1395. As a writer you have a duty to be a messenger. ~Jay Griffiths

We all serve as a vessel to be
messengers for one another.
Are you sharing the messages
you’re inspired to speak?
Someone is waiting to hear your words.
~Nanette MathewsScreen Shot 2017-07-22 at 8.11.38 PM.pngMy work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam…
~Excerpted lines from The Messenger,
a poem by Mary OliverScreen Shot 2017-07-22 at 8.22.59 PM.pngWe often see ourselves as small, insignificant citizens,
but God sees in us as His messengers.
~Sunday AdelajaScreen Shot 2017-07-22 at 8.22.12 PM.png

“ ‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’ ” ~Daniel 4:17  ✝

**Sunflowers images taken by Natalie; hummingbird images via Pinterest

1359. Human beings need pleasure, as in to be thrilled, the way they need vitamins. ~Edited line by Lionel Tiger

thrilled

1. a. A sudden feeling of pleasure or excitement
    b. A source or cause of pleasure or excitement
2. a. A quivering caused by sudden excitement or emotion
    b. A trembling caused by pleasurable excitement or emotion

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O, money can’t buy the delights of the garden,
Nor Poetry sing all its charms:
There’s a solace and calm ne’er described by the pen
When we’re folded within Nature’s arms!
~Edited and adapted poem
by James Rigg

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Surely you’ve been thrilled by something that truly speaks to you, and when it does, your heart bursts with an adrenaline rush? I hope so! For me, is has happened time and time again in my garden during every season. And there is something about all of them that thrills and excites me through and through. But in spring the excitement ratchets up even more so especially when finding those first little green shoots pushing up through the soil or better yet that first bloom that makes me tremble with delight all the way down to my very core. As it sends pure elation racing through my veins, that spicy taste of something thrilling ushers along a sweet taste of hope. For in witnessing another round of earth’s sweet beginning in God’s Eden, I experience the richness of nature’s holy, ancient, and forever faithful design. In knowing that I am so filled with gladness that tears well up in gratitude for the privilege of being alive as well as for being granted time to lead a quiet life and work the soil with my hands in my tiny piece of Eden. Above and below are the first fruits of my labor this year; I planted these tulips last December, and their exquisiteness is taking by breath away day by day by day!

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To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be elated by the stars at night; to be thrilled by a bird’s nest or a flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~Edited and adapted quote by John Burroughs

In trying to please God, we are asked in Scripture to: Make it our goal to live a quiet life, minding our own business and working with our hands… ~1 Thessalonians 4:11  ✝

1321. Sense your Being, your own presence. That’s a source of joy. That’s the ultimate gratitude. ~Eckhart Tolle

presence

noun pres·ence \ˈpre-zən(t)s\
:  the fact or condition of being present
:  the bearing, carriage, or air of a person;
: the state of being closely focused on the here and now, not distracted by irrelevant thoughts

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A fellow blogger posted the above quote by Tolle yesterday, and since then I’ve been thinking about it and what it means. For me it begs the question as to whether it’s just a matter of being visible and tangible or more than that a matter of reflecting the sacred Image in which we are made. And if it is the latter, what does that reflection look like. I believe it is one where goodness and light are as apparent as physical attributes and personality particulars. For example light can be so prevalent in some, as was so with my father, that there’s a perceivable twinkle in the eyes that warms and begets a very real presence even in photographs. And as for goodness, when present it is like an aura that surrounds and defines a person.

To quote Tolle again, “The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment.” In the first quote Tolle implores us to be aware of our Being as a source of joy and gratitude. That should occur in every moment if we remain aware of the fact that life is gift and express our gratitude to the Maker of all life for that gift. According to Alan Cohen, “appreciation is the highest from of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

So presence it seems to me is an awareness of the sacred ground on which we stand at every moment of our lives, an awareness of the sanctity of all living things, an awareness of the holy air we breathe, an awareness of the holy light that shines on and in everyone, an awareness of intentional and divine creation, and an awareness that He who brought us here saw that all He did and made was good. So when we are asked to sense our own presence we should realize that first and foremost it is “purely and completely evidence of God’s grace” in our lives. Walt Whitman once penned, “we convince by our presence,” and so it is not our face nor our hair nor our size nor any such thing that matters when we talk of presence. It must always be the goodness and light we bring to our “state of being closely focused on the here and now” which is “not distracted by irrelevant thoughts” as Webster so aptly defined it in his dictionary notation above.

God intended Earth.
God intended the waters.
God intended you and me.
We were created in the image 
and
the likeness of God; 
we are holograms, if you will.
So the power, the presence, the energy
is within you and me.
The energy of God, as life,
 is within each of us.
~Mary Manin Morrissey

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ~Excerpt from Genesis 1:31  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text on image added by Natalie; special effects on image done on iPiccy

1284. I have faith in myself and my life. I honour the wisdom of my soul. ~Julie Parker

This is a very important practice. Live your
daily life in a way that you never lose yourself.
When you are carried away with your worries, fears,
cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself
and you lose yourself. The practice is
always to go back to oneself.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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The place I want to get back to
is where in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; border and special effects done on iPiccy

1237. Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them. ~Vincent McNabb

What is Hope? a star that gleaming
O’er the future’s troubled sky,
Struggles, tremulously beaming,
To reveal what there may lie.
~R.A.P., “Hope,” in 
Southern Literary Messenger,
December 1840

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In one of my posts today appear the following lines: “Deep at the center of your being is an infinite well of gratitude. Allow this gratitude to fill your heart, your body, your mind, your consciousness, your very being. This gratitude will radiate out from you in all directions, touching everything in your world, and return to you as more to be grateful for.” And I am living proof that this is absolute truth. I’ve mentioned in some of my early blogs that after my father’s death when I was 18, my faith journey was derailed for quite some time. And for years following that things happened that caused me to become very cynical about life. What I didn’t realize was that what’s inside our hearts and minds becomes evident as well in our faces and our demeanor, and bitter cynicism does not make one pretty or welcoming. About 20 years ago after I finally reconnected with the Lord, slowly but surely gratitude began to swell inside me despite the fact that I still walked physically painful and trying paths. Then after surviving a stroke with negligible, residual effects nearly 4 years ago, my gratitude took another huge leap so much so that it is as it says above “radiating out in all directions touching everything in my world.” One of the ways it has become blatantly obvious is the way strangers, people I run into in my day to day doings and goings, respond and interact with me. It’s as if we become friends almost instantly. For example, about month ago we went to a new restaurant to eat, and a young girl of a different skin color, brought us our food and though I can’t remember now why, something happened that made us both laugh. As a result when we left that day, she  walked after us to wish us a good day. Then the next week when we went in she brought us our food again and engaged us in a brief conversation as though we were friends who’d known each other for quite a while. As we left that day there was another warm good-bye and well wishes given to us. In week number three, a different waiter brought us our food, but soon afterwards she stopped by our table to say hello, tell us she was sorry she didn’t get to bring us our food, and she chatted with us for a few minutes. Also. on the way out the door which had been broken, she made a point of coming over to tell us to be careful and watch out for the broken glass. This brings us to yesterday when we ate there again (yes, we really do like their food), once more a different waiter brought us our food, but it wasn’t long before she came over to our table to give me a hug and ask us how things were going. So what’s the point of my story about all this? With all the black lives matter drama that has stirred up racial unrest again, it has restored my hope that we can in fact all learn to get along with one another. However, it has to begin with each and everyone of us and our willingness to look at people through the eyes of our heart and not through the judgmentally-learned eyes of our faces. Before I go here’s one last blessing that has helped restore hope in me. My blog has now reached 70% of the world’s countries, and so I have garnered lots of followers of different ethnicities and cultures, all of whom have proven to be lovely people with a willingness to accept others different from themselves as well as engage in pleasant exchanges with them. And so to end I want to share some things Audrey Hepburn had to say along similar lines:

I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most. To laugh cures a multitudes of ills.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.
I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness, and for poise, walk in the knowledge that you are never alone.

When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. ~Job 29:24  ✝

**Image via the Internet

1227. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. ~Mahatma Gandhi

When I despair, I remember that all through
history the ways of truth and love
have always won. There have been tyrants,
and murderers, and for a time they can
seem invincible, but in the end
they always fall. Think of it–always.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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I have heard from two friends today whose hearts have been hurt deeply. And as we all do, they are questioning why and how people can be so hateful and hurtful. Years ago when I was coping with a very hurtful situation, a friend of mine told me that only “hurting people hurt other people.” And over the years since I’ve come to see that Jack was exactly right. But then that doesn’t address another part of my friend’s questioning which was a.) do I think there are more hurting people these days and b.) if so, why? Before I answer that, let me say first that the fact that one of the Adam and Eve’s children killed his brother did not bode well for mankind’s ability to co-exist from the get go. We live in a fallen world in which good and evil do exist and have from the moment the choice was made to defy God’s will. And millennia after millennia has provided more than adequate evidence of a common inability as a whole to be loving and to get along peacefully. Now to address two of her queries; yes, I do think there are more hurting, hateful people, and the source is the media and the internet as you suggested. Just look at what we are being fed 24/7–It’s “cool” to be a bad-ass, it’s “cool” to be disrespectful, it’s “cool” to bully others, it’s “cool” get revenge and on and on it goes around the clock and ad nauseum. But like Gandhi I’ve not lost faith in mankind’s ability to self-correct. And it all starts with each and everyone one of us. The tools at our easy disposal are kind words, kind gestures, and lots of smiles especially to and with those who are hell-bent on behaving badly. We also have to choose to surround ourselves with people who support and affirm who and what we are; we have to choose to walk away from those who want to fight verbally or physically; we have to choose to forgive transgressions which in the end if not released only poison ourselves; we have to choose to be kind to ourselves as well by finding or creating some kind of sacred space where we can restore and re-energize our emotional well being; we have to choose to leave any and all past hurts behind us never to be brought into the present again; and we have to find places and ways to sit in silence in order to listen to the still, small voice inside who loves us and wants to heal our brokenness. And finally we have to greet each day and each breath with gratitude for the gifts that they are; we have to learn when enough is enough; we have to realize the finiteness of each breath, each step, each day; and for heaven’s sake we have to quit trying to seek a “version” of ourselves and find the real, authentic person inside. Is all of the above easy to do? No, but then what is in this life? Is it essential that we try? Yes, for the ones we leave behind when we are gone!

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… ~Luke 6:27  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1210. If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us
to encounter everyday epiphanies, those
transcendent moments of awe that change
forever how we experience life and the world.
~John Milton

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When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~Wendell Berry

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He (the Lord) maketh me lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. ~Psalm 23: 1-2  ✝

**Images of wood drakes and great herons via Pinterest; collages created by Natalie