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

 

1227. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. ~Mahatma Gandhi

When I despair, I remember that all through
history the ways of truth and love
have always won. There have been tyrants,
and murderers, and for a time they can
seem invincible, but in the end
they always fall. Think of it–always.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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I have heard from two friends today whose hearts have been hurt deeply. And as we all do, they are questioning why and how people can be so hateful and hurtful. Years ago when I was coping with a very hurtful situation, a friend of mine told me that only “hurting people hurt other people.” And over the years since I’ve come to see that Jack was exactly right. But then that doesn’t address another part of my friend’s questioning which was a.) do I think there are more hurting people these days and b.) if so, why? Before I answer that, let me say first that the fact that one of the Adam and Eve’s children killed his brother did not bode well for mankind’s ability to co-exist from the get go. We live in a fallen world in which good and evil do exist and have from the moment the choice was made to defy God’s will. And millennia after millennia has provided more than adequate evidence of a common inability as a whole to be loving and to get along peacefully. Now to address two of her queries; yes, I do think there are more hurting, hateful people, and the source is the media and the internet as you suggested. Just look at what we are being fed 24/7–It’s “cool” to be a bad-ass, it’s “cool” to be disrespectful, it’s “cool” to bully others, it’s “cool” get revenge and on and on it goes around the clock and ad nauseum. But like Gandhi I’ve not lost faith in mankind’s ability to self-correct. And it all starts with each and everyone one of us. The tools at our easy disposal are kind words, kind gestures, and lots of smiles especially to and with those who are hell-bent on behaving badly. We also have to choose to surround ourselves with people who support and affirm who and what we are; we have to choose to walk away from those who want to fight verbally or physically; we have to choose to forgive transgressions which in the end if not released only poison ourselves; we have to choose to be kind to ourselves as well by finding or creating some kind of sacred space where we can restore and re-energize our emotional well being; we have to choose to leave any and all past hurts behind us never to be brought into the present again; and we have to find places and ways to sit in silence in order to listen to the still, small voice inside who loves us and wants to heal our brokenness. And finally we have to greet each day and each breath with gratitude for the gifts that they are; we have to learn when enough is enough; we have to realize the finiteness of each breath, each step, each day; and for heaven’s sake we have to quit trying to seek a “version” of ourselves and find the real, authentic person inside. Is all of the above easy to do? No, but then what is in this life? Is it essential that we try? Yes, for the ones we leave behind when we are gone!

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… ~Luke 6:27  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1187. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape. ~Excerpt from an article by David Whyte@gratefulness.org

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Stop what you are doing right now! Just stop for a minute! Close your eyes and feel the in and out movement of your breath. Keep your eyes closed, stay still a little longer, and feel your heart beating. Now open your eyes, take in all the colors and sights around you, and recognize the blessing of sight. Then listen to any sounds you hear and be thankful for you ears and the blessing of both sound and silence. Next reach out your hands and touch something, anything, and become aware of its textures or smoothness, hardness or softness–all those things that come with the blessing of touch. After that find something to take a bite or sip of, and as you chew or swallow, savor and enjoy the flavor and taste of whatever it is. Last, before you return to what you were or were not doing, try to wrap your mind around the “many millions of things that had to come together and live together and mesh together” for all those gifts to be realities in your world. Almost 4 years ago, a day came when all that was threatened to be over for me as the result of 2 clots in my brain. Never, ever take for granted the gifts, the blessings, the miracles, and especially the Giver of the “many millions of things!” Thank you Jesus for this day, these gifts, and your faithfulness!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5  ✝

**Image via Pixabay; text added by Natalie

1152. And she was as fair as is the rose in May. ~Geoffrey Chaucer

Which is the loveliest in a rose?
Its coy beauty when it’s budding,
or its splendour when it blows?
~George Barlow

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THE ROSE aloft in sunny air,
Beloved alike by bird and bee,
Takes for the dark Root little care
That toils below it ceaselessly.

I put my question to the flower:
“Pride of the Summer, garden queen,
Why livest thou thy little hour?”
And the Rose answered, “I am seen.”

I put my question to the Root.
“I mine the earth content,” it said,
“A hidden miner underfoot:
I know a Rose is overhead.”
~John James Platt

**Le Souvenir de la Malmaison is a bourbon rose that was created in 1843 by Lyon rose breeder Jean Béluze, who named it after the Château de Malmaison where Joséphine de Beauharnais, wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, had created a magnificent rose garden. For a while I had a Souvenir de la Malmaison growing in my yard; sadly she perished in the garden for some reason, but this photo keeps her alive in my memory and in my heart.

May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth He has given to mankind. ~Psalm 115:15-16  ✝

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

943. If you wish to know the Creator, come to know His creatures. ~Columbanus, Medieval Irish Monk

Out of the waters of God’s life
come the creatures of earth, sea, and sky.
With the birth of the creatures on the fifth day
there is the emergence of seeing, hearing,
smelling, tasting, and touching.
~J. Philip Newell

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One of the keys to listening needs to be simply an appreciative attentiveness to God’s creatures. The Book of Job says, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” And to look to the animal world is not to look away from God; instead, it’s a way to look at a showing forth of the mystery of God. For it reveals something of the way of God’s seeing and sensing, and one can see as well that in Creation’s mysteries is part of the Christ mystery.

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I’ve seen animals, such as the bird in the photo above, who seem to be bowing before the Creator in gratitude for life, for the day, for His continuing Presence here. There is also the unbroken song of the creatures. And in Revelation John envisaged an unending song of praise being sung by all that swims and flies and has motion. He said every creature on earth here below and in the ocean beneath and in the air above was giving glory to God, singing Holy, Holy, Holy. ~Both paragraphs contain directly quoted, paraphrased, and/or adapted random excerpts from THE BOOK OF CREATION by J. Philip Newell

Consider first the Canada Goose,
brown body, whitish breast
black head, long black neck…
Then there’s the Barnacle Goose…
flight note
a rapidly repeated gnuk
gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk gnuk
(like an ecstatic Eskimo)…
The snow goose
has a pure white plumage
with black-tipped wings…
In Europe you might take her for a swan
or maybe a gannet
till she lets you know abruptly
she’s all goose
so
there they go
through the wind, the rain, the snow
wild spirits knowing
what they know
~Kenneth White

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” ~Job 12:7-10  ✝

**Mike Bizeau posted the great photo of a bull elk on his blog, and I found the image of the bird with its head bowed on Pinterest

899. The people who know God well—mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator. ~Richard Rohr

Once you are in communion with God,
you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear other
people in whom God has also found a dwelling place.
~Henri Nouwen

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Lover of my soul
Will you listen to me
I know you will
My spirit you see
My heart you touch
My soul you shape
My being is yours
I’m here, please take
Me away to that secret place
Where we connect
~Staci Lys Dunn Silva at:
https://stacilys.wordpress.com/about/

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. ~Psalm 33:13-15  ✝

**Rose image via Pinterest