737. Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. ~Rumi

Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of anger and resentment?
Did I forgive? Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit
of love that I sow now
bears many fruits, here in this world
and in the life to come.
~Henri Nouwen

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Give birth and life to your faith and dreams.
Let die all doubt and fear.
Plant seeds of hope.
Uproot all intolerance.

Kill off pridefulness.
Speak words of healing.
Tear down walls of indifference.
Build up those who are downtrodden.

Weep with compassion for those less fortunate.
Laugh long and often.
Mourn in your own way but not without hope.
Dance with gusto and sometimes in the rain.

Scatter stones that wall in and isolate mercy.
Gather stones in order to build bridges instead.
Embrace all living creatures.
Refrain from embracing ignorance and extravagance.

Search for your true self.
Give up on what the world tells you should be.
Keep your focus on the still, small voice inside.
Throw away words spoken in anger, resentment, and envy.

Tear away from those bent on destruction.
Mend broken relationships with forgiveness.
Be silent and listen to your heart’s sacred and sound goodness.
Speak words of comfort and concern and love.

Love the Lord with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul.
Hate injustice and prejudice.
War not with others nor yourself.
Pray for wisdom and peace.

1     There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens: 

2      a time to be born and a time to die,
    
        a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3      a time to kill and a time to heal,
    
        a time to tear down and a time to build,

4      a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    
        a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5      a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    
        a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6      a time to search and a time to give up,
    
        a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7      a time to tear and a time to mend,
   
        a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8      a time to love and a time to hate,
  
        a time for war and a time for peace.

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

685. Man is a knot into which relationships are tied. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Someone to tell it to
is one of the fundamental
needs of human beings.
~Miles Franklin

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Have you ever pondered why we, any of us, blog? Or write books? Or pen poetry? Or compose music? Or draw? Or paint? I have and I think the quote above by Miles Franklin hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. We, who pour out our lives or thoughts or passions or joys or hurts or whatever in some way, do in fact appear to have some compelling and fundamental need to do so. Emily Dickinson added another aspect to this idea when she described it, “as a shelter to speak” to some trusted other in her life. Like her, many of us, I believe, find not only great comfort but also a kind of self-soothing safety when we, individually or collectively, find ways to express ourselves to those we come to trust and admire. This is best described by the Swedish proverb that says a “shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” In addition, I find something very cathartic and cleansing about “spilling my guts” to an “art or soul” mate given me by the Lord; they are the ones who give me the wings and courage to be all that He created me to be.

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all out, just as they are,
chaff and grain together
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and
with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17   ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

665. Come, gentle Spring! Ethereal Mildness! Come! ~James Thomson

Down, down, down and drip, drip, drip
falls the gray, gray, grayness of yet another rainy day.
And outside my feet go squish, squish, squish
from the rain and snow and rain and snow and rain,
but oh heavens no, no, no you won’t find me a fussin’
because now, my friends, a grow, grow, growin’
we’ll find the sweet green, green, greening things
of advancing, birthing, sprouting spring.
~Natalie Scarberry

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O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.

O the fluttering and the pattering of those green things growing!
How they talk each to each, when none of us are knowing;
In the wonderful white of the weird moonlight
Or the dim dreamy dawn when the cocks are crowing.



I love, I love them so – my green things growing!
And I think that they love me, without false showing;
For by many a tender touch, they comfort me so much,
With the soft mute comfort of green things growing.



And in the rich store of their blossoms glowing
Ten for one I take they’re on me bestowing:
Oh, I should like to see, if God’s will it may be,
Many, many a summer of my green things growing!

But if I must be gathered for the angel’s sowing,
Sleep out of sight awhile, like the green things growing,
Though dust to dust return, I think I’ll scarcely mourn,
If I may change into green things growing.
~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Ephesians 5:19b-20   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

645. And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, new created. ~D. H. Lawrence

In slumber we fall into the deep, silent waters of consciousness, and then something, somewhere beneath the surface stirs us back to wakefulness. The same thing is happening now in my slumbering, wintry garden. A divine force or spark is stirring life back into seemingly lifelessness.

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A spark.  A flame.  A fire. A seed.  A plant.  A flower.  An egg.  An embryo.  A life. What is it that stirs matter and spirit?  What is it that stirs us?  What moves us?  What is it that makes life taste bitter or sweet upon the tongue?  What things do we feel that can’t quite be put into words?

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The following poem was written by Wallace Stevens. In it, his is the voice of questioning meant to refute religion/Christianity, and yet his images are the kinds of things that stir me in the opposite direction by rousing and impassioning my faith and belief in Christ. So it seems to me that Stevens, even in his attempt at denial, was himself somehow stirred by things in nature not wholly of this world, And I also have to wonder what exactly he thinks a soul is? Is not the soul that which connects mortal man to the Holy One who made us? Isn’t it the piece of God in us?

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Sunday Morning

What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul.
~Wallace Stevens

For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. ~Job 33:14-16   ✝

509. How we treat the vulnerable is how we define ourselves as a species. ~Russell Brand

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength –
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more!

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It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all –
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Matthew Arnold

Echoes, echoes of the past–voices, so many familiar voices gone, now silenced by the closing of their life’s doors–memories, memories mingling with the present, all bringing the dark clouds that move in across her brain where the fury of raging storms begin on unfamiliar shores. The echoes, the voices, and the memories become scrambled in her dementia so that things and people once cherished create anxiety, anguish, and at times torment. Her mind, once sharp and clear, is now befuddled as she becomes more and more lost inside herself and her fears. Her family raised, her labors done, there is nothing left now but the lonely silence of her worsening deafness and the rapid waning of her vision. Soon she will be ever so far away from me, the one in whose womb my life began. Will she then still know my face and the feel of my touch? Will the skies ever again clear in her head and cast her weary, but back on familiar shores? Or has she begun the final journey of her dreaded aloneness? Please Lord, be with my mother as she struggles to navigate these dark passages of uncharted waters. Bring her comfort and peace, and if not mine, then let her recognize Your touch and know Your face. Let the child she has again become blindly trust as she once did that all is well with her soul and that You will care for her always. And let Your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind that’s becoming so profoundly confused, wounded, and betrayed by her aged, earthly body.

One of my followers commented yesterday on my memory post about the sadness of dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s, and I know that others of you are caring for elderly parents whose memories are failing. In those situations there are two or more people affected by the circumstances; both the aged and their caregiver(s) are profoundly impacted by this passage. So I decided to share the above with all of you.  It is something I wrote in my journal during a long, hard night when I was caring for my 92-year-old mother before she passed away.

 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝

481. Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible. ~Eugène Ionesco

Even the poppy knows to bow its head
in praise before rising to the wonderment of day!

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Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
~Mary Oliver

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?” ~Job 11:7-8    ✝

428. Summer looks out from her brazen tower, through the flashing bars of July. ~Francis Thompson

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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The round, golden face of the great sun began flooding our prairie with its wide showers during June’s infancy. The siege steadily intensified until it broke like a fever a few days ago and our temps fell below the century mark. Then with only a fortnight left in July, clouds moved in, thunder rolled, lightning flashed, and blessed rain fell. The showers didn’t last long, but the landscape soaked up what there was of the precious liquid and things seemed discernibly greener within minutes. The next day the thunder grumbled shortly after daybreak, and following close on its heels rain began to fall off and on. For the first time in months the fierce summer sun has been shrouded all day in the soft grayness of this drippy day. There were no high winds nor hard-driving downpours, just moments here and there of a light rain to drizzle.

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Peace was prevalent inside the house and out all day long, and rest became the order of the day. Though there were household chores that needed to be done, I found myself guiltlessly sitting and staring at the grass and flower beds out my big patio window. Even the yard cats remained listlessly curled up in a corner of the porch and only meowed twice for food. They were apparently as content as I to do next to nothing. Few birds moved around the yard while it was raining, and the ones that did venture out were much less lively than usual.

DSC_0036Thankfully, after it was all said and done, the temperature climbed only into the high 70’s. That level of coolness won’t last, but as long as it does the “blue and glowing days” of summer will be significantly more tolerable hereabouts. So I praise God “for the wisdom that fashioned the universe” and that our misery has again been tempered by His mercy.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. . . ~2 Corinthians 1:3   ✝

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.

427. Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear, Ponca Native American Chief

Happiness flutters in the air
whilst we rest among
the breaths of nature.
~Kelly Sheaffer

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The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ~Anne Frank

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Nature is man’s teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. ~Alfred Billings Street

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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20   ✝

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.

424. Holy Spirit–You’re the Live in being alive, the Be in every creature’s being, the Breathe in every breath on earth. ~St. Hildegard von Bingen

We praise You for these gifts,
Light-giver,
Sound of joy,
Wonder of being alive,
Hope of every person,
and our strongest Good.
~St. Hildegard von Bingen

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purpleliciousness
color of robe given Christ
in passion’s demand
~Natalie Scarberry

The flower in my photograph is a passion flower (passiflora incarnata.) Besides being breathtakingly beautiful there was a time long ago when Catholic missionaries connected certain aspects of the passion flower with Christian beliefs. To them the ten petals of the flower represented the ten apostles in Christianity excluding St. Peter and Judas. The vines of the plant symbolized the whips that were used during the flagellation of Christ. One of the major characteristics is the hundreds of filaments on the flower that symbolized the Crown of Thorns. The five anthers were associated with the five sacred wounds of Christ. The flower contains three stigmas that reflected the three nails that were used for Christ’s hands and feet during his Crucifixion. There is a floral component that resembles a chalice-like ovary that has been supposed to symbolize the Holy Grail. The religious symbolism and associations that had been brought to attention once gave the missionaries faith and comfort for their efforts in spreading Christianity to the indigenous cultures of South America. The Jesuit Missionaries transported color drawings and dried versions of the plant back to their country where a Spanish herbalist named Nicolas Monardes was the first to document the plant and write about the qualities of the flower, indicating that it was a powerful plant and that it carried a symbolic relationship with Christianity.

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe. ~John 19:2   ✝

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.

 

318. Water is the driver of nature. ~Leonardo da Vinci

Be praised, My Lord,
through Sister Water;
she is very useful,
and humble,
and precious,
and pure.
~St. Francis of Assisi

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The sight of water, be it in a pond, a river, the sea, a fountain, or even a drop from a spigot touches something deep in “the temple of my inner being.” I love to sit quietly and watch water fall or splash or ripple or break like the waves on a seashore. And if I peer down long enough into the mysterious depths of a body of water, my mind conjures up images of earth’s origins, and subsequently the Garden of Eden comes alive in my soul’s eye. Even gauzy reflections which quiver and quake in a puddle or body of water seem to possess a captivating life, a compelling story, a gripping sanctity of their own.

Although I know not where it rests in the human psyche, I believe somewhere therein mortals recognize familiar things not necessarily of this world, things they appear to know without human tutelage or logic’s reason. In the same way a child instinctively recognizes its biological mother even after the umbilical cord is severed, I believe we, who are temporarily separated from the Holy Source of our being, retain a sense of the Father’s parenting presence because we belong to the Lord and are inextricably a part of Him. It could be that’s why earth and its waters not only call to me but also comfort me.

…by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. ~2 Peter 3:5  ✝

Thank you, Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us!

**Photo via Pinterest