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

1399. Glory be…

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to God and thank you Jesus!!! We just got back from the doctor’s office. The pathology report showed that he had gotten it all and that it had NOT spread to the fatty layer where it could and would spread. James and I have been blessed with so many miracles in our lives, and we are both so very thankful for the Lord’s abiding grace, mercies, and faithfulness. Next month I will be 75 and James will be 82 and we have spent 54 of those years together. I am so grateful, Lord, that it is not over yet for the two of us you joined together so long ago. Now for some quiet praise, chocolate, and tears of joy. Before I sign off though, I want to thank all of you for the heartfelt comments and prayers. May all of you be so very blessed as well! Love and hugs, Natalie

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1385. The whole fabric of Creation is woven through the thread of God’s light. ~J. Philip Newell

How does one separate
the mystery of God
from the mystery of Creation?
Is the sanctuary of a church
more holy than the sanctuary
of earth, sea, and sky?

One of my fellow bloggers recently posted an article about his faith and churches, and as I read the comments of others about what he said, I was disturbed to see how many had negative feelings like I once did about churches. In my twenties I left the church, but I eventually came to realize it was not God nor a church per se that had let me down and hurt me. For God had not failed to be God nor had Jesus failed to be my Savior; it was the flaws and frailties of humanity that had caused my disillusionment. So I’m going to start a three-part series tomorrow about my take on the church and why I worship in one as often as I can. I pray you will read what I have to say even if you have a low regard for churches and then mull over the points I make. I know I am just another flawed human being who struggles like everyone else to make some kind of sense about this thing called life but now I’m also one who no longer questions God nor His truths. There are those who say that Jesus is a myth or a sort of “urban” legend, but for two thousand years no one has been able to prove that He wasn’t exactly who He said He was and is. I was just a proverbial lost sheep and He pursued me for decades until at last I became silent enough to hear His call and now know Him to be the way, the truth, and the life that will lead me home. And it is my most fervent prayer that you who read my thoughts over the next 3 days will feel a close connection to God and Jesus as well. You are on their radar; I know that for certain.

*Crepuscular rays (also known as sunbeams, sun rays, angel light, or God rays) are atmospheric optics that appear to radiate from a point in the sky…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. ~Psalm 19:1-2  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

1367. March is the month of expectation… ~Emily Dickinson

The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here.
~Author Unknown

Well, as usual March blew in hard and fast, and its gusty winds did indeed roar and prowl about like the a lion most every day. And before the month came to and end yesterday, tornados blew into our area 4 prior to its demise, which will have more than likely driven off any remaining vestiges of Old Man Winter’s wiles. Though springtime has newly sprung, sadly here it appears summer’s fires are already being stoked. So it seems that spring will be short lived, and we will most surely be in for one long, long, long hot summer. Springtime may not only be very short-lived but this year’s has also not been as stellar as those of the past few years. However, as abbreviated and limited as it may be, I couldn’t let it pass without sharing its glory.

It all started with the redbud tree
which began showing color almost
at the very onset of the month.

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Then the wisteria dangled and
spread its richly scented purple
lusciousness around the yard.

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Not to be out done the tulips tiptoed
around underneath a garden fountain.

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Then the roses commenced setting buds
and some have already opened to release
their prodigious and assorted aromas.

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Next the clematis vines embarked on
their climbs and some have even set their
pointy buds, while a few have actually
opened to display their magical deliciousness.

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Thereupon the gulf penstemmon pushed
up their tall spires and are now ringing
their dainty, purply “tinkling” fairy bells.

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About that time the colorful columbines
proceeded to prance around buffeted by
our north and south, high gusting winds.

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Finally the poppies sent up their nodding buds
that quite soon stood ever so tall and straight,
which is their modus operandi, before popping
open to jitterbug upon the whimsy of the winds.

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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. ~Song of Songs 2:12  ✝

1352. If God had wanted to be a big secret, He would not have created babbling brooks and whispering pines. ~Robert Brault

Nor would He have created blue skies, nor sandy beaches nor stars above, nor beautiful flowers, nor falling snow, and on and on the list of clues goes. God wants to speak to us through all that He has made. All of Creation gives pointers into Yahweh’s mystery because it is part of His grand plan that we draw near Him for in so doing we discover our divinely-inspired and eternal connection to Abba, our Loving Father.

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The most beautiful thing
we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder
and stand rapt in awe, is as good
as dead: his eyes are closed.
~Albert Einstein

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Einstein is right; it’s impossible for science to explain everything and in the pause of wonder, rapt in awe, we come to appreciate the endless and vast wonders of what God’s mind imagined, what His words spoke, and what His hands created. Thus in being brought close to the heart and mind of God, one’s sense of childlike astonishment returns the I nexpressible joy and utter excitement of life. And it helps us to know on a more conscious level that there’s more to life than what we can understand and explain. That’s why I like to think of the unfathomable mysteries around us as sacred benedictions, blessing at the close of earth’s daily holy orders that encourage us to stay in the Lord’s keeping and to continue looking for more revelations of the Holy One’s nature and intent for our lives.

Who…is like You, LORD? Who is like You—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? ~Excerpted passage from Exodus 15:11  ✝

**These images were taken in the springtime, but that chair and others like it are always in close proximity to my door, and I sit in them on most everyday of the year even if it’s for just a short while.

1339. There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way. ~Libba Bray

Glory be to you, O God,
for the grace of new beginnings
placed before me in every moment
and encounter, good or bad, of life.
~Edited quote by
John Philip Newell

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Wood as found in the natural world is, in and of itself, beautiful; the same is true of marble. However if wood is to be used in the making of a violin for example, some tools needed to hollow and shape the wood accordingly are chisels, knives, saws, scrapers. groove cutters, hole reamers, and peg shavers. And some tools needed to gouge and shape something out of marble are chisels, hammers, drills, rasps, files, and abrasive sandpapers, all of which in both instances can and do draw blood and extract the proverbial “pound of flesh” if used on we mortals. And the point of such is? Well, in a way these processes correlate to human suffering and what it can and often does achieve in a person’s life. For it is not until the wood is gouged out and shaped that its “voice,” AKA it’s exquisite sound, is released from the wood to bless our ears, and it is not until someone like Michelangelo gouges around and in a piece of marble that magnificent angels appear from deep inside the marble’s being to bless our eyes. So it was that when reading a comment today by a fellow blogger who has endured much “gouging,” it finally dawned on me in light of her struggles and mine as well as those of others that it is not until the soul is “gouged” out that we mortals are able to give “voice” in some way to garnered wisdom and profound truths. Thus trials should be seen as gifts to be embraced and celebrated, not mourned and regretted. However being appreciative of pain is something most of us find difficult at best. Clearly though “had the eye no tear, the soul would have no rainbow” nor would the dark depths of the soul ever come into healing light. The passages of Scripture below as well as others tell us to be “content” and even “thankful” about losses and painful trials for they are blessings brought forth from the scraping, gouging, and shaping the Lord has done and continues to do in our souls in order to set free “earth” angels, to give life to sacred and powerful voices, to fulfill ordained purposes, and to help bring about the memory of what we left in childhood that my dear friend calls the “soft glory of our being.”

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4  ✝

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ~Romans 12:12  ✝

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:10  ✝

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ~1 Peter 5:10  ✝

**Image found on the Internet; special effects done on by me on spicy

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.