1407. How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

Now we enter the ancient wood.
In what wild forms the gnarled
and mossy boughs are twisted,
what a sensation of sacred repose.
~Henry James Slack

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sanctuary (noun)
1. a place of refuge or safety
2. a nature reserve
3, a holy place; a temple; a church

In ancient cultures, people worshipped the Lord in groves of trees and forests. Is it any wonder? There are churches in this country that were built with glass walls and ceilings in wooded areas. What better sanctuary could there be than under the canopy of trees and the heavens above?

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.” ~Author Unknown

The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. ~Ezekiel 31:4 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; collage created 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  ✝

1196. Every man has his secret sorrows of which the world knows not… ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I want to weep, she thought.
I want to be comforted.
I’m so tired of being strong.
I want to be foolish and 
frightened for once.
Just for a small while,
that’s all….a day…..an hour.
~George R.R. Martin

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My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
~Corrie ten Boom

According to mom, I started walking around the age of 9 months, and a week or so after that she had to take me in for a check up with the doctor. During that visit he gave me one of those routine immunizations in my little derriere. When I got home that day, I went to take a few steps and fell landing right on the area of the injection. It hurt so much that mom said it was a few days before I’d try to walk again. The image above is a photo she took that day as I sat contemplating my sorrow. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it has been my lot in life to deal with lots of physical pain, and from time to time I have to endure periods when it’s more prolonged and intense than usual. Sadly I can make no more sense of pain and suffering now than I did that day in the photo. Though I am a strong person, as of late there have been lots of tears, lots of doubts, lots of questions, and lots of needs for comfort. So tonight, I’m taking Shakespeare’s advice from MACBETH to see if that helps, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. ~Psalm 199:28  ✝

1109. The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

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 isn’t it a privilege to look up and behold the wonders of the heavens whenever given the chance? I certainly think so, and it’s especially breathtaking in the spring when looking up through the branches of flowering trees because the view then is even more spectacular. But then again, I find that staring heavenward, regardless of the season, is always a wondrously delightful pastime. And as I sit looking up, I wonder if, like me, others are filled with the same sense of sanctity? And if so, do the firmament’s mysteries and majestic beauty bring them too to an awareness that something in its mystical vastness transcends ordinary knowing? I would like to think that everyone begins to recognize the handiwork of the Holy One to whom we’re all inextricably and lovingly connected. And as people look and listen, that they may hear, in the deepest part of themselves, God’s still, small voice telling them 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 mankind. In the sky and all else which delights the senses may we seek the Maker’s face, a face the eyes have forgotten but the heart yet remembers. Indeed, what a glorious privilege it is to live, to know, to act, to listen, to behold, and to love! And how wondrous it is that those privileges are free and available to everyone!

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… ~Excerpt from Romans 1:20  ✝

**Collage by Natalie of images she took of flowering trees…

1108. As long as you live, keep learning how to live. ~ Seneca

Life at any time can become difficult.
Life at any time can become easy.
Good or bad, they are seasons of life.
It all depends upon, how you take on life
and adjust to these seasons.
~Author Unknown

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 There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.
Dam a stream and it will
create a new channel.
Resist, and the tide will
sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.
The only safety lies
in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak;
fear, fantasies, failures
and successes.
When loss rips off
the doors of the heart,
or sadness veils your
vision with despair,
practice becomes simply
bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of
your known way of being,
the whole world is revealed
to your new eyes.
~Danna Faulds

In His(God’s) hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. ~Job 12:10  ✝

**Images found on Pixabay; collage created by Natalie

1070. Dance is the hidden language of the soul. ~Martha Graham

May I stand amazed in the Presence of God;
May I stand in the midst of celestial fire
until my heart is molten gold…
May I walk everywhere on earth radiant, complete…
~Normandi Ellis

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I am the Lord of the Dance said he!
I danced in the days when the world began.
I live in you, and you live in me.
So dance on, then, wherever you may be
For I am still Lord of the dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be!

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I sleep in the kernel and I dance in the rain;
I dance in the wind and through the waving grain.
I dance in the constancy of waves in the sea,
For I am still the Lord of the waves’ mystery.
I dance at the Sabbath when it’s time to rest
For to live is to dance, and the dance goes on and on.

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The moon in her phases, the tides of the sea,
The movement of the earth, and the seasons that will be
Are the rhythm of the dancing and a promise through the years
That the dance goes on through both joy and the tears.
They took My life at Calvary, but I leapt up high,
Because I am the Life that will never, ever die.

**This is not a repeat of last night’s hymn that I quoted in part. It’s a heavily edited and adapted version of another rendition of the Lord of the Dance, and I love the new elements of it because I think they add depth and richness. I hope you enjoy it.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4   ✝

***Images via Pinterest; collages created by Natalie

805. Round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows…

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Life’s just a merry-go-round.
Come on up.
You might get a brass ring.
~Mae West

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If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
~Nadine Stair

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Work diligently,
Live simply,
Think quickly,
Fight fairly,
Give generously,
Laugh loudly,
Pray faithfully,
Love deeply!

I’ve always loved merry-go-rounds, especially ones where you could reach out and try to grab a brass ring.  Why?  Because the brass ring could purchase a ticket for another ride. This one in the photos is in Paris just across the street from the Eiffel Tower.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. ~Psalm 17:6  ✝