1022. While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness. ~Northern Advocate

The death-glow always beautifies anything
that wears the trace of beauty ere it goes back to nothingness.
We do not understand the secret of this principle,
yet we know that it is some law of the infinite mind.
~Northern Advocate

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Threads, filaments, silken strands holding to the past and yet releasing the future in the air. The amazing looking objects in the photos above and below are seed pods from a milkweed (Asclepias) plant. Asclepias species produce some of the most complex flowers in the plant kingdom, and they are an important nectar source for native bees, wasps, and other nectar-seeking insects. Asclepias species produce their seeds in follicles, and the seeds, which are arranged in overlapping rows, bear a cluster white, silky, filament-like hairs known as the coma (often referred to by other names such as pappus, “floss”, “plume”, or “silk”). The follicles ripen and split open, and the seeds, each carried by its coma, are blown by the wind. Milkweed is an essential larval host plant for the Monarch Butterfly which is why I have grown some in my garden for the last two years. Endangered Monarchs must pass through the “Texas funnel” coming and going on their epic migration to and from Canada to their roosting grounds in Michoacán, Mexico, in the spring and fall, and so Texas has been deemed critically important to the health of these beautiful and unique butterflies, threatened by the loss of habitats. But why should I bring this up now at the end of the year since we won’t see butterflies for months to come? Because it shows that though winter is an ending, it’s important to remember that it is the first season of the new year and so it is a beginning as well. Not only that but when all seems drab and lackluster, one who looks carefully can find great beauty even in the dying of the past.

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We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ~Romans 6:4  ✝

**Images via Pinterest.

857. If you want to know God, watch a monarch butterfly from a thousand miles away return to a place where it has never been before. ~Author Unknown

Butterflies…not quite birds,
as they are not quite flowers,
mysterious and fascinating
as are all indeterminate creatures.
~Elizabeth Goudge

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From inside my house today, I’m pretty sure I saw a monarch butterfly fluttering about my yard. This is an occurrence that I look forward to twice a year. For you see from April through June monarchs leave their habitats in groves of fir trees deep in Mexico or in the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque to begin a journey as far north as southern Canada and in so doing fly over our area. Sadly the monarch’s numbers have decreased tremendously because of the ongoing shrinking of their habitats and the poisoning by farmers of milkweeds (Asclepias) along their flyway. However, I’m still seeing a measure of them every year, and finding these colorful nomadic wanderers in my garden has always been a delightful rite of passage in their dramatic migrations. Monarchs with their burnt-orange and black-veined wings edged in black margins which are sprinkled with white dots are remarkably stunning. That’s why it’s easy in the spring to spot the 5 or 6 generations of them as they go along the way to their northernmost destinations. Since milkweeds are their host plants (the ones on which they lay their eggs), monarchs pause to breed whenever and wherever they find them which is why I purposefully plant some in my yard each year. As though heeding some kind of primordial cosmic call or the birthing scents of autumn at this time of year, the last brood of summer begins the long journey back to Mexico. Though it takes 5 or 6 generations of them to make it northward in the spring, as summer ebbs away a “Methuselah generation” is born, and that unique breed of monarchs makes the journey all the way from Canada deep into Mexico where they’ll cluster in colonies the rest of the year. The fact that this generation of monarchs returns to these places where they have never been speaks of knowledge beyond the grasp of the human mind.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! ~Romans 11:33  ✝

**Image via Pinterest