1150. Sow the living part of yourselves in the furrow of life. ~Miguel de Unamuno

Two years ago, I was saying as I
planted seeds in the garden,
“I must believe in these seeds,
that they fall into the earth and grow
into flowers and radishes and beans.”
It is a miracle to me because
I do not understand it.  The very fact
that they use glib technical phrases to
describe the process does not make it any
less a miracle, and a miracle we all accept.
Then why not accept God’s miracles?
~Edited lines by Dorothy Day

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 9.14.47 PM.png

Part of the genius of God’s miracles and grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and His vitality that has been stored in the seeds of our being, seeds that possess the same strength as that of the rising sun, earth’s swelling seas, and its fertile plains. An excellent time to look for the shining of His everlasting light in the “sanctuary of the soul” is in the first waking moments of each new day. That inward realm is where doors open to the germination of new life because inside each one of us the Lord has planted His “seeds of greatness.” There’s never a moment in life when either in and of ourselves or in the people around us that there are not yet unopened gifts of promise. Simply put, “heaven’s creativity on earth” is born in our bodies, and therein the Master’s “sacred hopes” are hidden. His hopes can come to fruition through the germination of our gifts and through the catalyst of prayer when we lift up “the agonies of life in the world” and ask for grace where “the human soul has grown hard” and lost sight of God’s light.

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. ~Psalm 77:14 ✝

**Image of Lotus pod with sseeds via Pinterest

1296. I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

The moment that a child can walk,
like that in which it first can talk,
is a precious start of exploration into landscapes of creation.
Walking, walking, walking, walking, walking on the earth.
By sense of touch the feet assess
the nature of the wilderness
of earth beneath;
yet human speech cannot express
what feet can teach.
Walking, walking, walking, walking,
walking on the earth.
~Francis D. Hole

Screen Shot 2016-11-12 at 5.43.48 PM.png

The ancient Hebrew association of man with soil is echoed in the Latin name for man, homo, derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil. This powerful metaphor suggests an early realization of a profound truth that humanity has since disregarded to its own detriment. Since the words “humility” and “humble” also derive from humus, it is rather ironic that we should have assigned our species so arrogant a name as Homo sapiens sapiens (“wise wise man”). It occurs to me, as I ponder our past and future relation to the earth, that we might consider changing our name to a more modest Homo sapiens curans, with the word curans denoting caring or caretaking, as in “curator.” (“Teach us to care” was T.S. Eliot’s poetic plea.) Of course, we must work to deserve the new name, even as we have not deserved the old one. ~Daniel Hillel, Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil

My feet have closely followed His(God’s) steps; I have kept to His(God’s) way without turning aside. ~Job 23:11 ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1171. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival…
Treat each guest honorably.
Be grateful for whoever comes.
~Rumi

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 9.44.27 PM.png

Even in seemingly dormant times, we are in transition. Losses and gains are in constant play. We are the change-agent, and we are changed. Even without toil, we transform. So, wisdom advises us to open our hearts to transition; to honor fully what is passing, to learn from all that unfolds, and to welcome what arrives at our door each day with courage and curiosity. ~A Network for Grateful Living

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 of lily taken by me in my yard today. Outer edges deliberately blurred so that focus is on the amazing stamen and anthers.

1121. I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. ~Phyllis Theroux

My extravagance is my garden –
it’s the first thing I look at
every morning when I wake up.
It gives me so much pleasure.
~Ina Garten

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 6.31.26 PM.png

According to Margaret Atwood, “Gardening is not a rational act.” And though I like to think of myself as a fairly rational person most of the time, I’m given from time to time, like most folks, to a little irrationality especially in the garden. So here goes today’s saga about my most recent fall from rational grace, as it were. The only thing I needed at the nursery was a bag of planting mix, but as always I wanted to stroll up and down the rows and rows of flowers before making my purchase. The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing white clematis with its chocolate colored anthers. As I stood admiring it, I kept saying to myself, “No, Natalie, you do NOT need to buy another plant.” So even though I’ve grown very fond of clematis, I walked away with great resolve to resist the urge to buy anything and went on down the way to look at the roses. Of course there were some gorgeous varieties of those too, but I told myself that I didn’t need those either and then headed back to the front to check out. On the way, as chance would have it, I heard someone call my name and when I turned to see who it was, my next door neighbor was standing right next to the pots of those white clematis. Nevertheless, I went ahead and walked on over to chat with her for a few minutes, and then I turned resolvedly to walk away. That was when I could swear I heard the white clematis speaking to me and saying, “you’ll regret it if you don’t come back and take me home.” And darn it, I knew I would. So I walked back one more time to see how much it was and read the information about it hoping that either or both would deter me. Despite the fact that it was a little pricey however, how could anyone walk away from anything described with the word chocolate for heaven’s sake. Okay! Okay! I’ll admit it! I’m a bonafide, pocketbook-carrying, irrational flower “junkie!” So shoot me! But I’m really not extravagant about anything except my garden-not jewelry, not clothes, not shoes, not cars, nothing but my pretty flowers. And ya know, I don’t regret it for one second. I worked hard and for long hours for nearly 40 years; I’m in my 70’s, I’ve survived a stroke; so I guess I can live with an occasional lack of restraint. With what years I have left, I think I deserve my one and only extravagance perhaps because it is as Theroux said, “it is the closest I’ll ever come to being present at creation.” And oh how I would have loved to have been there and witnessed that!

The human soul is hungry for beauty;
we seek it everywhere – in landscape,
music, art, clothes, furniture,
gardening, companionship, love,
religion, and in ourselves.
When we experience the beautiful,
there is a sense of homecoming.
~John O’Donohue

The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the juniper equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches—no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. ~Ezekiel 8-9  ✝

1054. This is the first, the wildest, and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness. ~Mary Oliver

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.46.33 PM.png

“Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. I learned about these qualities during my bouts with depression. In that deadly darkness, the faculties I had always depended on collapsed. My intellect was useless; my emotions were dead; my will was impotent; my ego was shattered. But from time to time, deep in the thickets of my inner wilderness, I could sense the presence of something that knew how to stay alive even when the rest of me wanted to die. That something was my tough and tenacious soul.” ~Parker Palmer

From studying the way the word soul is used in Holy Writ, we can come to some conclusions. Simply stated, the human soul is the part of a person that is not physical. It is the part of every human being that lasts eternally after the body experiences death.

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. ~Proverbs 2:10  ✝

**Ethereal image via Pinterest

1040. It’s not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

The human spirit needs
places where nature
has not been rearranged
by the hand of man.
~Author Unknown

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.42.33 PM.png

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body’s world,
instinct

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is —

so it enters us —
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.
~Poem by Mary Oliver

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering the waters. ~Genesis 1:2  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

 

937. The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. ~Albert Einstein

If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude,
everything that you need to know will be revealed to you.
~John O’Donohue

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.48.56 PM

Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves; that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

He(Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” ~Mark 6:31  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

778. It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters. ~Evander Holyfield

The human heart feels things
the eyes cannot see
and knows what the mind
cannot understand.
~Robert Valett

Screen shot 2015-06-21 at 2.06.49 PM

Hearts, hearts, hearts
What great miracles they are–
Intentions that beat, unexplained parts
Of deepest desires, holding dreams and scars.

Hearts they say, “the size of your palms”
And racing away, in unfamiliar tracks,
Searching and chasing they travel
Ticking away even when the mind is at rest.
~Edited and adapted excerpt from a poem
by an Unknown Author

Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ~Deuteronomy 6:5  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

769. It takes a whole village to raise a child. ~Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb

Everyone in the family participates especially
the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins.
It is not unusual for children to stay for long periods with
their grandparents or aunts or uncles.
Even the wider community gets involved
such as neighbors and friends.
Children are considered a blessing
from God for the whole community.
~Edited excerpt
by Rev. Joseph G. Healey

Screen shot 2015-06-12 at 3.46.11 PM

The ancient human social construct that once was common in this land was called community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Mumbai. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs. In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community. ~by Barbara Kingsolver

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12   ✝

**Images via Pinterest, collage created by Natalie

761. It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong. ~John Cheever

The best laid plans of
mice and men often go awry…
~Robert Burns

Screen shot 2015-06-06 at 7.24.50 PM

James and I married on August 17th, 1963, two months before my 21st birthday, but Mom agreed to go ahead and pay for my last year of college. We didn’t have have a dime to our name, not even enough for a honeymoon, but we were happy and hopeful. James had been in graduate school, but he dropped out to get a job while I finished my last year. Since James’ expertise was chemistry, he got a job doing research at a local blood bank. Sadly though our “best laid plans went awry” on “a splendid morning that seemed like nothing could go wrong” in September. It was Labor Day weekend right before my first semester began when James became quite ill. He was running a high fever, he was jaundiced, and his bilirubin count was way too high; so the doctor sent him to the hospital immediately to run more tests, tests that indicated James may have either gotten into some kind of poison or had been infected with hepatitis from handling a tainted blood sample at work. Consequently he had to be hospitalized and quarantined for the next two weeks, and everyone who had been in contact with him had to have painful hemoglobin shots. After his stay in the hospital, he wasn’t allowed to return to work for another month. All the while, I was taking care of him and keeping up with my school work, but needless to say, we were now going deep into a hole financially. But we pressed on ever hopeful that this setback would not last forever, and I completed my first semester. However, it seems there was to be a double whammy of woes for the newlyweds! As happens sometimes with hepatitis, James had a relapse in January and had to be hospitalized again for a week and off work for another month which dug our debt hole even deeper. By the time our first year of marriage ended and I graduated I had no other choice but to put any dreams of Paris on hold and to find work as soon as possible. Since I couldn’t secure a teaching job right away, I took a secretarial job which is what I had done all four years in college while working for the Dean of Women. Because of my considerable skills and education, I began moving up into supervisory positions, and so for awhile I continued working at that company so we could whittle away at the hospital and doctor bills. The human spirit can endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? ~Proverbs 18:14  ✝

**Upper right hand photo of Les Invalides found on Pinterest