470. The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Christianity sees plants and flowers as created by God
to show forth and share with humans
the divine goodness, beauty and truth – the purpose of all Creation.
In this flowers may be enjoyed simply and directly in themselves
as showing forth God’s goodness and beauty,
or more fully, as archetypes, signatures, symbols,
and bearers of legends, mirroring the revealed articles
of Christian faith – thereby serving as means
for their teaching, recollection, contemplation and celebration.
~John S. Stokes, Jr.

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Mary’s Gold they were called and the “golden gifts” of Calendula were offerings to the Virgin Mary by the poor who had not actual gold to give her. In the late Middle Ages some of the churches started designing actual gardens devoted entirely to Mother Mary. Marigolds and other flowers associated with her were planted in the Marian Gardens. Those flowers represented significant events in Mary’s life as well as her virtues, and the purpose of the gardens was to provide a place for worshippers to meditate and pray. All gardens or any flowery place for that matter seem to me to be an excellent setting for prayer, praise, and contemplation. So with my little photographic collage of summery yellow flowers, I’m offering up a piece of written text by John O’Donohue as a Celt’s food for thought this week.

May you recognize in your life, the presence, power and light of your soul. May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe. May you have respect for your own individuality and difference. May your realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a destiny here, that behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. ~Psalm 119:15   ✝

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. With all Creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything, and I will adore you!”(From Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean)

 

464. How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.
~Rumi

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Sometimes reaching a height of 9 feet they tower above all else in a garden, and wherever they grow, their flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. They are the lovely hollyhocks, flowering plants of such antiquity that they were found at a neanderthal burial site. Long after the neanderthal era the hollyhock was grown in religious gardens around churches and monasteries, and seeds of the hollyhock were included in the cargo on early ships to the Americas. Since then they have stood as silent sentries over many a garden fair, and their chalice-like blossoms, when facing upward, have captured and held countless dollops of daylight while captivating mortals with their winsome ways. Now the tall, showy hollyhock, born of the miraculous, is found in gardens all over the world. Miracles? Yes, the first miracle is that all the data needed to replicate this lovely giant and its flowers is stored in something as small as one of my freckles. The second miracle is that for thousands and thousands and thousands of years its small seeds have not perished nor failed in their purpose. The third miracle is that the Lord ordained pollinators along with the sun, soil, and water, to be faithful guarantors of the hollyhock’s lifeline. How could anything be more amazing than that God not only created all that is and devised ingenious ways for everything He made to be replenished, but that he also valued the importance of beauty as well as purpose.

Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. ~Luke 12:23    ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! May I dwell in Your holy presence and praise Your name for all that you have given and done.

**Images via Pinterest

245. Novelty is an essential attribute of the beautiful. ~Benjamin Disraeli

What was any art but a mould
in which to imprison for a moment
the shining elusive element
which is life itself.
~Willa Cather

The foliate head and the Green Man are sculptures or drawings in which almost always a man’s face is surrounded by or made from leaves; it is a face that merges nature with humanity.

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The Green Man is “a mythic figure that appears in art and legend throughout the centuries and independently in diverse cultures.”  Purportedly the images of these leafy men represent life irrepressible.

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Countless numbers of the leafy faces can be seen on medieval castles, abbeys, and churches.  In fact it was the Europeans who are said to have spread the Green Man’s image and lore to the parts of the world they colonized.

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For some the Green Man’s image symbolized the triumph of green life over death and winter.  Others considered him the protector of nature; parallels have even been drawn between the Green Man and Jesus Christ.

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I see the foliate face as a mould, as Cather suggests, in which can be seen the artistic quintessence of vegetative and human life.  And as Disraeli proposes, it is the novelty of its beauty, unconventional as it may be, that is most appealing.  On days when I can’t or don’t get out into my garden, I see my semi-human, foliate-faced “friend” on the ground at the end of the stone path out my back door.  He is a reminder of the strong connection I feel to the natural world and God, its holy Maker. His eyes seem to peer longingly from behind his verdant leafiness in the same way I perceive that the Lord peers down at the world wanting to know, protect, and love His children.  His countenance evokes thoughts of man’s need to create as the made-in-the-image-heir of a creative God, of man’s desire to feel connected to the whole of Creation, and of man’s hope that new seasons will arise again and again as promised.  The man in the stone may seem to be locked in perpetual silence, but he speaks to me and I often talk to him.

…the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  ~Numbers 6:25-26  ✝