1177. The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just to the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin

I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire, and thank fate ceaselessly with a loud voice that it did not permit town to sap all the years away while the heart was turning to wind-voices and flower-faces and the hands of kindly earth. ~Mrs. George Cran

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There are times when I cannot believe I am separate from this earth, when I could swear the wind blows through me as it does the woven needles of the pine tree by the creek, when I feel my feet planted deep in the earth with the roots of trees and wildflowers, drawing essence. ~Cathy Johnson

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The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest.  Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.  So long as we are dirty, we are pure.  Fondness for the ground comes back to a man after he has run the round of pleasure and business, eaten dirt, and sown wild oats, drifted about the world, and taken the wind of all its moods.  The love of digging in the ground (or of looking on while he pays another to dig) is as sure to come back to him, as he is sure, at last, to go under the ground, and stay there. ~Charles Dudley Warner

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Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. ~Genesis 2:8-9  ✝

**All images but one found on Pinterest; all collages created by Natalie

1174. Bring me the the sunflower crazed with the love of light. ~Eugenio Montale

Many flowers open to the sun
but only one follows it constantly.
Heart be thou the sunflower, not only
only open to receive God’s blessing
but constant in looking to Him.
~Jean Paul Richter

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The Legend of the Sunflower

A beautiful princess once sought to find a path to the sun.  She traveled the world over but couldn’t seem to find a path that would take her there.  One day as she was searching, she chanced upon a small straggling flower hidden in the shade of a large tree. The princess, believing in the healing powers of the sun, dug up the small flower and placed it in her garden.

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That night as the princess slept, the sun, sensing the princess’s sadness, showered sunbeams down on the little flower. The next morning as the princess looked upon her struggling flower, tears fell from her eyes and when they touched the flower a magical thing happened. The sunbeams came alive and encircled the head of the flower like flames shooting from the sun. Day after day, the flower reached up for the sun until it towered over the princess. At summer’s end, she gathered all the sunflower’s seeds, and scattered them throughout the land, spreading sunshine.

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In the same way, let your light shine before others, they they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16  ✝

**Images of sunflower taken by me in my yard; bottom image of seeds in the center of a mature sunflower found on the Internet; collages by Natalie

1026. The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. ~John Burroughs

Winter is the slow-down
Winter is the search for self
Winter gives the silence you need to listen
Winter goes gray so you can see your own colors…
~Terri Guillemets

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What is your color? Do you know? If you do, do you like what you see? If you don’t, maybe you should give some thought as to why. For what colors us, colors our world and the way in which we respond to those around us. Perhaps like me, the seasons determine your colors, which I’m given to believe is a good thing. I rather like the idea of being a whole spectrum of colors as opposed to being a monotonous stream of only one or two. Whether such things matter is not the true import of my discourse here however. As Guillemets suggests we truly do need time to slow down, time to rest, time to listen, time to reflect on things for soon we will forge full speed ahead into another year of life that we’ll never get back, that when it’s over will never afford us more chances to change, that when it’s spent will never allow us more time to become all that we are meant to be, that when it ends will never give us other opportunities to forgive, to love, to find and bring peace. So when I find myself grumbling about the grays of sunless, winter days, I tell myself that perhaps they happen because the color gray is a good back drop for discerning the true colors of life, the unmasked face of the world, and our authentic reflection upon its stage.

A year of beauty. A year of plenty.
A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of healing. A year of vision.
A year of passion. A year of rebirth.
A year of peace.

This year may we renew the earth.
Let it begin with each step we take.
And let it begin with each change we make.
And let it begin with each chain we break.
And let it begin every time we awake.
~Edited poem by Starhwak

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

739. My head is bursting with the joy of the unknown. My heart is expanding a thousand fold. ~Rumi, translated by Shahram Shiva

Of all the senses,
sight must be 
the most delightful.
~Helen Keller, deaf and blind
American author and lecturer

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May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
and glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you.

May your soul beautify
The desire of your eyes
That you might glimpse
The infinity that hides
In the simple sights
That seem worn
To your usual eyes.

~Excerpts from a blessings for
the senses by John O’Donohue

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. ~Matthew 6:22   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

607. He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… ~John Burroughs

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral.
The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor
and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere,
is not lost either upon the head or the heart.
It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet
and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.
~John Burroughs

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At daybreak yesterday winter’s customary leaden skies spread out in brilliant, China blues, and the cold, cold January day issued forth golden streaks of sunlight that ran across the wheat-colored lawn. Blanketed in warmth inside, I sat for some time enjoying an untroubled spectacle and watching the birds fly back and forth from feeders to their sheltering places.  But soon the serenity of the scene was threatened by four feral cats who moved in, crouched down, and inched along the ground in hopes of securing a tasty “catch” for the day. However, as luck would have it, one of the birds spied the predators, sounded the alarm, and off they all flew. When the cats tired of waiting, they wandered off, and the birds returned to their feeding frenzy. Eventually I spotted the one for whom I’d been waiting; he, a bright red cardinal, zoomed in and perched momentarily atop the feeder pole, a throne not wholly unbefitting his majesty. As I lingered watching his bright red flashes flit about here, there, and everywhere, I realized that last night’s blustery north wind had ceased, and now only sporadic zephyrs were ruffling the bamboo’s leaves. And so it was that a splendid morn had unfolded and everything within my frame of vision had been steeped in a heavenly quietude, a “chirpy” kind of beauty, and a soothing calmness. What a healing balm tis such for one, wearied, crestfallen, and grappling with pain! The Lord, in His loving and mysterious ways, had tipped over my cup of despair and once more filled it to overflowing with His loving grace. O Eden, how you yet issue benedictions that fill and thrill the children of your faithful, Master Gardener.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. ~Genesis 2:15   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

509. How we treat the vulnerable is how we define ourselves as a species. ~Russell Brand

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength –
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more!

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It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all –
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Matthew Arnold

Echoes, echoes of the past–voices, so many familiar voices gone, now silenced by the closing of their life’s doors–memories, memories mingling with the present, all bringing the dark clouds that move in across her brain where the fury of raging storms begin on unfamiliar shores. The echoes, the voices, and the memories become scrambled in her dementia so that things and people once cherished create anxiety, anguish, and at times torment. Her mind, once sharp and clear, is now befuddled as she becomes more and more lost inside herself and her fears. Her family raised, her labors done, there is nothing left now but the lonely silence of her worsening deafness and the rapid waning of her vision. Soon she will be ever so far away from me, the one in whose womb my life began. Will she then still know my face and the feel of my touch? Will the skies ever again clear in her head and cast her weary, but back on familiar shores? Or has she begun the final journey of her dreaded aloneness? Please Lord, be with my mother as she struggles to navigate these dark passages of uncharted waters. Bring her comfort and peace, and if not mine, then let her recognize Your touch and know Your face. Let the child she has again become blindly trust as she once did that all is well with her soul and that You will care for her always. And let Your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind that’s becoming so profoundly confused, wounded, and betrayed by her aged, earthly body.

One of my followers commented yesterday on my memory post about the sadness of dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s, and I know that others of you are caring for elderly parents whose memories are failing. In those situations there are two or more people affected by the circumstances; both the aged and their caregiver(s) are profoundly impacted by this passage. So I decided to share the above with all of you.  It is something I wrote in my journal during a long, hard night when I was caring for my 92-year-old mother before she passed away.

 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝

446. Petunia, you are a jewel of the dawn; your horn is thick and bright as the morning. ~Steve Gunther

Petunia, you raise your face
and trumpet your song to the midday.
Your song is delicate and frail.
Your green fingers tremble in the smile of the eye
like the hum of a bee lost in the torpor of your kiss.

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Your head nods with the gentle breeze.
You are at peace.
Your color is your happiness.
Petunia, open your eye,
spread your fragile smile to the moon.

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Your petals drink in the night,
the cool air sits on you
weightless, trickling
from your fluted flowers,
from your fingers.

~Excerpted and adapted verses from a poem by Steve Gunther

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. ~Psalm 57:7-8   ✝

Sweet Jesus, fill us with the mercy You bled and draw us back unto Yourself!