1443. Be the light shining in the darkness. ~Julie Reed

The world is holy.
We are holy.
All life is holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on
the lips 
of breaking waves,
the whisperings of grasses,
the shimmering of leaves.
~Terry Tempest Williams

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Be a light unto the world, and hurt it not. Seek to build not destroy.
How?
By your shining example. Seek only Godliness. Speak only in truthfulness. Act only in love. Live the Law of Love now and forever more. Give everything require nothing. Avoid the mundane. Do not accept the unacceptable. Teach all who seek to learn of Me. Make every moment of your life an outpouring of love. Use every moment to think the highest thought, say the highest word, do the highest deed. In this, glorify your Holy Self, and thus too, glorify Me. Bring peace to the Earth by bringing peace to all those whose lives you touch. Be peace incarnate. Feel and express in every moment your Divine Connection with with every person, place, and thing. Embrace every circumstance, own every fault, share every joy, contemplate every mystery, walk in every man’s shoes, forgive every offense (including your own), heal every heart, protect every person’s rights, preserve every person’s dignity, presume every person’s holiness, be every person’s blessing, pronounce every person’s future secure in the assured love of God. Be a living, breathing example of the Highest Truth that resides within you. Speak humbly of yourself, lest someone mistake your Highest Truth for boast. Speak softly, lest someone think you are merely calling for attention. Speak gently, that all might know of Love. Speak openly, lest someone think you have something to hide. Speak candidly, so you cannot be mistaken. Speak often, so that your word may truly go forth. Speak respectfully, that no one be dishonored. Speak lovingly, that every syllable may heal. Speak of Me with every utterance. Make of your life a gift. Remember always, you are the gift! Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone whose life you enter. When someone enters your life unexpectedly, look for the gift that person has come to receive from you…” ~Edited passage by Neale Donald Walsch

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house…” ~Matthew 5:14 ✝

**Rose photo taken by Natalie in her yard. This is a China Rose that dates back centuries and was the find that was brought back to Europe so that she could be bred with their only once blooming roses. She has literally parented hundreds if not thousands of roses over the centuries and so she speaks to me of the holiness and importance of all things.

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

1428. It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e. e. cummings

Authenticity is mesmerizing!
Vulnerability is captivating!
Flaws can be enchanting!
Light is breathtaking!
Love is spellbinding!
And you are sacred!
~Edited and adapted quote
by Craig Crippen

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Although the process of looking for better versions of myself was coming to an end under my own will and impetus, it was finished with the help of a trained mentor. It was she who herself had been where I was that found the wisdom and words to drive the message home to me that when we reject who we are, it is not only a lie to the world but also a lie to ourselves, and such lies can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief. So to “pay it forward” what I want others to know, although I don’t think my posts on this subject have reached all of those I was hoping it would, perhaps you who have read it will be able to “pay it forward” some day in your own way so that the gift stays alive. The road to recovery and finding our true-blue selves is not hard to do even after age 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 or yet more years later. It first begins when we realize that the original true-to-self person we once were did not die. Many, like me, just put him/her into hiding and learned to exchange who we are for something less and/or something false. It is always a choice! So please don’t hand who and what you are over to an often corrupt and superficial world! You are made of better stuff, holy stuff, intentional stuff!!!

In closing, without fail there are going to be hard times in life which will demand that we be utterly and completely who we truly are in our heart of hearts. Life is NOT a competition nor a comparison!!! We don’t have to trade our genuine identity and authenticity for ANYONE ELSE’S approval or standards!!! In fact when the trials come and they will, we will need EVERYTHING in the repertoire of embracing the divine self in order to remain alive and whole, make crucial decisions, support loved ones, and move forward. So please instead of creating versions of yourselves, start TODAY searching for and spending time with the real you of you!!!

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Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ~Ephesians 4:25 ✝

**Images via the Internet

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

1410. Color is a power which directly influences the soul. ~Wassily Kandinsky

Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man,
color is the holiest,
the most divine, the most solemn.
-John Ruskin

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To the sighted man color is undeniably holy, but the sanctity of it goes deeper than the eye. Deep within the human soul I believe color is recognized as tidings from the Father of our world. There is also a holy melody meant for the ears. Pablo Picasso once asked, “Why do two colors, one put next to the other, sing?” He couldn’t explain it nor can I, but there are color combinations that compose the sweetest of tunes. Pink and blue is one of those duos, and together they sing a divine harmony reminiscent of sapphire skies filled with pink ribbons of light. And Richter, a soviet pianist, said, “Music is the poetry of the air,” and I couldn’t agree more because these colorful rhyming couplets fill the breath of my garden with prayer-like chants as well as with the holiness of their hues.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. ~Psalm 148:13  ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1393. Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness, and radiate light into the world. ~Author Unknown

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Do you remember the last time you squealed with joy about something? Or do you at least remember seeing a young child squeal with delight? How about an almost 75 year old? Well it’s true; I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact I’m elated that just months away from my 75th birthday, there are things in this world that still can make me squeal with joy and amazement. I’ve long admired photographs of lotus flowers and knew a little of their history, but it never dawned on me that I would actually ever find one here in Texas. And yet just last week as my husband and I made our periodic run through our local Botanic Gardens that to my amazement I spotted from the car what I thought were the pods of a Lotus plant. And so camera in hand, I screeched for him to stop and jumped out of the car to go take a closer look. Not only were there the remaining pods of previous lotus blooms, but I actually spotted a bud. That’s when I squealed because it was almost like standing in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time, so much so that I half expected to see Adam and Eve eventually stroll by. So for days I went back to photograph the bud as it slowly opened. At long last it appeared that it would fully open last Wednesday, the day my sister and I had chosen for our weekly quilting get-to-together. But rather than cancel at the last minute I went on to her house since we both look forward to our quilting days and time spent together. Sadly it did fully bloom that day and by the following day when I went back most of the petals had already begun to fall away. But I had seen enough to remain fully thrilled and enthralled by the experience. And I know that where there once was one there will soon enough be more. The opening photo is a collage of lotus photos I found on Pinterest, but below as I reveal some of the fascinating information about the Lotus Flower here are the photos I took last week. They are not the best photos, but it was very hot so I was shooting fast, and I couldn’t get very close to them.

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The Lotus Flower is one of the earliest and most spiritually meaningful symbols in our world ever. It spans various thousand-year-old Eastern cultures and to this day holds enormous symbolic weight.

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So what is it about this mysterious blossom that people find so enrapturing? Its colorful bloom is an obvious suspect, but the lotus also has a life cycle unlike any other.

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Late in the evening the petals close and withdraw beneath the surface, then at daybreak, the flower again lifts up to the sky and unfolds its majestic crown. With its roots based in mud, it submerges every night into murky river water, and—undeterred by its dirty environment—it miraculously re-blooms the next morning without residue on its petals.

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Although cultures have their own interpretations of this daily process, there is a general consensus among ancient texts that the lotus symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth.

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The lotus stunned people with its ability to dip into the grime and revive itself unscathed—an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and a sudden immaculate rebirth that can only be described as spiritual. But the flower also has a fascinating will to live. A lotus seed can withstand thousands of years without water, able to germinate over two centuries later.

“O Lord, by these things men live, And in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! ~Isaiah 38:16  ✝

1389. Oh, the summer night, has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne. ~Bryan Procter

This was the way the whole world once measured time
This is when the light would wholly return to warm the earth
This is where the past would become undone
and the spinning earth would mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began
To the breaking of bright new dawns
Where after winter’s grasp let go
moments bright with fire, enlivened the sun’s pyre
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s attenuated darkness into fullness of light
~Edited and adapted lines from a poem
by Carrie Richards

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” ~Genesis 8:22  ✝