1343. Sometimes we need to sink to the depths to know how to swim to the light. ~Julie Parker

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seeds
of your future happiness.
~Steve Maraboli

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If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. ~Psalm 116:8  ✝

**Image found on Pixabay

1323. I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect. ~Madeleine L’Engle

Perfectly imperfect…

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“We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives snowflakes a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take its own path. All of them are on the same journey, but each takes a different path. Along this gravity-driven journey, some snowflakes collide and damage each other, some collide and join together, some are influenced by wind…there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey. I find parallels in nature to be a beautiful reflection of grand orchestration. One of these parallels is of snowflakes and us. We, too, are all headed in the same direction. We are being driven by a universal force to the same destination. We are all individuals taking different journeys and along our journey, we sometimes bump into each other, we cross paths, we become altered…we take different physical forms. But at all times we too are 100% perfectly imperfect. At every given moment we are absolutely perfect for what is required for our journey. I’m not perfect for your journey and you’re not perfect for my journey, but I’m perfect for my journey and you’re perfect for your journey. We’re heading to the same place, we’re taking different routes, but we’re both exactly perfect the way we are. Think of what understanding this great orchestration could mean for relationships. Imagine interacting with others knowing that they too each share this parallel with the snowflake. Like you, they are headed to the same place and no matter what they may appear like to you, they have taken the perfect form for their journey. How strong our relationships would be if we could see and respect that we are all perfectly imperfect for our journey.” ~Edited passage by Steve Maraboli

…but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. ~1 Corinthians 13:10  ✝

**Macro photos of snowflakes via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1299. Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul. ~Isabel Allende

The mind I love most must have wild places,
a tangled orchard where dark damsons
drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood,
the chance of a snake or two, a pool that
nobody fathomed the depth of, and paths
threaded with flowers planted by the mind.
~Katherine Mansfield

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I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect. ~George R.R. Martin

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…my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. ~Excerpt from Psalm 45:1  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

1145. Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself. ~Saint Francis de Sales

 Patience is the
companion of wisdom.
~Augustine of Hippo

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~Colossians 3:12  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text box added by Natalie

1144. It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. ~Ursula Le Guin

One day at a time–this is enough.
Do not look back and grieve
over the past for it is gone;
and do not be troubled about
the future, for it has not yet come.
Live in the present, and make it so
beautiful that it’ll be worth remembering.
~Ida Scott Taylor

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The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know
what to do we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way
to go we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
~Wendell Berry

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. ~Excerpt from Deuteronomy 2:7  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1051. The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart in nature. To nurture a garden is to feed the soul. ~Edited quote by Alfred Austin

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.
My garden of flowers is also my garden of
thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely
as the flowers and the dreams are as beautiful.
~Abram L. Urban

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Once upon a time there was a tiny seed, a sacred and anointed seed, deposited deep down in a woman’s soul, though she wasn’t aware of its presence. The Creator of the seed had sowed it there long ago, but it wasn’t until she’d become despairingly broken and cynical about life that He set off a spark to split the seed’s casing. Thus an unexpected and silent impetus began within in her dark world where hope for happily ever after or even anything better had all but been extinguished. Her first awareness of the changing tide was vocalized one spring by the melodies coming from a songbird. It had been an especially painful night when she found herself lying there at dawn listening to the bird’s sweet song and feeling a vestige of joy beginning to whisper in her heart. Wanting to know what kind of bird, where it was, and why it was so cheerful, she arose before long and went outside. She found the winged minstrel perched in her neighbor’s tree, a dogwood that was filled with hundreds and hundreds of stunning pink blossoms. Thrilled by the sight of it her brain was flooded with memories of flowery images from her now distant childhood. And in that magical moment, though she’d always thought herself to be lacking a “green thumb,” she knew, knew that somehow she had to create that kind of natural beauty in her world again. Wanting to start prudently at first, however, she bought only a few pots, filled them with soil, pushed them together on a corner of her patio, and then sowed in them an assortment of inexpensive seeds. Soon afterwards came a most wondrous day, one in which she saw “that first, minuscule, curled, pale green wisp of a sprout poking up.” In an instant her heart felt unsurpassed gladness and her ears heard God’s voice speaking, for the seed in her had germinated as well. So it was that the credence of fairytales, in part, was restored, a devout gardener was birthed, and a faith journey was restarted.

For we are glad whenever we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. ~2 Corinthians 13:9  ✝

1039. Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan. ~Albert Schweitzer

Oh to relive
those Old Sundays,
those sacred things…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

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My faith journey began long ago at a time when I was young enough that all I knew was unmarred innocence, youthful unawareness, and blind acceptance of what I’d been told and taught. In handmade, starched and often white organdy dresses and on feet in meticulously polished white shoes I’d enter with my family, as I’d been taught, solemnly and quietly into church buildings with their tall steeples and large, sonorous bells that called the masses to worship. Inside there was the unmistakable aroma of old wooden pews, time-worn Bibles, and tattered hymnals that spoke of countless others who had come before us to worship. And because it was a time of greater formality, we were greeted at the doors by ushers in dark suits wearing white carnations in their lapels; these men and/or women would hand us freshly printed programs as they led us down the aisle to a pew with red velvet cushions, cushions that had seen many a day and been sat on by a multitude of churchgoers. Somewhere along the way to our seats, I would encounter an image of the Christ who was portrayed as a man with soft brown hair and a sweet face. When all who had heeded the call to worship were seated, the acolytes would march in under gothic arches carrying state and national flags in the glow of blue, red, green, and yellow light streaming through the stained-glass windows. On their heels came the choir and the robed pastoral staff. Once everyone was in place, choral voices led us in songs before we were implored to make affirmations of faith and recite the Lord’s prayer. Then came the giving of tithes in gold offertory plates, before we drank from silver chalices filled with the “Blood of Christ” and took from a silver plate the bread wafer that symbolized the “Body of Christ.” All the while these sacred things were taking place, a large pipe organ played softly in the background behind flickering candles and pretty flowers on altars covered in sacramental cloths. Finally by the time all was said and done within the hallowed gray, stone walls, we had sung a number of old familiar hymns, shouted amens, listened to a tutorial sermon, bowed our heads for the holy benedictions, read words of Scripture, raised our arms and voices in praise, and prayed for friends and neighbors as well as the hungry and the needy. And all of it was fervently carried out in hopes that God, was then and would always be with us, listen to our pleas, and answer our prayers.

Sadly at a church after we moved here I witnessed such widespread hypocrisy and intolerant prejudice by clergy and church members alike that I stopped going to church and turned away from Lord and His teachings at the age of 19.  However, the Good Shepherd would not let go of that which was rightfully His and so He pursued me for the next two decades as He does all of His wandering and lost “sheep” until one day I turned to listen to His voice again. Soon afterwards I chose to walk back into a church, and fortunately it was one where sincere sanctity appeared to be palpable and devout holiness seemed to permeate all that and who had gathered to honor and consecrate the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ. It felt like home and I knew I was home. As sentient beings, everything we encounter evokes some kind of emotional response from us which affects both flesh and psyche. So powerful and evocative are such experiences sometimes that there have been people who are healed of life-threatening diseases by constantly picturing themselves in times and places of the past wherein they were happy and well and sensed the presence of the Almighty.

Experience life in all possible ways –
good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter.
Experience all the dualities.
Don’t be afraid of experience,
because the more experience you have,
the more mature you become.
~Osho

The sacred pathway is
not hard, children
know it…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

…if I(Paul) am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. ~1 Timothy 3:15-16  ✝

**All but one image via Pinterest; collage by Natalie, and one photo of Natalie