1364. The force of Spring – mysterious, fecund, powerful beyond measure. ~Michael Garofalo

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This morning I used a quote that talked of magic, and I was quickly reminded that Scripture warns us about the guiles of the dark arts. But if one consults a dictionary, he/she will find the definition which was my intent in using the word: magic (n.) a mysterious quality of enchantment; (adj.) mysteriously enchanting. For you see, Creation and the mystery of its Maker, so often enchant me with a reverent sense of awe and wonder especially when as if by magic Spring brings amazing arrays of beauty and splendor out of what once appeared to be stark nothingness. Here are some samples of the wondrous “magic” I found in my yard on this first day of spring.

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The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven—
All’s right with the world!
~Robert Browning

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How can I stand on the ground
every day and not feel its power?
How can I live my life stepping
on this stuff and not wonder at it?
~William Bryant Logan

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A garden is the mirror of the mind.
It is a place of life, a mystery of green,
moving to the pulse of the year,
and pressing on and pausing the whole
to its own inherent rhythms.
~Henry Beston

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Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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O God, from your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
You are the life-flow of creation’s rivers,
the sap of blood in our veins,
earth’s fecundity, the fruiting of trees, creatures’ birthing,
the conception of new thought, desire’s origin.
All of these are of you, O God, and I am of you.
~J. Philip Newell

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. ~Song of Songs 2:11-12   ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1363. It’s a greenin’ and a colorin’ up as old man Winter slowly goes back from whence he came…

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time-
a day to begin transforming
winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.
-Adrienne Cook

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As it is now, the last few days of winter are looking pretty magical themselves, if you ask me. Color has returned to the earth in places and the grass is greening, and so St. Patrick’s Day has indeed brought enchantment, brilliant and splendid. And where there are but few flowers yet, there is the promise of more of them. And where there are no fruits yet, there is the promise of them. And where there is not food from crops yet, there is the promise of such. Relying on the faithfulness of God’s promises, today and always, we can ask, as did St. Patrick:

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen.
-St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland.

I pray all of you have a very blessed weekend. and that pray wherever there are clouds of darkness in your life, an awareness of the reliability of all God’s promises produces more than enough light to shoo them away.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it. ~Numbers 23:19-20  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1346. Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. ~Heinrich Heine

Flowers always make people
better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food
and medicine to the mind.
~Luther Burbank

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I mentioned in a post recently that every Sunday when we go to the grocery store to do our shopping, I buy flowers to put on my desk. And this week instead of cut flowers, I found a springtime mini bulb garden that had been planted in a pot. It was filled with tulips, crocus, dutch iris, hyacinth, and the tiniest little golden daffodils. The hyacinth in the photo above was just opening when I bought the potted garden, and for days now as it opened further I’ve enjoyed it’s heavenly perfume.And as the week has progressed, the crocus has opened as have the tulips and the iris. Then this morning, the last thing to push out of its papery sheaths were the daffodils, and that’s when squeals of delight could be heard far and wide. What absolute joy and great fun can come from the simplest of things! I’ve heard it said that simple minds have simple pleasures, and if that implies that I’m a simple-minded simpleton then so be it. For as the temperature outside plummets below the freezing mark again tonight, the fact that springtime is happening right here next to computer is just way, way too much fun, and simple as that may be, it brings me more than enough immeasurable joy to care not what others may think of me.

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Some women feel the need to act
like they’re never scared, needy or hurt;
like they’ve been hardened by the world.
I think that’s dishonest.
It’s ok to feel delicate sometimes.
Real beauty is in the fragility of one’s petals.
A rose that never wilts isn’t a rose at all.
~Edited quote by Crystal Woods

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. ~Proverbs 27:9  ✝

**All photos were taken by me; I took them outside however instead of where they sit by my computer because I don’t like the way a flash alters the colors of flowers.

1334. Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Willis Peterson said, “A click of the shutter, a crank of the film, and you’ve caught forever a significant bit of life,” and I could not agree more. But to each of us the “significant bit of life” we choose to capture photographically may be vastly different. For me it is the natural world in general, and my garden of flowers in particular. So when winter begins to weigh heavily on me, I turn to my archives to find “significant bits” from previous years to lift off the weight of lackluster winter. While I share Ehrmann’s prayer with you, I decided I’d share some of my treasured “bits.”

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Let me do my work each day;
and if the darkened hours
of despair overcome me, may
I not forget the strength
that comforted me in the
desolation of other times.

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May I still remember the bright
hours that found me walking
over the silent hills of my
childhood, or dreaming on
the margin of a quiet river,
when a light glowed within me,
and I promised my early God
to have courage amid the
tempests of the changing years.

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Spare me from bitterness
and from the sharp passions of
unguarded moments. May
I not forget that poverty and
riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not,
may my thoughts and actions
be such as shall keep me
friendly with myself.

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Lift up my eyes
from the earth, and let me not
forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others
lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of
the world, but walk calmly
in my path.

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Give me a few friends
who will love me for what
I am; and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope.

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And though age and infirmity
overtake me, and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams,
teach me still to be thankful
for life, and for time’s olden
memories that are good and
sweet; and may the evening’s
twilight find me gentle still.
~Max Ehrmann

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Let us not depreciate Earth. The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world. ~Willa Cather

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By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:8  ✝

1328. It is an old story, this irresistible and ceaseless onflow of life and time… ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.
~William Blake

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Dead and brown is all that once was verdant and full of life. And again today a north wind blew to scatter more of autumn’s splendrous, leafy remains. Willy nilly the leaves whirled about and over the ground as if they were happy children chasing one another. Though a smattering of leaves yet dons a tree or two, for the most part the yard is a graveyard of clattering skeletons, desiccated leaves and withered flowers, bare soil and beige sod. Too, the beating heart of Creation’s life has grown ever so faint, but nonetheless it is discernible to the listening, longing ear. All the while beneath the surface, there’s an entirely different story evolving. For it is there that miraculous, even magical, proceedings are taking place and moving to the rhythm of winter’s muted heartbeat. And as they advance, they gather strength from their sacred sources, mother nature and Father God. So carry on tiny embryos of earth’s womb; I shall wait patiently and not lose heart nor faith while surrounded by this death and decay for I trust and know you will rise in the Spring and once more thrill me beyond the ability to speak so that only squeals of joy will fill the space herein between heaven and earth.

How can those who do not garden,
who have no lot in the great fraternity
of those who watch the changing year
as it affects the earth and its growth,
how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?
~Francis King

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” ~Genesis 8:22  ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1327. I must have flowers, always, and always. ~Claude Monet

Flowers seem intended for the
solace of ordinary humanity.
~John Ruskin

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Last weekend one of my grandsons went with me to do our grocery shopping. When I told him to stop a minute at the floral department, he asked if I bought flowers every week, and I replied with a boisterous “yes.” That made him chuckle at first; then he became curious and asked me why. I replied with Monet’s exact declaration above. Since then I’ve been contemplating why I have that compelling need but have been able to come up little more than that they are beautiful, they cheer me up, and they are fun to replicate with a camera or on a canvas. Since I’m not much of an artist however, a camera and editing programs are much more able to help me create good images than those I try to achieve with paints or pens. Not only that, because I’m one of those people who has a persistent and irresistible urge to find beauty and be creative, even the tiniest of flowers can satisfy both those needs.

Passions, who can say from whence they come
or why, but I for one am glad there’s solace,
comfort, and joy to be found in them, for ‘tis they
that bringeth the light needed to make it through
the dark nights of my soul, and it’s evident that the
Lord of heaven and earth whom I adore and seek
finds them to be so as well for one learns much of
Him and His heart in the Genesis account of Creation.

There is no atom in earth but is alive and astir in the all-penetrating splendor of God. From the infinitesimal to the infinite, everything is striving to express the thought of His Presence with which it overflows. ~Lucy Larcom

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  ✝

**Photo taken by Natalie and the special effects and border were done by her on iPiccy

1316. So much has been given to me I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied. ~Helen Keller

For three things I thank God every day of my life:
thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works;
deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith;
deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to–
a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.
~Helen Keller

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Oh autumn, how late you came, but how glorious you have been! Today, however, winter’s first cold, cold breath has blown hard across the garden and these flowery “babies” I found today will perish in the frigid hours before dawn’s first light. In gratitude for their coming I shall like Helen and the author of the poem below go to sleep tonight thanking God that they came at all.

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Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.

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Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.

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Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat, a new poem, my library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.

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And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and
I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
~Carrie Newcomer

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7  ✝

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**This tiny little sunflower came up from a fallen seed that had dropped down out of the bird feeder. I’ve been watching to see if it would bloom before winter nipped it in the bud and sure enough it did. The photos are not my best effort this time, but it was too darned cold to stand out in that cold north wind for long.