1439. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways… ~Psalm 91:11 ✝

May all the Angels be your
sheltering and joyful guardians.
~John O’Donohue

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Who among us doesn’t remember times when we felt the hand of benevolent angels at work in our lives? My guess is we all migjht be able to acknowledge them. The word angel comes from the Greek word “angelus” which means messenger, and among other things, Biblical angels as messengers not only revealed helpful/vital information to mortals but they also protected and rescued them. Also in Scripture we find angels caring for the Israelites and smiting their enemies. And of course they were the guiding presence leading the wise men to the manger where the  Jesus, the Messiah, was born. So it is that one writer has described angels as a “medium of the Creator’s power, and they exist to execute His will.” And because angelic presences have been so prevalent in man’s history over the centuries, mortals have in various ways tried to portray angels by word and/or image.

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. ~Psalm 148:2 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

1438. We look into the reverse end of the kaleidoscope of human events and see, mostly, confusion and discord; while God beholds harmony from the divine end. ~James Lendall Basford

We hear the beating
of wings over Bethlehem
and a light that is not of the sun
or of the stars shines in the midnight sky.
The message of Christmas is that
the material world is bound to
the invisible spiritual world.
~Author Unknown

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The dictionary defines relationship as a connection to or an involvement with another, and what happened in a Bethlehem manger over 2,000 years ago was the Breath of Heaven reaching out to touch and begin a relationship with the material world. Christmas then is not an event; it is instead the beginning of a relationship. What God gave the world in the beginning was physical light, but it was His son, the Messiah, who brought salvation and the spiritual light that illuminates the face of God and opens the door to an intimate involvement with Him. To achieve that divine destiny Jesus came into our world, walked among us, and left a continuing legacy of ways to remain connected to and in relationship with the Creator. That relationship can only come into its fullness by walking with the Creator, talking with Him, and devoting time to the Lover of our souls. It’s like when a man or woman marry. They don’t just celebrate and spend time with each other on that one day of the year. It has to be a day to day, minute to minute commitment if the relationship is to grow and blossom into greater goodness.

When I saw others straining toward God,
I did not understand it, for though,
I may have had Him less than they did,
there was no one blocking the way
between Him and me,
and I could reach His heart easily.
It is up to Him, after all, to have us;
our part consists of almost solely
of letting Him grasp us.
~Ranier Maria Rilke

May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. ~1 Kings 8:57 ✝

**Inages found on the Internet; collage by Natalie

1435. Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Remember this. When people choose
to withdraw far from a fire,
the fire continues to give warmth,
but they grow cold.
When people choose to
withdraw
far from light,
the light continues 
to be bright in itself
but they are in darkness.
This is also the case when 
people
withdraw from God.
~Augustine

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Try as some may, purporting that life is “a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing” or that it’s merely the result of events that can be explained through science or reason falls terribly short of reality. Nothing in these assumptions explains the existence of or need for compassion, grace, love, or mercy. Nor do they explain the compulsion in the human heart for expressions of such. If mortals were simply intellectual beings, they’d not emote, express feelings, or commit loving acts that are seemingly inspired in some inscrutable place within their physical being. These things, like all happenings in Creation, are indeed symbolic narratives designed to teach or illustrate truths about the Ancient of Days who created and wired into humans the capacity to feel, express emotions, and extend kindnesses to one another. It’s also true, as Muggeridge suggests, that the Author of light and life wrote into the fabric of Creation parables for His children and that getting the gist of them is an art, an art mastered not only by looking carefully at the apparent and outward realities of Creation but also by peering into its inward and inner realities. The sacred isn’t merely above us but forever within us and the entire body of Creation. Discovering the sacrosanct in all that Yahweh made can’t help but stir in the descendants of Adam a sense of connection and belonging to a higher Power. The resources and bounty of planet earth alone give us plenteous reasons to sense the presence of a Holy Benefactor and to feel His gracious, creative, and loving hands in our lives. What sparks a real desire within the human heart to seek Him is the “getting the message” within all the happenings of that which He has made. However, in case Creation’s parables are too puzzling, over 2,000 years ago God expanded the narrative and clearly revealed Himself when He sent His Son to be our Savior. Jesus is our memory, and in coming to offer us salvation, He reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. As we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth this weekend, I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. As a very familiar yuletide song says, “O come let us adore Him!” And as we do, I pray that we create a compelling testimony to others of the Lord’s very real presence in our midst.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**Image via the Internet

1430. I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world. ~Mary Oliver

The universe is full of radiant
suggestion…over and over in the butterfly
we see the idea of transcendence.
In the forest we see not the inert
but the aspiring. In water that departs forever
and forever returns, we experience eternity.
~Mary Oliver

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Is there some “voice” you turn to when your heart and soul needs a spark, something to satiate a vague longing, or to get your creative juices flowing, or something to make you feel acutely alive, or when you need some wise rumination or conjecture that transcends the routine and the mundane commentaries. I know that Scripture and the teachings of Jesus can do that, but as a mortal human being, I also need the take on such things from other mortal humans. I need wise musings by kindred spirits who voice things that comfort me and help me feel less alone and isolated. I know, I know; I have a loving husband and a loving family and friends, but don’t you ever long for someone who knows you better than anyone else deep down inside in those places you, seldom if ever, bring to the surface. You know, the things that touch you profoundly and you’re not entirely sure why or where it comes from, and you need another’s thoughts to help you understand what you feel and how intensely you feel it. I’ve never been anything except a daughter, a wife, and a mother, but there is a Natalie way down in there that I’m not sure I could put into words so that they could understand how or what it feels like to be the me of me, not the one who has always tried to live up to the expectations of others, but the one who has always wondered what it would have been like to strike out on her own and follow her own dreams. This is not a complaint for I have been truly blessed all my life. Nor does it mean that I’ve never faced great sorrow or loss or coped with chronic pain. Everyone has “crosses to bear,” but we don’t have to let such things define and/or decide who we are! Perhaps that’s why literature has always been a great source of illumination for me because I believe writer’s are always digging down into that same kind of well and attempting to bring to the surface what they find therein.

The most regretful people on earth
are those who felt the call to creative work,
who felt their own creative power
restive and uprising, and gave to it
neither power no time.
~Mary Oliver

Many writers fit the bill that I described above, and I quote them frequently, but it has only been in the last few years that I have found my forever go-to first person for such things. This remarkable woman is a modern-day, living poet, and I have bought to date everything she has published for I don’t think I’ve ever read works by another that touch me the way she does and explain what I feel inside any better than she. I have shared some of her works before as well as in this post, and in the coming days I’m going to post quite a few more for I’ve been “hungry” again of late and as always have found “nourishing food” in her words. I hope you to enjoy her musings and offerings.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a
hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal
of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours,
and I will tell you mine.
~Mary Oliver

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~James 1:5  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1419. Your heart, and its Creator, have loved you since the beginning. ~ Nayyirah Waheed

If you didn’t grow up like I did
then you don’t know, and if you
don’t know it’s probably better
you don’t judge.
~Junot Diaz

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…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— ~Proverbs 1:15

**Title quote and poem edited and adapted by Natalie
***Image found on Pinterest

1415. Imagination is the soul’s happiest retreat. ~James Lendall Basford

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health,
and quiet breathing.
~John Keats

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The human body needs one kind of nourishment, while the spirit needs to be fed in other ways. One of the needs of the spirit is beauty, and nature’s vast array of beauty has a way of strengthening and healing body and soul. Creation is a place to “play in and pray in,” and when we spend time in earth’s sanctuaries, we gain a better perspective of what’s really important as our senses are heightened and ordered. Rachel Carson alleged that “those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” and as Keats said, our breathing becomes quieter in such places. Quieted and slow breathing does indeed promote a sense of well being and induce a healthy state of mind. Also, when we are alone with the Lord in any of nature’s settings, it is easy to feel His presence. More importantly if we listen carefully when in the midst of the natural world’s profound silences, we can hear Him speak to us.

God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds–
and I think that He has made them partly as a
balance for that kind of civilization that would
choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts.
He made the great open places for people who want
to be away from the crowds that kill all reverence.
And I think He is glad at times to have us forget our cares
and responsibilities so that we may be nearer Him–
as Jesus was when He crept away into the wilderness to pray.
~Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

 

1414. In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. ~Aaron Rose

For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right,
since its appearance changes at every moment;
but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life –
the light and the air which vary continually.
For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere
which gives subjects their true value.
~Claude Monet

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All things in the natural world drink in sunlight, and they are affected by it a number of ways. When the sun’s warmth touches skin, it creates a pleasant sensation. On cold days that pleasurable feeling seems to sink down into the depths of human flesh; deeper and deeper it settles until it reaches places normally untouched by sunlight. Flesh and spirit drink in other light too. They take in “the light of God and energy itself” so that in an often cold and lonely, dark world the inner flame of our sacred origin keeps the glow of the eternal alive.

In the temple of my inner being,
in the temple of my body,
in the temple of earth, sea, and sky,
in the great temple of the universe
I look for the light that was in the beginning,
the mighty fire that blazes still from the heart of life,
glowing in the whiteness of the moon,
glistening in night stars,
hidden in the black earth,
concealed in unknown depths of my soul.
In the darkness of the night,
in the shadow of my being, O God,
let me glimpse the eternal.
In both the light and the shadows of my being
let me glimpse the glow of the eternal.
From SOUNDS OF THE ETERNAL
by J. Philip Newell

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12 ✝

**Image via Pinterest