1392. He prayeth best, who loveth best all things great and small; for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are 100,000 or so species of insects 
native to the United States. More than 1/3 
of these have been found in Texas. 
Texas has more different kinds of 
insects than any other state. 
~From a Texas Gov’t. publication
found on the Internet

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There is simply never a shortage of “beasties” on Texas soil especially when the temperatures soar. “Things great and small,” lovable and loathsome, have been on the move in the water, in the air, and on the land. Some float, some flutter, some fly, some are fleet of foot, some feed on the earth’s grasses and some crawl, slither, or graze in them. Scripture tells us that the good Lord saw that all He made was good, but being a less than perfect mortal, I struggle with loving and seeing the good in “all things great and small.” The fact that spiders, snakes, and “skeeters” bite and can kill has always had a great deal to do with my disdain for earth’s not so charming and/or endearing creatures. However, when I became an avid gardener, I began realizing more and more the intentionality of all that God made. Working the soil helped me see the genius of the “string of life” that connects everything on earth together in a beneficial series of interdependencies. Creation, on a grander scale of course, is much like the human body–everything in it is connected and it all works together for the good of the whole. In light of that complete awareness, slowly but surely, I’m learning to be more tolerant of the earth’s less endearing creatures. Toiling under the sun in all the seasons has shown me that built into Creation’s tapestry are purpose and provisions for all that God made. That awareness, despite my difficulty in embracing all of the “beasties” who dwell here in Texas has engendered and enlarged my trust, love, and faith in the Lord’s plans and His purposes as well as an acceptance of all that He has made.

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How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. When You send your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth. -Psalm 104:24, 30  ✝

1381. May…the month when the foliage of herbs and trees is most freshly green, when buds ripened and blossoms appear in their fragrance and loveliness. ~Sir Thomas Malory

Well, spring sprang.
We’ve had our state of grace 
and
our little gift of sanctioned madness,
courtesy of Mother Nature.
~David Assael

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As oncoming summer’s blast furnace begins to heat up so do the colors in the garden. It has literally become a lively fiesta outside my doors and creatures, great and small, winged or afoot, are partaking of the feasts that have been laid before them on Creation’s table.

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In fact they’ve been so busy of late supping on the produce of May’s “potent blood” that I’ve only been able to capture two recent “critter” images with my camera. But I wouldn’t keep any of them from their tasks even if I could for what they’re doing not only satisfies their hunger but also mine, and it guarantees that this time next year there will be more.

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God’s designs are such ingenious plans! For example these pollinating creatures are so much smaller than we and their lives span such a brief period of time, but what power their tiny wings and feet have in the grand scheme of things! We, mortal humanity that is, think ourselves to be so mighty and yet mankind literally owes its very existence to what comes from the labors of these annual pollinating dances upon earth’s stage.

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And sadly too many lives play out solely in the technological bubbles of modern society and so are completely unaware of the miraculousness of such scenarios and the utter life-supporting significance of what goes on outside myopic, sterile, and godless environments.

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Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. ~Excerpted line from Jeremiah 8:7 ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie

1252. The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience. ~Henryk Skolimowski 

O Marvelous!
What new configuration will come next?
I am bewildered with multiplicity.
~William Carlos Williams

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Soil . . . scoop up a handful of the magic stuff.   Look at it closely. What wonders it holds as it lies there in your palm.  Tiny sharp grains of sand, little faggots of wood and leaf fiber, infinitely small round pieces of marble, fragments of shell, specks of black carbon, a section of vertebrae from some minute creature. And mingling with it all the dust of countless generations of plants and flowers, trees, animals and – yes – our own, age-long forgotten forebears, gardeners of long ago. Can this incredible composition be the common soil? ~Stuart Maddox Masters

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I went out first thing this morning to see if I might find something picture worthy and came across some rather extraordinary things. A garden is not just about flowers or vegetables or fruits or trees. It’s about the soil and creatures as well. Some might think what I found is strange, bordering on ugly or scary, but they are essential to the life of a garden.

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First I came upon the sedum at top starting to show color followed by a mystical passionflower not yet fully open. Then I found the two fruitings, above and below, of fungi in the soil. Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter. In fact they are the principal decomposers in ecological systems, and interestingly fungi are genetically more closely related to animals than plants. These two are strangely beautiful in a way, don’t your think?

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If you want to live and thrive,
let the spider run alive.
~American Quaker saying

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Next I found this huge spider, and although I’m not a fan of spiders, it was an awesome specimen sitting in the middle of an amazing web. I’d seen this same kind of spider in almost the same exact place two years ago, but this one is much bigger than the previous one. So I snapped my photos quickly and gave it a wide berth as I moved on. I was willing to let him run alive as the saying goes, just not after or on me.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. ~Isaiah 61:11  ✝

1205. Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name. ~Rabindranath Tagore

This time of the year is so terribly hot that I find myself grumbling morning, noon, and evening about the relentless, scorching rays of the sun, the same sun that in winter is quite a welcome presence! So here’s to the beautiful sun, bearer of light and life, and the sunflower that mimics its golden glory.

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Beautiful Sun! with thy golden rays,
To God, the wise Creator, be all praise;
For thou nourisheth all the creation,
Wherever there is found to be animation.

Without thy heat we could not live,
Then praise to God we ought to give;
For thou makest the fruits and provisions to grow,
To nourish all creatures on earth below.

Thou makest the birds to sing on the tree,
Also by meadow, mountain, and lea;
And the lark high poised up in air,
Caroling its little song with its heart free from care.

While the bee from flower to flower does roam
To gather honey, and carry it home;
While it hums its little song in the beautiful sunshine,
And seemingly to thank the Creator divine —

For the honey it hath gathered during the day,
In the merry growing months of the year
When the flowers are in full bloom,
Also the sweet honeysuckle and the broom.

How beautiful thy appearance while setting in the west,
Whilst encircled with red and azure, ’tis then thou look’st best!
Then let us all thank God for thy golden light
In our prayers every morning and night!
~Edited poem by Max Plowman

…“May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield…” ~Excerpted lines from Deuteronomy 33:13-14  ✝

**Photo taken by me in my yard

1162. Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. ~Plato

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What you encounter, recognize, or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach. Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation. When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace. ~John O’Donohue

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By having a reverence for life,
we enter into a spiritual
relationslip with the world.
By practicing reverence for life
we become good, deep, and alive.
~Albert Schweitzer

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Man’s only true happiness is
to live in hope of something to be won by him,
to reverence something to be worshipped by him,
and to love something to be cherished by him, forever.
~John Ruskin

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Gratitude bestows reverence,
allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe that
change forever how we experience life and the world.
~John Milton

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Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe… ~Hebrews 12:28 ✝

**Images found on Pinterest; collages by Natalie

1151. Cherish sunsets, wild creatures and wild places. Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth. ~Stewart Udall

Life has loveliness to sell,
all beautiful and splendid things,
blue waves whitened on a cliff,
soaring fire that sways and sings,
and children’s faces looking up,
holding wonder like a cup.
~Sara Teasdale

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Wowed! When was the last time you were wowed, really, really wowed? I love being wowed! I’ve always loved being wowed! And for awhile after becoming a grown up, I spent some hard years when I wasn’t wowed by much of anything! I was frequently overwhelmed but not wowed! Then I started a garden and now seldom does a day go by that I’m not wowed by something. And I know I’m an easy mark because I adore flowers and birds and butterflies and bees and sunsets and rain and oceans and such. Nevertheless, easy mark or not, I still maintain that the Lord has made incredible things and that they are meant to wow us! So don’t just look at my flowers; notice the colors, look at the shapes, and the amazing details like the pistils and the anthers.

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Beauty is nature’s brag, and must be shown
in courts, 
at feasts, and high solemnities,
where most 
may wonder at the workmanship.
~John Milton

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He who can no longer pause to wonder
and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead;
his eyes are closed.
~Albert Einstein

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The point is that when I see a sunset
or a waterfall or something,
for a split second it’s so great,
because for a little bit I’m out of my brain,
and it’s got nothing to do with me.
I’m not trying to figure it out,
you know what I mean?
And I wonder if I can somehow find
a way to maintain that mind stillness.
~Chris Evans

Only those who look with the eyes of children
can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.
~Eberhard Arnold

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He(God) performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~Job 5:9  ✝

**All images taken recently by me in my yard.

943. If you wish to know the Creator, come to know His creatures. ~Columbanus, Medieval Irish Monk

Out of the waters of God’s life
come the creatures of earth, sea, and sky.
With the birth of the creatures on the fifth day
there is the emergence of seeing, hearing,
smelling, tasting, and touching.
~J. Philip Newell

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One of the keys to listening needs to be simply an appreciative attentiveness to God’s creatures. The Book of Job says, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” And to look to the animal world is not to look away from God; instead, it’s a way to look at a showing forth of the mystery of God. For it reveals something of the way of God’s seeing and sensing, and one can see as well that in Creation’s mysteries is part of the Christ mystery.

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I’ve seen animals, such as the bird in the photo above, who seem to be bowing before the Creator in gratitude for life, for the day, for His continuing Presence here. There is also the unbroken song of the creatures. And in Revelation John envisaged an unending song of praise being sung by all that swims and flies and has motion. He said every creature on earth here below and in the ocean beneath and in the air above was giving glory to God, singing Holy, Holy, Holy. ~Both paragraphs contain directly quoted, paraphrased, and/or adapted random excerpts from THE BOOK OF CREATION by J. Philip Newell

Consider first the Canada Goose,
brown body, whitish breast
black head, long black neck…
Then there’s the Barnacle Goose…
flight note
a rapidly repeated gnuk
gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk
(like an ecstatic Eskimo)…
The snow goose
has a pure white plumage
with black-tipped wings…
In Europe you might take her for a swan
or maybe a gannet
till she lets you know abruptly
she’s all goose
so
there they go
through the wind, the rain, the snow
wild spirits knowing
what they know
~Kenneth White

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” ~Job 12:7-10  ✝

**Mike Bizeau posted the great photo of a bull elk on his blog, and I found the image of the bird with its head bowed on Pinterest