1191. Seasons of the heart…

Grief can be the garden of compassion.
If you keep your heart open through everything,
your pain can become your greatest ally
in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
~Rumi

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Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has
moistened with His own sacred tears.
~Kahlil Gibran

Then I would still have this consolation–my joy in unrelenting pain–that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.~Job 6:10   ✝️

1061. You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. ~Thomas Traherne


The voice of the sea
speaks to the soul.
The touch of the sea is sensuous,
enfolding the body 
in its soft,
close embrace.
~Kate Chopin

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I had to go. I just had to go down to the sea today if only through photographic memories. I haven’t been to the beach in so long, and it appears that I won’t get to go this year either, at least not for months and months. As a child, I was weaned and grew up on the beautiful, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and since then sand, shore, and sea have haunted me. Via sensory perceptions even as a young child I heard a voice, a clear voice-a familiar voice-a welcome voice-a sacred voice who reached down into the depths of my soul to touch me in ways that are still not easy to articulate. But here goes. Since the sea is always moving in its ceaselessness, I became aware of its cadenced rhythms early on. Day after day, night after night its undulations never stopped, and I found myself comforted by the sounds they created. Even when it was just along the shore and not out in a boat on the deep water, the songs of the sea continued to poignantly reverberate as they rolled in on the waves to the sandy shore. These were songs as primordial as the days and as ancient as the Holy One Himself who yet hovers over the waters, and when I sat quietly listening, waiting, and watching, I began to feel and internalize the pulsing rhythms of the sea while their songs filled up the space around me, its devout, hearkening witness. “Wild silences,” as haunting as the call of the gulls, were “heard” as well, and the elements of light and darkness affected and enhanced the ocean’s charms, chants, and silences as it enfolded me in its embrace. What’s more a lonely beach, devoid of crowds, also transports of delight to the magical, mystique of the sea. For it was then, and only then, that I was privy to the voices of the ocean’s more wistful “shy presences,” the ones with the subtle, emotive melodies.

If you look at the map in the collage you will see a blue marker where our house at 68 Prospect Avenue in Long Beach, California was. It was only a half a block from Ocean Boulevard, and once I crossed that busy street, all I had to do was take the stairs down from the seawall onto the sand. Between the houses on each street ran an alley way that you can see in one of the photos beneath the map. This passage way was one of my favorite places to travel as it was along those fences  that so many of the cherished, fragrant flowers grew, and in the distance you can actually see the ocean.

The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. ~Psalm 93:3  ✝

**Images via Pinterest and Safari; collage created by Natalie

925. The earth has music for those who listen. ~William Shakespeare

Inside the silence between
your 
heartbeats hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Listen.
Quiet the voices and noise around you.
Honor the Holy One calling you!
~Author Unknown

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I perceive the universe as a cosmic temple and planet earth as a sanctuary in that temple. Although not given the power of speech as such therein, rain and other weather-related phenomena exhibit distinctive voices in and under the heavens. And as these things fall from earth’s chaotic atmosphere, they often blend their unique voices with other holy sounds in the natural world. In that sacred chorus is a call for humanity to seek the Maker of the temple because God not only hardwired man with a desire to connect with other human beings but also with a  longing to seek and connect with Him. Thus to that end man was given eyes to witness the sacraments of heaven and earth, ears to hear the chants of their hallowed voices, intellect to question and understand to some extent what is seen and heard, and a heart that in due time turns from irreverence to deep longing.  Tecumseh, a leader of the Shawnee, said, “Nature is so powerful, so strong.  Capturing the essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the rain in its weather.  It takes you to a place within yourself.” And so after the 11 inches of magical, mystical rain that we’ve had in the last week, I’m a’listenin’ and doin’ little jigs all over the place.

…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— ~Proverbs 1:5  ✝

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732. Poor dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprises! ~Wallace Stevens

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise; whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy, it will open a new place in our hearts… ~Henri Nouwen

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Some time back in March, I was standing in line at Lowe’s to check out when I looked over and saw a small packet of Peruvian Daffodil bulbs. Since I’d seen photos of these flowers before, I knew they were amazingly beautiful and was tempted to give them a try. However, never having had much luck with yellow daffodils, I wasn’t sure they would do any better with these especially as late as I was going to get them in the ground. But then I thought, as I often do these days, what the heck and bought them anyway. When I got home I had some Dahlias I was going try in pots and so I threw the Peruvian Daffodils in a pot too and set all 5 pots in places around the yard. After a couple of weeks, foliage began to appear. However, by that time it seems, I’d forgotten what was in that fifth pot. And then last week long stalks holding the blooms shot up from the strappy foliage, which I’d already been intrigued about making me even more curious about what in the world was growing in that pot. Curiouser and curiouser I grew, until…the lengthy “brain burp” ended, a vague memory of the incident at Lowe’s surfaced, and a bloom finally opened up. Oh, how I love surprises!!! And none better than exquisitely gorgeous ones in the garden! But now the surprise is raising conundrums.  For example, I’m wondering if they’ll make it in the pot through the long hot summer and on into autumn and winter? Or should I put them in the ground when they’re finished blooming? And if I do that, will they make it in the ground during summer, autumn, and winter? Or should I take the bulbs out of the pot when they’ve finished blooming, let them dry, and store them until next year when I can repot them? My oh my oh my, perhaps it’s time to look for the yellow brick road so I can go ask the Wizard of Oz or follow the white rabbit down the hole, like Alice did, and see if he has any answers or check to see if Einstein had any ideas about such things or should I just ask the Holy One whose hands made all there is? That’s it! That’s always a good idea, just like Paris is! Oh yes, my friends, our trip to Paris is getting closer and closer!

PS.  The little bug on one of the yellow anthers seems to like the surprise too!

He(God) will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. ~Job 8:21    ✝

724. Earth, thou great footstool of our God, who reigns on high; thou fruitful source of all our raiment, life, and food; our house, our parent, and our nurse. ~Isaac Watts

So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil
of this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world is made,
and the stars that blaze in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge we bear.
~Jan Richardson

“Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this… ~Job 12:7-9    ✝

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645. And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, new created. ~D. H. Lawrence

In slumber we fall into the deep, silent waters of consciousness, and then something, somewhere beneath the surface stirs us back to wakefulness. The same thing is happening now in my slumbering, wintry garden. A divine force or spark is stirring life back into seemingly lifelessness.

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A spark.  A flame.  A fire. A seed.  A plant.  A flower.  An egg.  An embryo.  A life. What is it that stirs matter and spirit?  What is it that stirs us?  What moves us?  What is it that makes life taste bitter or sweet upon the tongue?  What things do we feel that can’t quite be put into words?

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The following poem was written by Wallace Stevens. In it, his is the voice of questioning meant to refute religion/Christianity, and yet his images are the kinds of things that stir me in the opposite direction by rousing and impassioning my faith and belief in Christ. So it seems to me that Stevens, even in his attempt at denial, was himself somehow stirred by things in nature not wholly of this world, And I also have to wonder what exactly he thinks a soul is? Is not the soul that which connects mortal man to the Holy One who made us? Isn’t it the piece of God in us?

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Sunday Morning

What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul.
~Wallace Stevens

For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. ~Job 33:14-16   ✝

564. I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Autumn is the eternal corrective.
It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.
What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop
and fail to see the span of his world
and the meaning of the rolling hills
t
hat reach to the far horizon?
~Hal Borland

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Nature reveals intimations of its Maker in so many ways. It can even mask disturbing realities in this fallen world so that in the remaining clarity one can gain a better perspective of the bigger picture. The exact beginning and end of nature’s seasons, like the seasons of our lives, come and go shrouded to some extent in veils of mystery. And we can never really be sure of the exact moment in time that the spark of change ignites. Nor do we know when the remaining ember of that initial spark will die, but the time and space between beginnings and endings, like autumn, ripen life with more than enough breadth and depth and distance and color. For example it was over 80 degrees here today and although I did not “waste anything as precious as autumn’s sunshine,” I know November’s door will close at midnight and the winter solstice is only 3 weeks away. But I also know there’s no guarantee that the solstice will mark the exact end of lovely autumnesque realities. The weather forecast may say that an arctic norther will start blowing in here in the wee hours of the morning and plummet our temperatures to below freezing by tomorrow night. But the same forecast also shows that a day later we’ll be on the climb right back up to the warmer ripeness and color that is quintessentially autumn. So who knows? Is this cold snap the beginning of the end or will it be the next one or the one after that? There may be many things we cannot know in this life, and although it has been said that “life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” others perceive life as a different kind of tale. I, for one, find that standing outside in autumn, or any season for that matter, gives me glimpses of Yahweh, the Holy One, wrote the tale, who knows everything, who’s in control, and who has a plan, purpose, and time for all things under heaven.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~Ecclesiastes 3:11  ✝

**Image via Pinterest