grace, he/she will find what’s needed to press upward and onward.  On this day that spark of relief and mercy was found in the beauty of a tree.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  ~Psalm 118:24  ✝

204. The autumn leaves drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold…and soon I’ll hear old winter’s song… ~Excerpts from a tune by Johnny Mercer

There is music in the meadows, in the air…
Leaves are crimson, brown, and yellow…
There is rhythm in the woods,
And in the fields, nature yields…
~Excerpts from LYRIC OF AUTUMN by
William Stanley Braithwaite

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It was 1947 when Johnny Mercer borrowed lines from a French song to create the lyrics to his unforgettable melody, AUTUMN LEAVES, a song I find myself singing, at least the parts I remember, almost every year as I tear November’s page off the calendar.  Why?  I don’t know.  The words just seem appropriate when autumn’s persistent winds, wild with leaves, blow wide open the final month’s portals, and this year’s opening was no different.  November’s yet in place blustery gales did in fact sweep December onto its throne.  Once seated, the 12th month opened under bright, sunny skies, but by noon day one had become shrouded in unending shades of gray.   When night fell, there were few, if any, remaining leaves on the redbud and willow at the back of the yard.  The beneficiaries of these as well as the oak’s leaves when they fall are the big island bed and my secret garden in the north corner.  So now not only can my voice be heard singing autumn’s anthems, but wherever these tinted tidbits lie, I’ll be able to hear them crooning their embracing ballads of promise.  And theirs, songs different from the ones in springtime, pledge warmth and declare they’ll keep my plants safe during the bitter, stone-cold days of winter.  But wait, things like trees and leaves sing?  Really? As a matter of fact, according to some Scriptural references and to those of us who listen carefully, they do!

The Lord reigns…Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing with joy.  ~Psalm 96:11-12  ✝

18. The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. ~J. B. Priestley

Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Our area, that had been desperately in need of rain, was the beneficiary of fortuitous events on Christmas Eve.  Could it be that the celebration of the Messiah’s coming the night before was what prompted the blessing of rain as well as the magical, miracle of snow.  So many voices were lifted up in praise and worship of Him that our petitions for rain might have been heard as well. Occasionally on cold, crisp wintry days or nights layers of snow blanket God’s creation even here in north central Texas, but this time we received a strange mixture of “wet” goodness.  At eventide sparkling stars punctuated the ancient moon in heaven’s blackened dome, but during the course of the Messiah’s birthday, clouds laden with moistures moved in, flashes of lightning lit up the sky, a good amount of rain was garnered, hail fell, and finally snow covered the landscape.  If this is not an assortment of  Divine providence mixed with earthly “enchantment,” then as Priestley says, “where is such to be found?”

Praise His Holy Name!