1171. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival…
Treat each guest honorably.
Be grateful for whoever comes.
~Rumi

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Even in seemingly dormant times, we are in transition. Losses and gains are in constant play. We are the change-agent, and we are changed. Even without toil, we transform. So, wisdom advises us to open our hearts to transition; to honor fully what is passing, to learn from all that unfolds, and to welcome what arrives at our door each day with courage and curiosity. ~A Network for Grateful Living

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16  ✝

**Image of lily taken by me in my yard today. Outer edges deliberately blurred so that focus is on the amazing stamen and anthers.

724. Earth, thou great footstool of our God, who reigns on high; thou fruitful source of all our raiment, life, and food; our house, our parent, and our nurse. ~Isaac Watts

So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil
of this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world is made,
and the stars that blaze in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge we bear.
~Jan Richardson

“Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this… ~Job 12:7-9    ✝

*Image via Pinterest

509. How we treat the vulnerable is how we define ourselves as a species. ~Russell Brand

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength –
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more!

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It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all –
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Matthew Arnold

Echoes, echoes of the past–voices, so many familiar voices gone, now silenced by the closing of their life’s doors–memories, memories mingling with the present, all bringing the dark clouds that move in across her brain where the fury of raging storms begin on unfamiliar shores. The echoes, the voices, and the memories become scrambled in her dementia so that things and people once cherished create anxiety, anguish, and at times torment. Her mind, once sharp and clear, is now befuddled as she becomes more and more lost inside herself and her fears. Her family raised, her labors done, there is nothing left now but the lonely silence of her worsening deafness and the rapid waning of her vision. Soon she will be ever so far away from me, the one in whose womb my life began. Will she then still know my face and the feel of my touch? Will the skies ever again clear in her head and cast her weary, but back on familiar shores? Or has she begun the final journey of her dreaded aloneness? Please Lord, be with my mother as she struggles to navigate these dark passages of uncharted waters. Bring her comfort and peace, and if not mine, then let her recognize Your touch and know Your face. Let the child she has again become blindly trust as she once did that all is well with her soul and that You will care for her always. And let Your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind that’s becoming so profoundly confused, wounded, and betrayed by her aged, earthly body.

One of my followers commented yesterday on my memory post about the sadness of dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s, and I know that others of you are caring for elderly parents whose memories are failing. In those situations there are two or more people affected by the circumstances; both the aged and their caregiver(s) are profoundly impacted by this passage. So I decided to share the above with all of you.  It is something I wrote in my journal during a long, hard night when I was caring for my 92-year-old mother before she passed away.

 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝

248. I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire… ~Mrs. George Cran

Earth, thou great footstool of our God,
who reigns on high;
thou fruitful source of all our
raiment, life, and food;
our house, our parent, our nurse,
and our teacher.
~Edited and adapted excerpt from Isaac Watts

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What’s that whisper in the wind?  Do you hear it?  Listen, there it is again!  Oh, I know.  It’s that ancient and seductive call that tempts the gardener to come and play in the dirt?  And it doesn’t take much bidding before this one can do naught but hearken to the bewitching pleas.

For days now I’ve heard the “call” because even though winter is still quite young,  January has obliged the “voice” by bringing some warmer days.  So several days ago I began clearing my flower beds of autumn’s dead, leafy debris, cutting off seed heads to be scattered elsewhere, and pruning weak, leggy growth off shrubs and roses.  Working close to the soil let me, as usual, hear earth’s heartbeat, and that sweet sound in turn spread a soothing balm over the spiritual doldrums.

Ironically, however, it occurred to me as I worked today that I was blessing the warmth of the same sun that only a few months ago I’d been cursing for its relentless waves of miserable heat.  That brought me face to face afresh with the truth that too much of anything spoils even the very best of things, that there is a purpose, if not understanding, in all things, and that gratitude, when in comfort or lack, is the only appropriate response to a day’s gifts.  So, you see, it was more than an ordinary call or faint heartbeat that I’d heard; I’d encountered the Teacher and He, leading me in and out of flesh and spirit, had shown me, again, wisdom growing in the garden’s “soil.”

…and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil.  ~Deuteronomy 30:9a  ✝