1457. Macbeth says “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” ~William Shakespeare

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
~Burt Bacharach

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At times a heavy shoe falls again and again in an endless succession and brings down things we’ve never seen coming, never wanted to have to face, and never know quite how to process. Prior to this I posted a piece I wrote exactly 5 years ago today. I had recovered from a stroke almost a year before I wrote it, and life seemed to hold lots of promise and welcome wonderment back then. How quickly, however, the tide can turn that sends one reeling upon uncharted waters full of pain, trials, fears, and questions about life such as: are your days racing to an end imminently, have you lived the life that was given you well, and can you still find purpose in whatever remains you?

After a weighty, burdensome shoe came crashing down in my life last March with the discovery of breast cancer, 6 months later shoe after shoe continues to fall, each one seemingly more challenging than the last. And though I know and feel the Lord’s hand written all over these events, I keep wondering if I have the “stuff” it takes to put one foot in front of the other with grace, humility, and dignified faith despite the pain, the fears, and the unnerving realities. When one looks back over 7 decades of living, he/she can surely see moments when God’s hand of grace brought him/her through countless “rings of fire.” And of course the ONLY appropriate response is gratitude which really should be in place at the time the trials are taking place but if not most certainly in the aftermath! But interestingly in the throes of trials, he/she often curses those difficult moments, bemoans what has befallen him/her, and entertains the idea that life really is a “tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing” only to realize later that there was divine design and purpose in all that had transpired.

So it is tonight that I’m sitting and thinking on such things after having been sent to the hospital because I nearly passed out in the yard yesterday. My blood pressure was dropping lower and lower, and at first it was assumed it had something to do with the doctor’s recent concern about possible heart problems. But as the day progressed, other “shoes” new and more daunting became apparent. For it seems that since August 20th when I wrote about the lung nodule that was of concern, my hemoglobin has dropped four points indicating that I’m bleeding somewhere in my GI tract. Consequently I had to stay overnight in the hospital so I could be given a blood transfusion while more tests were being run revealing that my potassium levels are low and my white cell blood count is half of what it should be. Now, though back home this evening, more doctor appointments beginning tomorrow loom on the horizon as well as more tests and more concerns about what it all means. And as I write this my arms are bruised from all the needle sticks, my psyche is bruised, and I find myself contemplating “what it all means Alfie” (a favorite line from an old movie) as well as doing my best to heed this line of Scripture below.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ~Philippians 4:4 ✝

1454. How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Old-fashioned flowers! I love them all:
The morning-glories on the wall,
The pansies in their patch of shade,
The violets, stolen from a glade,
The bleeding hearts and columbine,
Have long been garden friends of mine;
But memory every summer flocks
About a clump of hollyhocks.
~Edgar A. Guest

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You may have noticed that I’ve been posting lots of photos of hollyhocks lately. Why? There are two reasons: first because they are one of my favorite flowers and secondly because the hollyhock is a flowering plant of such antiquity that it was found at a neanderthal burial site, where it had stood as a silent sentry for eons. And then after the neanderthal era the hollyhock, a member of the mallow family, was grown in religious gardens around churches and monasteries, and hollyhock seeds were included in the cargo on early ships to the Americas.

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So the tall, showy hollyhock has been used in gardens all over the world and for those tens of thousands of years their chalice-like blossoms, when facing upward, have captured and held countless dollops of daylight while captivating mortals and pollinating creatures alike with their winsome ways. The name hollyhock probably resulted when crusaders brought this versatile plant to England. Holy and hoc (mallow) were the terms associated with it at that time. The sturdy plant gained popularity and even became the subject of a 15th-century poem. However, over the years and sadly, at least hereabouts, less and less of them are to be found in gardens, even gardens where they were once considered a staple.

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Those red hollyhocks are at the back of our lot,
and I think they are even taller than 9 feet.

So the tall, showy hollyhock has been used in gardens all over the world and for those tens of thousands of years their chalice-like blossoms, when facing upward, have captured and held countless dollops of daylight while captivating mortals and pollinating creatures alike with their winsome ways. The name hollyhock probably resulted when crusaders brought this versatile plant to England. Holy and hoc (mallow) were the terms associated with it at that time. The sturdy plant gained popularity and even became the subject of a 15th-century poem. However, over the years and sadly, at least hereabouts, less and less of them are to be found in gardens, even gardens where they were once considered a staple. So I’ve been thrilled that the last two years I’ve been having such great luck with growing them. I especially like that they sometimes reach a height of 9 feet or more which means they tower above all else in a garden; also wherever they grow, the flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Miracles are they then? I think so. The first miracle is that all the data needed to replicate this lovely giant and its flowers is stored In something as small as one of my freckles. The next miracle is that for thousands upon thousands and thousands of years the small seeds have not perished nor failed in their purpose. The third miracle is that the Lord ordained pollinators along with the sun, soil, and water, to be faithful guarantors of the hollyhock’s lifeline.

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How could anything be more amazing than that God not only created all that is and devised ingenious ways for everything He made to be replenished, but that he also valued the importance of beauty as well as purpose. The Lord created not just a human body that needs tangible nourishment but also a soul in the physical body that needs to be fed in spiritual ways, a soul that longs for and seeks its beautiful Source.

Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. -Luke 12:23 ✝

**All photos taken  by Natalie; collages created by Natalie

1447. The air is like a butterfly with frail blue wings. The happy earth looks at the sky and sings. ~Joyce Kilmer

It is a glorious privilege to live,
to know, to act, to listen, to behold, to love.
To look up at the blue summer sky;
to see the sun sink slowly
beyond the line of the horizon;
to watch the worlds come twinkling
into view, first one by one,
and the myriads that no man can count,
and lo! the universe is white with them;
and you and I are here.
~Marco Morrow

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Morrow mentions only the summer sky, but it’s a privilege to look up and behold the wonders of the sky at any time, isn’t it?! This time of year an especially breathtaking view of the sky can be seen by looking through flowering trees. But why is it that we like to gaze up at the heavens with or without trees? What are we looking for? And when our look up at the embracing canopy over us, why do words of wonder and awe enter our thoughts and subsequently fall from our lips? What is it about what we see that fills us with utter amazement? Is it because of the firmament’s majestic beauty and/or our puzzlement about the mysteries therein? Or is it because in our looking we become aware of a knowing that transcends ordinary knowing? Could it be that we recognize the handiwork of the One to whom we’re inextricably and lovingly connected? As we look and listen, can’t we hear the Holy One’s voice in the deepest part of ourselves, that quiet voice telling us that the sky and earth and life are not the result of a random happenstance but are acts of His divine and loving grace poured out for our benefit? Maybe in the sky and all else that delights our senses we see the quicksilver flicker of a tiny flame which illuminates our Maker’s face, a face our eyes have forgotten but our hearts still remember? Indeed, what a “glorious privilege it is to live, to know, to act, to listen, to behold, to love” under the tutelage of our grand and caring Father! And how wondrous it is that the knowing can come from just looking and listening and giving ourselves to Him!

It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s (and mankind’s, says Natalie) privilege to discover them. ~Proverbs 25:2 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1442. Through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul. ~John Keats

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful
means that we are less alone,
that we are more deeply inserted into existence
than the course of a single life
would lead us to believe.
~John Berger

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Years ago when I first began gardening, should anyone ask me what my favorite flower was, my reply as always was the rose. And I still adore them, but that was before I had seen a poppy or a morning glory nor clematis nor hollyhock nor lilies and on and only the list grows. Now I can honestly say it’s a toss up. It really depends on what’s blooming at the time. I would never have come to have grown either poppies or morning glories had I not seen them at a plant sale on a driveway in a neighborhood not too far from mine. I instantly fell in love with both of them. The owner of the house who was having the plant sale told me that morning glory seeds were easy to start, the trick was to soak them in what began as tepid water for 24 hours before I sewed them in the ground in spring. But she said, the poppy seeds must be sown in our area in the fall in order for them to germinate and grow roots deep enough to put up their tall stems and glorious flowers. (In colder climes with much later warm-ups, sowing them in autumn is not the thing to do.) So that summer I had my first crop of morning glories and the following autumn I sowed my first seeds for the poppies which bloomed the following spring. Since then it has been a love affair I never tire of. Why all of this now, you might ask, since it’s not spring yet and autumn has long since past. Well I hadn’t been outside in my yard lately, but today when I opened the back door to feed the cats, I saw poppy plants about 6 inches tall already, and of usual childhood squeals of joy arose from deep down inside and became air borne. I was a bit late sowing poppy seeds this last autumn and was fearful that perhaps I wouldn’t have any this year, but one of the things about seeds that I absolutely adore is that often all on their own they fall from a spent flower and lie in wait for the proper time to germinate and spring up anew with no help from human hands. So I went back into my photo archives and found some poppy and morning glory photos to dazzle you with this week. Why the heck not? I can as easily put a quote on a few of my favorite things as I can on ones I find on Pinterest and Pixabay, right?! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my…

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…” ~Matthew 6:28 ✝

**Poppy photo taken by Natalie in her yard

1441. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

For a seed to achieve
its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks,
its insides come out,
and everything changes.
~Cynthia Occelli

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Part of the genius of God’s grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and vitality. These things have 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 Yahweh’s everlasting light in the sanctuary of the soul is in the first waking moments of each new day. These are moments that are fresh and ripe and full of promise, and regardless of one’s age there’s simply never a moment when in and of ourselves that there aren’t unopened gifts(seeds) of promise. The Almighty’s sacred hopes remain within us forever, and heaven’s creativity on earth can be born of them at any time. Even if the human soul has grown hard, the catalyst of prayer, as the agonies of life in the world are lifted up, is enough to bring about miraculous new life and hope. Just take a look at seeds which lie dormant in the earth season after season after season; they too can be brought to life with a single spark of the Divine’s touch.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. ~Isaiah 61:11 ✝

**Image of flax seed which is used to make linen found on Pixabay

1436. I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker. ~Voltaire

If you want to find God, hang out
in the space between your thoughts.
~Alan CohenScreen Shot 2017-12-24 at 8.30.06 PM.pngMay yours always be a world blessed
with plentitude and enduring joys.
In your heart, may there be love;
in your soul, may there be peace;
in your mind may there be calmness.
May each season of the years
bring you the best they have to offer.
May you never be lacking enough
and never want for more.
May your home be a sanctuary wherein
you feel the continual presence of the Lord.
May you feel His mantle of love
perpetually around you and yours.
May your life yield a multitude of days
filled with laughter and love.
On rainy or troubling days may there
be rainbows, physical and/or spiritual,
to gladden your eyes and heart.
On starry, moonlit nights, may the orbs of heaven
and the “echoes of the spheres” speak to you
of the Holy One and His goodness and mercy.
~Natalie Scarberry

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. -Ephesians 1:17 ✝

**Clocks photos taken by Natalie in London and Paris; collage created by Natalie

1421. Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well.  ~John Greenleaf Whittier

At the bottom every man knows well enough
that he is a unique human being, only once on this earth;
and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is,
ever be put together a second time.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Scripture tells us we are all made in the image of God, Himself, so why then are we not all the same? I’ve come to think of it like this: our bodies are a whole entity made up of diverse parts that on their own cannot function nor do they serve any purpose as separate parts. However, together they work as a fully functioning part capable of being and accomplishing great things. So not unlike the human body then we, as individuals, are all diverse in appearance and here for sundry, specific purposes in the whole body of Creation/Christ. Though not all cookie cutter images are we, we are designed to be diversity in unity with God as well as unified to all the diverse things He has made. We are meant to be in relationships so as to deepen our reverence and affection for all mankind and our Creator who is bigger, more powerful, more diverse, and more loving than we could ever imagine. As we live out our lives, what our eyes see and what our mouths speak should always be filtered first through our heart of hearts where we are inextricably tied to the strings of God’s heart. What we look like matters only in the light of how we treat everyone and everything that crosses our path on this journey, be it the earth and its bounty that sustains mind, body, spirit, and soul, the creatures we encounter, or the people who share our lives. We are all an integral part of a bigger picture. Where we are at any given moment and what we do affects whatever or whoever is near to us in this sacred kind of jigsaw puzzle. But our impact doesn’t really end there, does it? Whatever or whomever we touch has reverberations. It’s like the ripple effect in a pond; the circles just keep moving on and on taking drops of the whole along with them until they reach the outermost boundaries if there at any. Thus although we are unique and seemingly an end unto ourselves, we must never underestimate the reach of our lives and the effects of our unique blossoming within the sphere of the whole body of this thing called life. Everything we say or don’t say at times and everything we do or don’t do sometimes makes a difference! And no two entities are exactly the same; also all bear scars sustained during growing seasons in this thing called life. Yet we are one with the One who made us, and it is to Yahweh that we shall return!

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. ~1 Corinthians 12:12 ✝

**Images found on the Internet