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

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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  ✝

1042. Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents
And as silently steal away.
~Edited lines by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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In January, as winter begins to deepen, the rhythms that “wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life” grow faint, as if whispered. However, when nature’s earthly notes are muffled by icy gales, heavy frosts, or falling snow, the “echo of the spheres” overheard remains audible. And on the less chilly days, the ones between cold fronts, bits and pieces of tender, albeit potent, harmonies often continue to rise. Today, for example, I spotted the tiny tips of hyacinth bulbs breaking the cold, hard ground, and as if escaping through the tiny fissures the bulbs had created, Eden’s heartbeat jumped up another fraction of a decibel. Even on the really, really forbiddingly cold days, within the sounds of silence, there are pauses, ripe and pregnant, that are as eloquent as notes and lyrics. For it is in those rests and pauses that can be heard dulcet sounds, soothing honeyed ones which are recognized not by the ears, but by the soul. And although it has been said that trees and flowers grow in utter silence while the sun, the moon, and the stars above our heads do the same, I’m not sure that’s true. I contend that on any  given day of the year if one listens with a hunger in the heart and a thirst in the soul, the footfalls of God can yet be ascertained upon the sacred soil of Creation and His voice which spoke everything into being can still be heard echoing amid the orbs of the firmament. That’s why if one stills him or herself and earnestly seeks Yahweh’s face, it can be made out even winter’s inhospitable bleakness. And after it’s glimpsed, one’s ears can also discern the sweet, sweet sounds of the Father’s loving utterances as He calls out to His beloved children.

The music is not in the notes,
but in the silence in between.
~Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… ~Excerpt from Genesis 3:8 ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

932. How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

To forget how to dig the earth and
to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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There is something incredibly engaging and comforting about a garden, especially when one is surprised this late in the year by a find as lovely as this Heavenly Blue morning glory. However, even long after she’s gone when winter has plunged us into its “vale of grief,” there will yet be signs that point to primeval and sacred origins, ordained recurring seasons, and our connection to the Holy Breath of the Creator. But today it was the brilliance of the autumn morn, the splendor and blueness of the blossom, and a gentle breeze blowing in my face from time to time that prompted an awareness of the in and out movement of God’s life-giving breath in me as well as cognizance of a sacramental connection to Him. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest, said, “There is a communion with God, and there is a communion with earth, and there is a communion with God through the earth.” Teilhard de Chardin contended that the more he devoted himself in some way to the interests of the earth the more he belonged to God. It is the same for me. Being close to the earth in my garden or taking photographs of its progeny and/or nature in general, is like being attached to an umbilical cord that keeps me forever tethered to the Divine Source of all life, and therefore through it comes the spiritual nourishment that feeds my hungry soul.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. ~Psalm 24:1-2  ✝

904. Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ~May Sarton

    Gardening time is time that involves itself in the moment,
that focuses on the soaring stateliness of trees and
the minute scale of the tiniest blossom.

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The time that began in a garden is the kind of time I go to my garden to find again. It’s the time the way God created it: as a servant and not a master.

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This kind of time is a container for worthwhile work, a resource for creating the beautiful and feeding the hungry and growing soul. It is measured in drifting or purposeful hours, in day and then night and then day again, in slowly rolling seasons, each with its special purpose under heaven.

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Garden time required daily attention but does not require that everything be done in a day. I go to my garden to rediscover that kind of time. And I have to take time out from the other kind of time to discover it.

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It’s great to get away from the rat race, the conveyor belt, the traffic jam, to be renewed and refreshed in the company of growing things; it feels like a day in the country. ~All pasages by Emilie Barnes

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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  ✝

**A friend and fellow blogger asked me to post pictures of my garden. And so I spent some time looking through old photos this afternoon. But here’s the thing, my “garden” is actually in flower beds all around the house and along the fences. The largest portion may be in the backyard, but it is separated by other beds and sections of the yard so finding a photo the covered it all quickly became an insurmountable problem. Then I also realized that what might be blooming in some photos is not blooming later in the year. So it really is a moveable feast as it were, and now it is waning rapidly, not so much because the temperatures have lowered all that much but because we haven’t gotten rain in months. So I’ve already started cutting down spent perennials, pruning roses, and pulling down vines that have nearly bloomed out. Sadly right now there is only a smattering of things worth seeing, and it’s hasn’t even gotten cool enough for any leaves to start turning their lovely colors. There are only the dead and brown ones from the heat and lack of rain. However, I did go back and found some pictures that give an idea of the splendor around here at times.  Another thing, look at the white trellis in the third photo; it is now completely covered with spent autumn clematis vines and morning glory vines that are both waning fast. In the last photo, the black round trellis in front of the metal sunflower is also covered in waning morning glories. So the garden really does alter its appearance from month to month and season to season as some things perish and new things are planted. A garden at any given moment is just a work in progress.

894. Surround yourself with people who make you hungry for life, touch your heart, and nourish your soul. ~Unknown

Be soft.
Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pleasure that even though the rest of the world 
may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
~Edited excerpt by Kurt Vonnegut

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I am human.
My feelings get hurt.
My heart aches.
I cry.
I pray.
I feel sorry for myself.
I get angry.
I make mistakes.
I love.
I admire.
I adore.
I give.
I give more.
I make mistakes.
I pray.
~Edited Unknown

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And then the day came
when the risk to remain tight
in the bud was more painful than
the risk it took to blossom.
~Edited excerpt by
Anais Nin

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:8  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

814. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and that can grow brave by reflection. ~Thomas Paine

Refuse to fall down
If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled.
The one who says nothing good comes of such as this,
is not yet listening.
~Edited excerpt
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

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So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10  ✝

**Photos I took in Paris when we went to see Napoleon’s Tomb at Les Invaides…

382. It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet. ~Kojiro Tomita.

I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order
to make something grow; to interact with nature;
to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark.
Through gardening, we feel whole as we make
our personal work of art upon our land.
~Julie Moir Messervy

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Blessings For Artists At The Start Of The Day by John O’Donohue

May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings, and fixed fortress corners, a morning
When you become a pure vessel for what wants to ascend from silence.

May your imagination know the grace of perfect danger,
To reach beyond imitation, and the wheel of repetition,
Deep into the call of all the unfinished and unsolved.
Until the veil of the unknown yields and something original
Begins to stir toward your senses and grow stronger in your heart
In order to come to birth in a clean line of form, that claims from time
A rhythm not yet heard, that calls space to a different shape.

May it be its own force field and dwell uniquely
Between the heart and the light to surprise the hungry eye…

Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence. ~Psalm 21:6   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!