1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

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When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

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Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

955. My sun sets to rise again. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The sun does not shine for a few trees and
flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.
~Henry Ward Beecher

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Have you ever seen anything
in your life more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening, relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea, and is gone–
and how it slides again
out of the blackness, every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower streaming upward
on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early light,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt
for anything such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere,
in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure that fills you,
as the sun reaches out,
as it warms you as you stand there,
empty-handed–or have you too
turned from this world–
or have you too gone crazy
for power, for things?
~Mary Oliver

And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. ~Deuteronomy 4:19  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

729. 
Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Is there a green too green
Is there a wet too wet
In a land that has
suffered long, a drought.

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Is there a heaven too high
Is there a ground too low
In a world that has
suffered much, for a Savior

Is there a Father too loving
Is there a God too merciful
In a heart that has
suffered long, afflictions

Shake not your fists at the heavens
Shake not your fists at the world
Seek instead the One
who came to make a way for all
through the wilderness
through the darkness
through the confusion
through the suffering
~Natalie Scarberry

The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed in gladness. ~Psalms 65:12   ✝

684. God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.  ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Morning is the best
 of all times in the garden.
The sun is not yet hot.  
Sweet vapors rise from the earth.
Night dew clings to the soil 
and makes plants glisten.
Birds call to one another.  
Bees are already at work.
~William Longgood

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Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it’s a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.
~Pueblo Blessing

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ~Isaiah 55:12   ✝

615. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven. ~Harriet Tubman

The sun, with all those planets
revolving around it and dependent on it,
can still ripen a bunch of grapes
as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
~Galileo Galilei

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The Sun
Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?
~Mary Oliver

…May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills… ~Deuteronomy 33:13-15   ✝

** Image, “Sunlight” by Heather Reichard, via Pinterest

575. The view of the highway was so bad that you could not even see the next exit. The moment it loomed out of the mist it disappeared again, as if the world created itself and was blotted out again. ~Adapted excerpt from Janet Fitch

As on many mornings of late autumn,
there is an ever so sly fog –
water in it’s most mystical incarnation –
slithering over, around, and through,
making everything look ancient and unsolved.
~Edited and adapted excerpt
from Jaimal Yogis

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Foggy Day Haikus

Condensed water
lies low on the road like a
blanket from above

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Foggy dew drops hang
on withered, fading grasses
creating magic

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The cloudlike masses,
layers of minute droplets
make all hard to see

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Everywhere one goes
clouds on the ground insist we
must move slowly
~by Natalie Scarberry

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I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. ~Isaiah 24:2   ✝

** First image via Pinterest, all other photos taken by Natalie

532. Oh darkly, deeply, beautifully blue… ~Lord Byron

The touch of an infinite mystery
passes over the trivial and the familiar,
making it break out into ineffable music…
The trees, the stars, and the blue hills
ache with a meaning
which can never be uttered in words.
~Rabindranath Tagore

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The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water.

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Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue.

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The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance.

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This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue. ~Rebecca Solnit

In the eyes, windows to the soul, of some and even in the color of our unique, blue marble of a planet one comes upon the divine mystery that “can never be uttered in words” at the “edges and in the depths” of the “deeply, beautifully blue” of which Byron, Tagore, Solnit, and “Holy Writ” speak.

They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lamp-stand that is for light, together with is lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. ~Numbers 4:9   ✝

**Images via Pinterest