1157. To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself
the means of inspiration and survival.
~Winston Churchil

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One of my favorite quotes is by G.K. Chesterton: “Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.” Decades ago when I was going through a particularly dark and difficult time, I spent 8 months in the weekly care and tutelage of a healing mentor who after spending an hour with me on the first visit, asked this question, “If you were a 4 year old child what would you want to do right now?” Since it had been a long day at work and I was tired and a bit hungry, I said, “Get a chocolate ice cream cone.” Subsequently she asked me if I knew where to get one and when I said yes, she stood up and declared, “Good, I want you to do that today and every time we finish our work here.” Though dumbfounded by such an unexpected and odd request, I followed the doctor’s orders and eventually came to know the reason behind it.

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The child we once were didn’t die. He/she is still alive and well somewhere inside all the years of growing and becoming an adult. And like any sentient being our inner child is still able to perceive and feel things. Thus he/she needs to be fed and nurtured and stimulated. And part of my problem back then was that my inner child was and had been for some time apparently starving to death. I know to some of you that may sound silly or absurd, but becoming aware of that and learning how to take care of little Natalie Holcomb has brought great healing to grown-up Natalie Scarberry. And so it is that when the day by day grind of pain and the day after day accounts of doom and gloom on the world’s stage begin to break me that I find ways to feed and delight my inner child on a grander scale. Besides finding way to do that in the glory of my garden, I often come by it as well in humor and the stories I adored in childhood. Thus all the silliness on my blog today. It was simply time to throw off the suffering and heaviness and darkness of this fallen world and time to talk of unicorns and white rabbits and good faeries and such. Ergo as Chesterton said, the saving of my soul and my life is underway one again. Yay team!

…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ~Excerpted line from Romans 5:3-4  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

1155. A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars. ~Victor Hugo

I haven’t much time to be fond of anything…
but when I have a moment’s fondness
to bestow, most times…the roses get it.
I began my life among them
in my father’s nursery garden, and
I shall end my life among them, if I can.
~Wilkie Collins

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The garden is the place I go for refuge and shelter, not the house. In the house are duties and annoyances, servants to exhort and admonish, furniture, and meals; but out there blessings crowd round me at every step — it is there that I am sorry for the unkindness in me, for those selfish thoughts that are so much worse than they feel; it is there that all my sins and silliness are forgiven, there that I feel protected and at home, and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover. When I have been vexed I run to them for comfort, and when I have been angry without just cause, it is there I find absolution. Did ever a woman have so many friends? And always the same, always ready to welcome me and fill me with cheerful thoughts. Happy children of a common Father, why should I, their own sister, be less content and joyous than they? ~Elizabeth von Arnim

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Gardens and chocolate
both have mystical qualities.
~Edward Flaherty

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I would hurry to my place of shelter far from the tempest and the storm. ~Psalm 55:8 ✝

**All flower images taken by me in my yard; lower most chocolate image via Pinterest

1121. I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. ~Phyllis Theroux

My extravagance is my garden –
it’s the first thing I look at
every morning when I wake up.
It gives me so much pleasure.
~Ina Garten

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According to Margaret Atwood, “Gardening is not a rational act.” And though I like to think of myself as a fairly rational person most of the time, I’m given from time to time, like most folks, to a little irrationality especially in the garden. So here goes today’s saga about my most recent fall from rational grace, as it were. The only thing I needed at the nursery was a bag of planting mix, but as always I wanted to stroll up and down the rows and rows of flowers before making my purchase. The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing white clematis with its chocolate colored anthers. As I stood admiring it, I kept saying to myself, “No, Natalie, you do NOT need to buy another plant.” So even though I’ve grown very fond of clematis, I walked away with great resolve to resist the urge to buy anything and went on down the way to look at the roses. Of course there were some gorgeous varieties of those too, but I told myself that I didn’t need those either and then headed back to the front to check out. On the way, as chance would have it, I heard someone call my name and when I turned to see who it was, my next door neighbor was standing right next to the pots of those white clematis. Nevertheless, I went ahead and walked on over to chat with her for a few minutes, and then I turned resolvedly to walk away. That was when I could swear I heard the white clematis speaking to me and saying, “you’ll regret it if you don’t come back and take me home.” And darn it, I knew I would. So I walked back one more time to see how much it was and read the information about it hoping that either or both would deter me. Despite the fact that it was a little pricey however, how could anyone walk away from anything described with the word chocolate for heaven’s sake. Okay! Okay! I’ll admit it! I’m a bonafide, pocketbook-carrying, irrational flower “junkie!” So shoot me! But I’m really not extravagant about anything except my garden-not jewelry, not clothes, not shoes, not cars, nothing but my pretty flowers. And ya know, I don’t regret it for one second. I worked hard and for long hours for nearly 40 years; I’m in my 70’s, I’ve survived a stroke; so I guess I can live with an occasional lack of restraint. With what years I have left, I think I deserve my one and only extravagance perhaps because it is as Theroux said, “it is the closest I’ll ever come to being present at creation.” And oh how I would have loved to have been there and witnessed that!

The human soul is hungry for beauty;
we seek it everywhere – in landscape,
music, art, clothes, furniture,
gardening, companionship, love,
religion, and in ourselves.
When we experience the beautiful,
there is a sense of homecoming.
~John O’Donohue

The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the juniper equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches—no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. ~Ezekiel 8-9  ✝

765. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese

Chocolate says “I’m sorry”
so much better than words.
~Rachel Vincent

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I’ve have been absent this weekend and have not been able to read your posts or answer comments for days, and I’m so sorry. My granddaughter graduated from high school yesterday, and it was a very busy weekend preparing food for a party on Saturday and then the ceremony itself was yesterday. I’m also the one usually picked to take all the photos during such events so there were the 400+ photos to download, edit, and email to the interested parties. But I believe that by tomorrow, life should be back to my normal routines at least for the next two weeks. I wish I could give you some of the candy in this Paris shop because their chocolate is so much better than ours. Please accept my apology as I do care about each and everyone one of you, and I’ve hated not being able to be involved and in touch. Love, Natalie

May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~Psalm 115:15  ✝

263. Don’t grieve for me now. I am free. ~Author Unknown

This post is in loving memory of Debbie Jeanne Avila , a friend and fellow blogger.  Tonight I’ve chosen bits and pieces of some of Debbie’s poetry to honor her, and because she loved my photos of flowers, I’m including one with each excerpt.  Sweet Debbie you will not be forgotten, and I am comforted that for you to be absent here, means that you are now and forever in the presence of Jesus.  Till we meet again.  Love, Natalie

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I had forgotten what LIFE was all about,
Those dark chocolate nights dipped in indubitable doubts,
Wonderful wonderings if this was all there is,
And if it was, then, we had bitten envied bliss.

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as sad as a morning glory that has never met
her glory I am damp with seeds that have never met
the portent wise sunlight–
damp with grinding dreams at my hoof and
damper after they sodden cold with dawn’s
twilight–
nothing reverts or inverts, if all formulates into
winter’s beginning and continuance

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Help me with my un-perceived progress
I stand still, everything around me sweeping
Like a Kansas tornado.
So many
voices within, held down and pressed,
It scares me to hear such a composing
Of songs I alone know

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September vivifies the introspections of soul like
The glaciating mountains in silence-
Ruminating, finding their niches so to sleep and then
Shake at springs kissing–
It embers gently, suspiciously as if someone would
Snuff it out too soon–

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Miscreant as it may some times be with the unexpected
Heat and elongated sun-kissed troubling–
Days are slightly shorter for most living breathing ways,
As I turn down the lights,
Pick up Keats and Dickinson, Rumi and rosehips
For morning simmering decadence. (http://girlwiththepen1118.wordpress.com)

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“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  ~1 Corinthians 15:55  ✝