876. Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. ~Ambrose Bierce

  Sometimes I do get to places just when
God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.
~Ansel Adams

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For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

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For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

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For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight;
For the mystic harmony,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
~Folliot S. Pierpont

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. ~Excerpt from Psalm 40:3  ✝

546. God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. ~Martin Luther

The Fall of the year
is more than three months
bounded by an equinox and a solstice.
It is a summing up without
the finality of year’s end.
~Hal Borland

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As we backed out of the garage not long ago, we saw this, the clearly defined, edge of a line of the thunderstorms. As I took the photograph, it occurred to me that in a much slower progression, that’s the way all of the aberrations of nature pass over the earth during the course of a year. Sunny days come and go, hot and cold periods come and go, flowers come and go, fruitings and harvests come and go–in other words God’s good provisions are always in a never-ending flux of comings and goings. Autumn then, as Borland says, is indeed a summing up of what’s happened throughout a year’s trip around the sun, and thankfully it only takes away what the gardener holds dear a little bit at a time. We may be just steps away from winter, but given earth’s history of unfailing continuance we are not too many steps further away from spring. So to recall a familiar phrase, all’s well that ends well, especially when we’re blessed with the divine promise for more. Is there any way God’s enduring love and goodness could be even the slightest bit more grand!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
~Psalm 136:1-9    ✝

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

Christianity sees plants and flowers as created by God
to show forth and share with humans
the divine goodness, beauty and truth – the purpose of all Creation.
In this flowers may be enjoyed simply and directly in themselves
as showing forth God’s goodness and beauty,
or more fully, as archetypes, signatures, symbols,
and bearers of legends, mirroring the revealed articles
of Christian faith – thereby serving as means
for their teaching, recollection, contemplation and celebration.
~John S. Stokes, Jr.

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Mary’s Gold they were called and the “golden gifts” of Calendula were offerings to the Virgin Mary by the poor who had not actual gold to give her. In the late Middle Ages some of the churches started designing actual gardens devoted entirely to Mother Mary. Marigolds and other flowers associated with her were planted in the Marian Gardens. Those flowers represented significant events in Mary’s life as well as her virtues, and the purpose of the gardens was to provide a place for worshippers to meditate and pray. All gardens or any flowery place for that matter seem to me to be an excellent setting for prayer, praise, and contemplation. So with my little photographic collage of summery yellow flowers, I’m offering up a piece of written text by John O’Donohue as a Celt’s food for thought this week.

May you recognize in your life, the presence, power and light of your soul. May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe. May you have respect for your own individuality and difference. May your realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a destiny here, that behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. ~Psalm 119:15   ✝

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. With all Creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything, and I will adore you!”(From Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean)

 

390. And the fruits will outdo what the flowers have promised. -François Malherbe, French poet

The sun with all those planets
revolving around it and dependent on it,
can still ripen a bunch of grapes
as if it has nothing else in the universe to do.
~Galileo

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Yummy! Yummy! Yummy! What deliciousness can be found in a garden! The flowers that precede the fruits and vegetables, as Malherbe suggests, are definitely not impressive. Not only are they unimpressive but they are also smallish and challenge the ordinary camera lens’ ability to get a good focus on them. On the other hand, the mature fruits photograph quite well because they are more substantial and anything but ordinary. Like Galileo, I stand amazed at the process, but then I am perennially in awe of all that Creation does and is.

Recently in a National Geographic snippet that aired on the internet, the narrator remarked that present-day humanity is the recipient of a 400,000,000 year old legacy bequeathed by the earth. Imagine that! For 400 million years, the sun has risen and set, fruits have ripened, and the earth has turned issuing one season after the other. And all that the earth is and does for those who depend on it for life and sustenance is the loving gift of Him who created Heaven and Earth.

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 men are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

295. Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man, color is the holiest, the most divine… ~John Ruskin

In the house of words was a table of colors.
They offered themselves in great fountains,
and each poet took the color he needed:
lemon yellow or sun yellow,
ocean blue or smoke blue,
crimson red, blood red, wine red.
~Eduardo Galeano

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What a glorious tangerine and white dream is the daffodil in the photograph, and holiness indeed is written all over it!  As God speaks to mankind through the Bible and Creation, we can see that He values color, the intent of which seems, like all else, to be that its hallowed voice draw His children closer to Him.  Color appears first in holy writ in the opening pages of Genesis when God fathered the whiteness of light on day 1 of the Creation story.  Then on the second day the Lord created expanses to separate water from water, and both the sky and the reflection of the heavens in it are shades of blue.  On day 3 He created earth’s green vegetation.  Day 4 brought the placement of lights that governed the heavens, and day’s greater light, the sun, is yellow; up close pictures of the sun also show reds and oranges in its make up.  Fish and great sea monsters swam the seas and birds took flight on the fifth day, and whales and sharks have been seen as hallmarks of an ancient pagan idol symbolized by the color orange.  The sixth day brought the creation of man and animals; the name Adam means red and the blood that courses through the veins of man and beast alike is red.  Day 7, the Sabbath, was sanctified by God whose robes and glory are perennially symbolized by white, and later when atoning for man’s sins His son, Jesus, wore a purple robe.

“And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.  Genesis 1:30-31  ✝

250. Stay, little cheerful Robin! stay, and at my easement sing… ~William Wordsworth

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The robin’s song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me.
Get up and get out in the garden.
For the morning hours flee.

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I cannot resist the summons,
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener’s blood.

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The magic spell is upon me,
I’m glad that I did not wait;
For life’s at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.
~Howard Dolf

In the first photo, a Pinterest posting, is a European robin who according to my English garden bloggers is already singing in their gardens.  The one in the second photo is our American robin who has yet to come, but when he does, we’ll know that spring can’t be too far away.  For he, the stuff of a Messianic legend and spring’s cheery harbinger, will, as the poem says, sing loudly of its coming and our need to get up and out in the garden.  Given my willingness to heed a garden’s summons at any point in time, the robin’s task won’t be too hard to accomplish.  Would that I were as willing to listen to Christ’s calling.  The last photograph I also found on Pinterest.  Although I’ve heard and seen robins feeding their young in my yard, I’ve not yet been able to get a good photograph of the event.

For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I(God) know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. ~Psalm 50:10-11  ✝

**See post 46 to read the legend of the robin.

237. Within the seed’s case a secret is held. Its fertile whisper shapes a song. ~Joan Halifax

I have great faith in a seed.
Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders.
~Henry David Thoreau

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Shhh!  Can you hear it?  Look at the photos.  This is the hope; this is winter’s promise; this is the fertile whisper!   But wait, everything in the photographs is dried up and brown.  And dead!

Oh do not be deceived by appearances, my friends, for these seed cases are ripe and what they hold is ever so viable!  Their wealth may now be kept inside in secrecy but trust me these cases are vigilant and waiting–waiting for that wondrous moment in time when enough warmth and light and moisture will enliven their songs of fertility.  And then they will split wide open, spill their sacred secrets upon the soil, and spark new life.

David Walters said, “God’s promises are like the stars, the darker the night, the brighter they shine.”  For me seed cases are like God’s promises as well because the deeper and darker winter becomes, the more the expectation of what they hold brightens winter’s cold and forbidding days.  As their sweet melodies take shape, they keep the hopeful dream of spring alive when what I see conveys a story of death and decay.

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”  ~Genesis 1:29  ✝