416. God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her through the night with a light from above. ~Irving Berlin

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Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men, and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope.  So it was in the beginning.  So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.  ~Lyndon B. Johnson

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.  ~William J. Clinton

O Lord, may we the people never take the gift of freedom for granted. May our hearts be filled with love, our souls with peace, and our lives with joy. May our prayers always be a chant of the humble and the grateful. May your hand of blessing always be over us, and may we praise and seek you in all things. In Jesus’ name!

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. ~2 Corinthians 3:17   ✝

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!

 

 

377. Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man. ~Vladimir Nabokov

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable,
butterflies lead to the sunny side of life.
And everyone deserves a little sunshine.
~Jeffrey Glassberg

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A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
and for a brief moment, its glory and beauty
belong to our world.
But then it flies again,
And though we wish it could have stayed…
We feel lucky to have seen it at all.
~Author Unknown

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” ~Hans Christian Anderson

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. ~1 Chronicles 16:29 ✝

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!

186. Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds:
And as the mind is pitch’d the ear is pleased
With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch’d within us, and the heart replies.
~William Cowper

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The November morn was cool and crisp, and the solitary man playing the bag pipes was standing against the backdrop of changing leaves and flowing water.  The mystical sounds of the “pipes” were drifting along on gentle breezes over the whole of a very large park.  It was Veterans Day, and the man may have been playing in remembrance of friends or relatives, but it could have been a salutation to the day’s magnificence as well because his harmonies embodied not only touches of the melancholy but also traces of the celebratory.  As I watched transfixed and mesmerized by the sounds, he played on at first unaware of my presence behind him.  But soon I realized that between the melodies he was slowly turning in a circle and would soon face me and the ones gathering behind me.  It was as if he was wanting to address his elegy and/or hymn of praise to all the earth.  At each of his turns we who were witnessing the spectacle seemingly became aware that something sacrosanct was moving through us, moving through the “piper”, moving through the pipes, moving through the trees, moving through the water.  More than that, one could not help but feel that the sanctity was moving throughout the whole of Creation that was within the sound of his pipes and our vision.  I can’t speak for the other observers, but when the “piper” finished “some chord in unison” with what I’d heard and seen had touched me so deeply that my heart replied with tears of sadness for fallen and wounded patriots everywhere and for the joy I’d felt in the beauty of the “piper’s” music.

**I didn’t attempt to take the bag piper’s photo that day because it somehow seemed like an invasion of his privacy.  I decided the one above would be equally appropriate for this post since my sister took it on a beach at Normandy where so many fell in WW II while in pursuit of freedom’s calling.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  ~Psalm 57:7  ✝

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake, English poet, painter and printmaker

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin

One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.  

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of 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   ✝