1409. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

For, after all, put it as we may ourselves,
we are all of us, from birth to death, guests
at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath
are parts of the banquet…
Shall we think of the day then as a chance
to come nearer our Host, and find out
something of Him who has fed us so long?
-Rebecca Harding Davis

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 10.22.54 PM.png

Autumn is perennially one of the two seasons in which I pray every available drop of glory lands squarely in the metaphorical cup intended to quench the thirst of the my soul. Although there are delights to serve that purpose in all the seasons, spring and fall feed my parched soul like no other, and I would lament the spillage of even a single drop of their honeyed elixir. From the very beginning all humanity has indeed been a guest at a table it did not set, and Yahweh who set the table remains the Gracious Host of the banquet which is annually laid before us. Given that, the question is how does one respond appropriately to the Lord’s continuous and magnanimous gifts. Among other things Scripture says His people should rejoice and be glad in their days and that they should be thankful for His gifts and praise Him always. So years ago when I began to realize how much a bent toward cynicism was squelching my gratitude and keeping me from receiving God’s full measure of grace, I began an experiment to prove something to myself. At the end of each day, I’d write down at least 5 blessings, good things that I’d experienced during the course of the day. Despite my doubts of accomplishing that goal for any length of time, I soon discovered that I could find more than enough commendable and/or noteworthy good things for which to thank God, especially the blessings that come through the five senses especially when I discovered that morning glories love the fall’s cooler temps and put on a splendid, “grand finale.” Once moe I realized that for any relationship to work and flourish it is not enough to just feel love. The recipient, be it a mortal he or she or a Deity, they must be told and shown as often as possible how deep our love and gratitude goes.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. -Philippians 2:1-2 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1090. Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. ~Napoleon Hill

With the past, I have nothing to do;
nor with the future. I live now.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 9.11.09 PM.png

Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.
~John O’Donohue

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. ~Psalm39:7  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1066. God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. ~Francis Bacon

A garden is a delight to the eye
and a solace for the soul.
~Sadi

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 7.25.14 PM.png

Who hath a garden, he has joy,
However small his plot may be.
Wide his horizons; in his demesne
Master of beauty and life is he.

God has gracious smiled on him,
Made him a helper in His great task–
Building a glorious world in time;
What finer task could anyone ask?

Who hath a garden, he has friends–
Lilies and roses will not forsake;
When they depart, ‘tis but for a time;
They will return when the spring winds wake.

Let him rejoice on his kingly throne
Who hath a garden of pink and gold;
Kings bear burdens and soon are gray–
Who hath a garden shall not grow old.
~Thomas Curtis Clark

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. ~Psalm 47:1  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

979.Let there be spaces in your togetherness. ~Kahlil Gibran

Our time here is magic!
It’s the only space
we have to realize whatever it is
that is beautiful,
whatever is true,
whatever is great,
whatever has potential,
whatever is rare,
whatever is unique.
~Ben Okri

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 5.49.22 PM.png

By the time my widowed mother entered her 90’s, it was becoming apparent that her days of living alone in a large home were drawing quickly to an end. And eventually she came to that awareness on her own. Since she hated the idea of going to a nursing home or one of those places for seniors, James and I offered to build onto our house so she could live with us. Shortly thereafter she put her house up for sale and a private bathroom, laundry room, and bedroom/sitting room was being added to our home. It took all summer to complete the project, and then after she moved into her new quarters, it was only five months later that she passed away. I thought perhaps, James would want to turn the area into a new master bedroom for the two of us, but he said he wanted me to have it as a studio for my craft and photography projects as well as for my computer where I write and edit my photos. So I bought some new furniture, et voilà, “Natalieworld” as I call in came into being. I love it out here as it has two windows that look out onto my garden as well as French doors that open out onto my own little patio and the rest of the yard.

It has been said that we all have a personal space, an area with invisible boundaries surrounding our bodies into which intruders may not come. I also think we have a need for a kind of private personal space–a little time away, a little time out from one another. And for me, my personal space is a sacred space which reflects my passions and treasures. It’s also a refuge where for a time I can turn my back on the world’s madness, and it is a shelter that contains, cuddles, refreshes and stimulates me. It contain elements of beauty, faith, family, friends, serenity, mystery–all the things that “pour moi” possess a timeless, magical quality. I cherish it dearly and believe that even the Lord has a space of His own.

He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. ~Job 26:7   ✝

**the images in the collage are from Natalieworld, my own sacred space. If it had not been another cloudy rainy day, I wouldn’t have had to use the flash on my camera and the photos would have been better. I’m sorry that the biggest one has such a huge and glaring white spot at the top.I tried but I couldn’t edit it out without taking more out of the photo than I wanted.

898. Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. ~Anaïs Nin

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.
We should all be thankful for those people
who rekindle the inner spirit.
~Albert Schweitzer

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 3.57.55 PM

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity. ~Henri Nouwen

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18  ✝

**Rose image via Pinterest

769. It takes a whole village to raise a child. ~Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb

Everyone in the family participates especially
the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins.
It is not unusual for children to stay for long periods with
their grandparents or aunts or uncles.
Even the wider community gets involved
such as neighbors and friends.
Children are considered a blessing
from God for the whole community.
~Edited excerpt
by Rev. Joseph G. Healey

Screen shot 2015-06-12 at 3.46.11 PM

The ancient human social construct that once was common in this land was called community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Mumbai. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs. In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community. ~by Barbara Kingsolver

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12   ✝

**Images via Pinterest, collage created by Natalie

754. It took a lone assent of self to get back up… ~Julie Cook (https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/about/)

A voice beneath the surface
Speaks
Echoes into my
Inner being
Inner heart
Inner mind
Blessing me
With
Strength to arise
~Yoshiko
(https://zyoshiko.wordpress.com/author/yoshikoz/)

Screen shot 2015-06-02 at 3.27.54 PM

We are more than what people see on the surface. We are narratives, stories that make us who and what we are. And the stories are ripe with sorrows and joys, defeats and victories, love and loss, suffering and wellness–all those things each of us must face in life. And like my friend, Virginia, says “when you shed light on your past and how it affected you, it illustrates the transition that occurred to mold you into the person you are today.” So here I go with the next installment in my little story.

After being stuck in limbo the first semester of my sophomore year, I eventually found the strength to rise, albeit on wobbly and unsure legs at times, and I began the “lone assent of self” back into the mainstream of life. It was the summer of ‘62 and I had decided to continue working half a day for the Dean of Women as well as get a couple of courses out of the way in summer school. Since I only worked in the afternoons, I had some time on my hands after my morning classes were over, and what better place to go than the student center where food and friends awaited a hungry “climber.” The living was easy that summer and life was good. I had met some new friends who were teaching me to play bridge. And soon Keith, Danny, and I were playing bridge well enough to play in competition, and that summer would become one of the most memorable ones of my life.

…weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 ✝

**Image of old French, 1902 calendar page via Pinterest

720. O, the month of May, the merry month of may… ~Thomas Dekker

Ho! the merrie first of Maie
Brings the daunce and blossoms gaie
To make of lyfe a holiday!
~Old English saying

Screen shot 2015-05-01 at 4.11.51 PM

Thousands of years ago winter was a time to honor death and the summer a time to honor life. In those ancient times the short days, grey skies, and cold temperatures began to wear people down and that coupled with a gradual decline in food supplies took its toll on their spirits. Indeed winter was a very difficult time for the ancients, and so the coming of summer brought them great hope. As the crops and grasslands became full of life again, the animals bred, and the warmth of the sun thawed out the earth and their spirits, they celebrated the cross-over and coming change in the human cycle that reflected the turning of the seasons. It was a time for celebrating the forces of life overcoming death, light overcoming darkness, and summer overcoming winter.

Screen shot 2015-05-01 at 4.03.55 PM

Thus began the dancing around the May pole. A kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th century, began as a traditional artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences. An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the US well into the 1950’s.

Screen shot 2015-05-01 at 3.58.52 PM

I remember in elementary school making May baskets and flowers out of coloredl pieces of construction paper and crepe paper. Today May Day has many different meanings, if any, but it eventually found its place in Christianity. And though considered quaint now, in decades past, like dancing around the maypole, as the month of April rolled to an end, people begin gathering flowers and candies and goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors, and loved ones on May 1st. And there were even rules about the basket tradition:

1.  Giving was supposed to be anonymous. Reciprocity was not expected. One was to leave the basket on the doorknob or doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
2.  Children were to give to grownups, instead of the other way around. On almost every other holiday, only the child receives gifts; so they don’t get to experience the true joy of unselfish giving.

He(Jesus) told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near…” ~Luke 21:29-30   ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collages created by Natalie

648. Make friends with the angels, who though invisible, are always with you. ~St. Francis de Sales

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us,
and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to
visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
~George Eliot

Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 4.35.26 PM

Kind words, considerate actions, comforting wisdom, encouraging praise–all or some borne on the breath of warmhearted, consoling voices–are no less than the sweet sound of Grace falling on the ears of those in need of reassurance or salvation or deliverance. And what a blessing are they are, these angels chosen to deliver God’s grace for their tender voices and caring kindnesses penetrate all manner of despair. And these divinely appointed “earth angels,” often come from the ranks of ordinary people, but in rising to a divine calling they are lifted up to the realm of the extraordinary. And how they honor the Christ by answering His call to serve!

The human heart is an altar upon which one can and does lay a multitude of things. But, it is not meant to be a personal shrine for self-centered collections of worldliness. Nor should it be defiled with traces of anger, jealousy, or hatred. The altar of the heart should be blanketed with empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, non-violence, and love. Only then will it be a place that Holy God can find the fruits befitting angels and use the bearers of such as instruments of His grace and mercy. It’s not always an easy task to prepare the heart’s altar in such a way, but what an honor it is to realize that on the altar of one’s heart there is something worthy of being used by the Lord God Almighty.

Here’s to all the “earth angels” out there in the blogosphere who share their hearts and gifts with those in need.  I recognize your grace-filled hearts and I adore you…Natalie

May God grant you always…
a sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you,
laughter to cheer you,
faithful friends near and far,
and whenever you pray, His ear to hear you.
~Irish Blessing

Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. ~Psalm 103:20   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

507. Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. ~Victor Hugo

E = mc2, WW II, Shakespeare,
Parliament, ABC, Home Ec,
Digital, Olympics, Dewey Decimal,
H2O…

Screen shot 2014-10-04 at 2.16.10 PM

If one desperately needed to laugh, he/she would probably not look first in the “groves of Academe” for that which brings the gift of uproarious laughter, but that’s where I found it yesterday. And the folks around the table at lunch, including me, whose areas of expertise are expressed above the photo, had all long been high school educators. During our time together in those “groves” we formed bonds like hydrogen does with oxygen to make a life-giving source.

We were young then and raising our families, but now decades later we’re retired. The bond we formed while we taught, however, is strong still, as it usually is, with people who share in each other’s tragedies and failures as well as rejoice in each other’s triumphs and joys. Inside and outside classroom walls, we were part of the village it takes to raise a child, ours and those of others, and overtime the village was forged into a fortress that has withstood the test of time.

After my friends and I retired, we decided to meet for lunch once a month. But because I’ve been experiencing more pain than usual this last year, I have not been joining them for a while. Though not life-threatening the arthritis in both of my feet has kept me from being able to stand very long for years.  Now the Restless Leg Syndrome I’ve been experiencing has worsened rendering some nights virtually sleepless, and the problem with my left knee that developed in January has not been resolved which keeps me hobbling around with a cane. Together these issues have lately had me spiraling down into a dark and humorless pit; so I decided last week I needed to and therefore should attend our little gathering this month, and I’m so glad I did. Though we eat in the restaurant where we meet, my friend Liz always makes dessert, and yesterday she brought her “world’s best” cheesecake. So it was that as all headed home our bellies and souls had been richly fed, and we had shared in long, joyous, and spiritually healing laughter.  Winter had been driven from my face, and now I can enjoy autumn even more than ever.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. ~Psalm 126:2a   ✝

Thank you, Lord, for these and all your “tender mercies.”