1330. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. ~John Milton

In a futile attempt to erase our past,
we deprive the community of our healing gift.
If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame,
our inner darkness can neither be illuminated
nor become a light for others.
~Brennan Manning

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Everyone has a story no matter what their age. We who are older however are actually made up of a series of stories, and in each of them tides turned along the way or remained static because of the choices we made and/or the chances we took. And one of the most critical choices each one of us has to make is whether or not to be authentically who God intended us to be. Most of us have somewhat of a grasp of that early on, but adolescence is and was a game changer. Living through those years is like what Virginia Woolf once said, “the eyes of others are our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” During the formative, teen years rather than remaining true to oneself, many try to be what the eyes of others think they should be and to think thoughts and to have ideas that this body of “they” believe to be “cool.” Because teens, like everyone else, want to be liked and accepted, their innocence and naïveté prompts many of them to succumb partially or wholly to the standards and choices of others in order to remain “free” from the prisons and cages of their peers, the intimidating, corporate “they.” And I was just as guilty of that as anyone else until one night, years and years later, in the middle of a very emotionally and physically painful night, it dawned on me that though there was no one there in the darkness to help me cope, to soothe me, or to stop the pain. And that was the mid-life game changer that motivated me to walk back far enough through time to remember who Natalie genuinely was, to embrace her, and to walk into the future as the Natalie I was meant to be. A subsequent choice I made was not to let what had broken me define who Natalie was and is but instead with God’s grace to find my inner light and let it shine even if at times it yet has to break forth through tears.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. ~Brené Brown

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden…” ~Matthew 5:14  ✝

**Collage of developing ages in Natalie’s life gathered and put in chronological order by Natalie

1262. “Oh! ‘darkly, deeply, beautifully blue,’ / As someone somewhere sings about the sky.” ~Lord Byron

“What is blue?” asked a child, so very small
To which a man answered, “Blue is a lot of
things of which I’ll tell you a few, but not all.”
“Blue is the ocean, the rivers and streams.”
“Blue is the “splish splash” of water, |
which in sunlight glistens and gleams.”
“Blue is the flavorful taste of seafood cuisine
made from crabs or lobsters or shrimp
found beneath the deep blue sea.”
“Blue is the delicious aroma of blueberry pie.”
“Blue is the immense, infinite sky.”

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The child delighted, then cried thanks and ran away,
while the man was left there brooding
over the things about blue he’d just said,
for he knew that though what he’d said was true
there is more than joy when it comes to blue.
Blue can also describe the feeling a person gets
when he or she is left feeling dejected and sad.
Blue, too, can express grievous sorrow
that engulfs a person and causes him or her to frown.
And blue can be used to articulate misery and pain
or the dreariness of a day in which it may rain.

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But then another man who’d heard
what the first one had added, pondered those words
within his head because he knew that blue wasn’t
always quite as bad and gloomy as all that.
For blue can also describe a type of a music.
Blue when called the blues is a wonderful noise
that flows from the soul and out through the voice
or the piano, the saxophone, the trumpet, and the bass.
Such likable blues tug at the heart of people worldwide
for they have a way of healing depression and shame.
So you see without blue, the world as we know it,
could and would never be, entirely the same.
~Edited and adapted poem
by E. A. Costa

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“Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, 32 with an opening for the head in its center…” ~Exodus 28: 31-32  ✝

**Blue columbine, blue clock vine; blue morning glory, all from my yard

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

1157. To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself
the means of inspiration and survival.
~Winston Churchil

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One of my favorite quotes is by G.K. Chesterton: “Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.” Decades ago when I was going through a particularly dark and difficult time, I spent 8 months in the weekly care and tutelage of a healing mentor who after spending an hour with me on the first visit, asked this question, “If you were a 4 year old child what would you want to do right now?” Since it had been a long day at work and I was tired and a bit hungry, I said, “Get a chocolate ice cream cone.” Subsequently she asked me if I knew where to get one and when I said yes, she stood up and declared, “Good, I want you to do that today and every time we finish our work here.” Though dumbfounded by such an unexpected and odd request, I followed the doctor’s orders and eventually came to know the reason behind it.

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The child we once were didn’t die. He/she is still alive and well somewhere inside all the years of growing and becoming an adult. And like any sentient being our inner child is still able to perceive and feel things. Thus he/she needs to be fed and nurtured and stimulated. And part of my problem back then was that my inner child was and had been for some time apparently starving to death. I know to some of you that may sound silly or absurd, but becoming aware of that and learning how to take care of little Natalie Holcomb has brought great healing to grown-up Natalie Scarberry. And so it is that when the day by day grind of pain and the day after day accounts of doom and gloom on the world’s stage begin to break me that I find ways to feed and delight my inner child on a grander scale. Besides finding way to do that in the glory of my garden, I often come by it as well in humor and the stories I adored in childhood. Thus all the silliness on my blog today. It was simply time to throw off the suffering and heaviness and darkness of this fallen world and time to talk of unicorns and white rabbits and good faeries and such. Ergo as Chesterton said, the saving of my soul and my life is underway one again. Yay team!

…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ~Excerpted line from Romans 5:3-4  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

1120. It is only when we are aware of the earth and of the earth as poetry that we truly live. ~Henry Beston

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense
of wonder without any such gift from the fairies,
he needs the companionship of at least
one adult who can share it,
rediscovering with him the joy, excitement,
and mystery of the world we live in.
~Rachel Carson

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The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.  Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth.  The birds that flew into the air came to rest upon the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing. ~Chief Luther Standing Bear

It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine. ~Ezekiel 17:8  ✝

**All images are photographs of spring’s offerings from my yard

1011. It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. ~Charles Dickens

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys,
showing that nothing else in life need be taken seriously,
and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one
of the few occasions in which men become entirely alive.
~Robert Lynd

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Life grew very hard for me in my late 30‘s, and the difficulties spilled over well into my forties. As a result I was becoming more and more cynical about “life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those circumstances were made worse by the 20 year derailment in my faith journey and both were aiding and abetting a steady, downward spiral into the “black abyss” of hopelessness. So my doctor recommended that I go see a counselor, and I did, but reluctantly at first. Though it wasn’t long before I warmed to her, it took a while longer before I started really opening up about the burdensome issues that had brought me to her door. Then one afternoon as the session was about to end, she said, “I want you to imagine that you are a 4 year old child.” I replied, “Okay,” and then she asked, “If you were that 4 year old, what would want to do right this very minute?” Without too much consideration, I blurted out, “go get a chocolate ice-cream cone.” After hearing my response she immediately stood up, smiled, and said, “All right. I shall see you next week and TODAY on the way home I want you to stop and have a chocolate ice cream cone.” When I started to ask why, she quickly replied, “Just do it. I’ll explain next time.” So I stopped and got the chocolate ice cream cone, and I do have to say that it might possibly have been the very best ice cream cone I’ve ever had. The point was and is that the child in all of us doesn’t die. It’s simply that the accumulating years of growing and changing cover over him or her as happens with a path no longer traveled. And so it was that miraculously after clearing the way with one weekly ice cream cone after the other, the healing of my brokenness got under way, the getting back on track with my faith journey got under way, and the nourishing of my starving inner child, who was essential in restoring joy, hopefulness, and a sense of wonder, also got under way. Praise the Lord!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” ~Luke 2:10  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

994. Give me the end of the year an’ its fun when most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done… ~Edgar A. Guest

December finds himself again a child
Even as he undergoes his age.
Cold and early darkness now descends,
Embracing sanctuaries of delight.
~Nicholas Gordon

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Why do we feel restored in December
As in a sacramental time and place?
Therein Mystery is artfulness,
And therein too a vision of peace is stored,
So that healing flows from it through our eyes.
~Edited and adapted excerpt
from May Sarton

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As the year draws to an end and winter and Christmas approach, “Shall we liken what has and is coming to pass to the web in a loom?  There have been and still are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our attempt at understanding.” ~Edited & adapted excerpt  by Earl W. Count

…the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. ~Numbers 6:26   ✝

**Both images via Pinterest