1408. The groves were God’s first temples. ~William Cullen Bryant

There is always Music amongst
the trees in the Garden, but our hearts
must be very quiet to hear it.
~Minnie Aumonier

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Who could have ever imagined that dying things would perish in such  beauty, that what once was vibrant and green and full of life and promise, would pass into a second state of glory filled with purpose. For this not the end of these dying beauties but the beginning of what will guarantee the return of the green tree and the flowers and the birds and the bees and on and on it goes. For like the food the green fruit tree puts upon our table, so does the dying leaf and bits of bark feed the soil beneath the trees’ canopies as well as the life that shelters beneath the warmth of autumn’s fallen debris. Autumn is simply the next step in the dance of life’s circling seasons.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death…

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is….That is happiness.” ~Author Unknown

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~Psalm 96:12 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1407. How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

Now we enter the ancient wood.
In what wild forms the gnarled
and mossy boughs are twisted,
what a sensation of sacred repose.
~Henry James Slack

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sanctuary (noun)
1. a place of refuge or safety
2. a nature reserve
3, a holy place; a temple; a church

In ancient cultures, people worshipped the Lord in groves of trees and forests. Is it any wonder? There are churches in this country that were built with glass walls and ceilings in wooded areas. What better sanctuary could there be than under the canopy of trees and the heavens above?

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.” ~Author Unknown

The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. ~Ezekiel 31:4 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1317. When I am among the trees, they give off such hints of gladness. ~Excerpted and combined lines from a poem by Mary Oliver

Autumn is the American season.The leaves
take fire on the trees and hang there flaming.
~Excerpted and combined lines
by Archibald MacLeish

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MacLeish is right; the leaves hang in varying shades of flaming red and orange and yellow. And I’m happy to report that it seems the weather guys were a tad overly zealous about the forecast last night. Although it did freeze, the temperature did not fall far enough below freezing to vanquish autumn’s glory after all. Now tonight may be a different story. But we’ll see. My grandfather used to say that anyone who tried to predict the weather in Texas was either a fool or a jackass because ya just never know for sure what the weather’s gonna do in the Lone Star State. However since NOAA is predicting temps in the low 20’s tonight and just in case they’re right this time, I went out today and took one last photographic look at autumn’s splendor, not only that which aflame hangs but also that which ultimately falls to the ground.

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Four hundred year old trees,
who draw aliveness from the earth
like smoke from the heart of God,
we come, not knowing you
will hush our little want to be big;

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we come, not knowing
that all the work is so much
busyness of mind; all
the worry, so much
busyness of heart.

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As the sun warms anything near,
being warms everything still
and the great still things
that outlast us

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make us crack l
ike leaves of laurel
releasing a fragrance
that has always been.
~Mark Nepo, In Muir Woods

Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord… ~Excerpt from 1 Chronicles 16:33  ✝

**In the photos are leaves from an assortment of local trees including my Japanese Maple as well as fallen leaves both conglomerates of such and individual ones on my front sidewalk. My favorite was the carpet of yellow Gingko Biloba in the yard of a house my daughter used to own.

1313. In the woods we return to reason and faith. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson  

How beautifully the leaves grow old!
How full of light and color are their last days!
~John Burroughs

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It is not so much for its beauty
that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air,
that emanation from old trees that so wonderfully
changes and renews a weary spirit.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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The forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself.  Nature is not merely created by God, nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breath sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness. ~Richard Nelson

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The forests are the flags of nature.
They appeal to all and awaken
inspiring universal feelings.
Enter the forest and the boundaries
of nations are forgotten. It may be
that some time an immortal pine
will be the flag of a united peaceful world.
~Enos A. Mills

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When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?  ~Seneca

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Take me to a quiet place
with earth under our backs,
cradled in a soft forest glade.
There we’ll point out and
acknowledge things we see
and things we do not.
In solitude we’ll take in the
wisdom offered in each other
and in the hum of the forest.
~Phoebe Wahl

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Underfoot, leaves of  wondrous autumn colors
crunch beneath my feet as I tread on and upon
earth’s hallowed ground to capture a piece of the
Lord’s reddened glory laid upon a wooden altar!
~Natalie Scarberry

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When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” ~Luke 5:20  ✝

**Notice the lady bug on the leaf in the first photo. I love it when I get an unexpected bonus on a photo. All photos were taken this last week by me.

1243. Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. ~Mary Oliver

Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way
by Mary Oliver

If you’re John Muir you want trees
to live among. If you’re Emily
(or Natalie), a garden will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.

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When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

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Anything that touches.

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God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
entirely.

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Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.

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In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.

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All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

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To understand many things you must reach
out of your own condition.

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For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!

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Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.

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The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

Stop and be astonished… ~Excerpt from Isaiah 29: 9 ✝

**All images taken by Natalie; the 3 collages by Natalie

1111. Is there something we have forgotten? Some precious thing we have lost, wandering in strange lands? ~Arna Bontemps

In the middle of the journey of our life
I came to myself within a dark wood
where the straight way was lost.
~Dante Alighieri

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Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
~David Wagoner

“…For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~Luke 19:10  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1025. The sweetest two words are “next time.” The sourest word is “if.” ~Chi Chi Rodriguez

When a thing’s done, it’s done,
and if it’s not done right,
do it differently next time.
~Arthur Ransome

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Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain,
any sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I’d know more — the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.
~A poem by Mary Oliver

Okay, kiddies, it’s January 1st and thus the “next time” around this old earth for all of us. And as I’ve aged I’ve come to realize that before starting a new chapter in life, it’s always a good idea to give some thought first to what I’d do differently “next time.” What-if’s are never a good choice because they take the focus off the gifts and lessons of today’s reality. What-iffies are like trying to see what’s coming around the corner before one ever gets to the corner. Since there is absolutely no way we can know what’s around that corner, they waste valuable time preparing for what may never happen. And they are “squishy” in nature in that they require of us no firm direction or intent and allow for a lack of faith. Finding bumps in the road around any corner is a given, but after falling and failing as many times as I have, I’ve learned to get up, dust my behind off, and look for the seeds inherent in all mistakes because they gifts from above that teach one how to improve. So off I go once more seeking that which the Lord lays upon my plate and knowing that in every season there is the possibility of all things under heaven which means sorrow will come but it can’t stop me from laughing, loving, singing, and dancing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here! ~2 Corinthians 5:17  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie