1030. What was that? Did you see it? There, there it goes again! Look! It can’t have disappeared.

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In the half light of dawn a quick flash of red had been darting back and forth just beyond the blue gazing ball. Whoosh! There is was again! Surely you saw it that time. No? Ohhhhhh, but I did! Even from 30 yards away the vibrant color and black mask of a male cardinal is unmistakable. Fully awake and focused now I could clearly see what the beautiful flash was, and yet sadly I had not obeyed the call earlier to get up and find my camera. After weeks of early wake ups, I just couldn’t make myself get up out of my chair; I was being lulled into a kind of stupor by the gray, quietude of the early January morn. Then I remembered the last line in Kalidasa’s Sanskrit poem, “The Salutation to the the Dawn. “Look well therefore to this day,” he said. So with a better late than never resolve, I started trying to untangle myself from a blanket and get up from my chair when all of a sudden the amazing crimson creature landed not ten feet away from me on the other side of my patio door. Lots of cardinals live in and around our yard, but until today none of them had come this close to the house. What a brave, cheeky guy was this one who had found and perched itself atop the blackberry vine I’d purchased last week. Though he tarried there a while, I was afraid to move for fear I’d shoo it away. So I eased back down in my chair, watching in awe and admiration until it flew off. Afterwards, I did go grab my camera in case the beauty returned again. Alas, however, it did not. Instead now it was only flying back and forth, along with its mate, from the feeders to the top of my rose arch outside Natalieworld

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Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. ~1 Peter 1:13 ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

 

593. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. ~Adlai Stevenson

Prowling his own quiet backyard
or asleep by the fire,
he (a cat) is only a whisker
away from the wilds.
~Jean Burden

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Twas three days after Christmas, and all through the yards
Nothing was stirring, not even wind-blown papery discards;
The feeders were hung by the greenhouse with care,
In hopes the red cardinals soon would be there;
And seedlings were nestled snug in leafy beds,
While thoughts of springtime danced in my head;
The squirrels in their nests and I in my chair,
Lay resting ourselves from yesterday’s fare,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
And raised the bamboo curtain and tied up its sash.
The lowering gray clouds of a cold winter’s day
Had earlier shrouded the land in garments of gray.
Now in the sun what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a feral feline running a path both straight and clear.
With a blue jay held loosely in her clenched jaw awry
The proud huntress lost her grip and away it did fly
Leaving her to wonder
Why her incursion was put asunder.
~A parody of Clement’s
Twas the Night Before Christmas 

…a time to weep and a time to laugh… ~Ecclesiastes 3:4a   ✝

I was laughing so hard after what I’d seen, I couldn’t resist the urge for some playfulness and thus wrote the parody above.  The cat, however, was not amused at all by what had happened.

**Image via Pinterest

259. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. ~From THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for someone.  ~Excerpted from THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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My first move of the day is from the bed to my recliner so I can sit a while and enjoy whatever is going on out in the yard.  I’ve still not seen any robins, but as I kept watching the Cardinals come today to my feeders, their flashes of red were enough to bring thoughts of Burnett’s novel, The SECRET GARDEN. Her inspirational tale of transformation and empowerment for two children with very dim outlooks and prospects touches my heart on several different levels.  When Mary finds the key to the secret garden, the “magical” powers of transformation come within her reach, and eventually she and Colin are “saved” and offered the prospects of present and future goodness and happiness.  I didn’t begin gardening until much later in life than they, but my discovery of the healing power inherent in all living things and God’s abiding presence in Creation was a pivotal moment of transformation in my life as well.  So I decided to post some lines from the novel tonight along with photographs (via Pinterest) in hopes of relaying the Divine’s “magic” that captured Mary, Colin, and me.

“Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off and they are nearly always doing it.”

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“…the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs.”

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“Never thee stop believin’ in th’ Big Good Thing an’ knowin’ th’ world’s full of it – and call it what tha’ likes. Tha’ wert singin’ to it when I come into t’ garden.”

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“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.”

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“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”

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“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow.”

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The Lord is my strength and my might, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  ~Exodus 15:2  ✝

213. Hope is the extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them. ~Vincent McNabb

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem…
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn hymn.
~Mary Weston Fordham

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With lows in the teens and 20’s, the few things that had been hanging on have now perished along with their joyous songs of life.  In their place after last week’s arctic blast more and more strains of “nature’s solemn hymn” can be heard.  All is not lost, however.  The change of melodies is a part of God’s grand design, and I find strength and hope in watching His plan play out each year.  In fact on days when I feel really out of sorts, I’ve learned to go outside and find something to do even if I have to bundle up to accomplish it.  It might be nothing more than refilling the bird feeders and making sure all the overwintering wildlife have water, but the time out there steadies my inner compass again.  Feeling earth’s heartbeat and subsequently getting in step with its rhythms, also quells any sense of hopelessness brought on by the trials of life and the ongoing reports of a world torn by conflict and chaos.  It’s like when I first felt my child move in my womb.  I knew the sensation which felt like the wings of a butterfly barely grazing my uterus was the unmistakable touch of something sacred and right stirring inside me.  The Lord’s movement in my inner life is much the same.  It may be an ever so slight brush against my soul, but I know I’ve been touched by His loving Presence and am being held firmly in the arms of His grace regardless of what transpires with men gone mad.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.  ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

209. Bad weather always looks worse through a window. ~Author Unknown

Spooky wild and gusty;
swirling dervishes of rattling leaves race by,
fleeing the wildflung deadwood
that cracks and thumps behind.
~Dave Beard

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White, the world is still white, very white and very frozen!  And the only movements I see out my window this morning are leaves fluttering to the ground and birds coming to the feeders for breakfast and the bird baths for water.  Sadly all the birdbaths are so frozen that no matter how hard they peck at the ice, there’s no water beneath it to be had.  So after putting in enough chair time to be fully awake, I braved the cold and took them a bowl of water.  As I inched along on the frozen ground, I noticed that some of the fallen leaves from the red oak were striking lovely poses wherever they’d fallen.  One of them had even lodged itself quite prettily inside a large ceramic pot I’d emptied of its greenhouse-bound contents.  Once back inside after my errand of mercy and a few snaps of the camera, I heard on the news that there was a 30% chance of more sleet today and that the temperature would remain well under the freezing mark.  It really didn’t feel all that bad while I was out, but it seems we are in for another forced stay-at-home day.  I won’t complain though for like the birds I have much for which to be thankful.  The birds too have warmth and safety?  Indeed they do, for the ones who are cavity nesters, I’ve put in place plenty of birdhouses around the yard and for the others several kinds of evergreens have been planted.  If God stewards and provides for me, and he does so well, how can I not in turn steward and provide for all that He has given me?

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!  ~Romans 5:17  ✝