1200. Every day, you get the opportunity to change your life. ~Rodolfo Costa

You are an instrument of God.
Don’t leave the instrument
sitting in its case my son. Play!
Leave no part of your instrument unexplored.
~Abraham Verghese

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 6.31.43 PM.png

I don’t normally share this “bragging” kind of information, but it’s the recognition of a goal I’d set for myself. And in achieving it, it has silenced old naysaying ghosts and proved that even an old, gray-haired lady without any particularly impressive credentials or talents can fulfill, in some way, long held hankerings. As an educator and a parent, I always encouraged my students and my daughter to explore avenues that led to dreams or desires they held. To that end, James and I afforded for our daughter, ballet lessons, karate lessons, violin lessons, swimming lessons–in general anything she came home and said she’d like to try. As it turned out her skills as a swimmer earned her 5 full collegiate scholarships. Then there were the graduate degrees she attained. Though these things are no longer her little niches in the grand scheme of things, they’ve served her well, helped develop her character and values, and left her with no “what if” regrets. For me it was different, unless my dreams served a “practical” purpose, I was denied the pursuit of them. For example, I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be a singer but of course all such things were not at all “practical” and certainly no one could make a living doing them according to my parents. Then when it came time for college (something that no one on either side of my family had had the privilege and opportunity to attend), mom decided that it would be great if I became a teacher even though I  didn’t want to be one. But since my father had just passed away leaving her to finish raising their 3 teenage daughters on her own and she had quashed all my other longings, what else could I do but be the dutiful daughter a girl of that era had no other choice but to be. But then came the day when the dutiful daughter retired after 31 years of teaching and chose to find ways to address those long held hungers. Now although she may not be an artist, she can take pretty darned good photos. Although she’s not a dancer, she and her hubby can scoot their boots pretty darned well around a dance floor. Although she’s not an published author, she can knock out some fair-to-middling prose now and again. And so today after starting my blog with NO followers 3 years ago, WP notified me that I hit 1000 followers. It may seem a small number to some of you, but my little previously unanswered “what if” regrets are singing Hallelujah choruses because at long last I’m playing my instrument in an attempt to serve God whose instrument I am.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. ~Exodus 9:16 ✝

748. Red is passion-lit, orange is flowerageous, yellow is suntastic, pink is lipsensual, green is lifebursting, blue is skyful, purple is berrydancing, gray is cloudrainy. ~Terri Guillemets

DSC_0067

Beauty is the adjustment of all parts
proportionately so that one cannot add
or subtract or change without
impairing 
the harmony of the whole.
~Leon B. Alberti

DSC_0199

To conquer a piece of earth and make it as beautiful
as one can dream of it being: That is art, too.
A man cannot be separated from the earth.
I come out of the garden every day feeling,
oh, inspired in a way that one needs
in order to convert the daily-ness of the life
into something greater than that little life itself.
~Stanley Kunitz

DSC_0114

Nothing is more the child
of art than a garden.
~Sir Walter Scott

DSC_0161

But who can paint
like Nature?
Can imagination boast,
amid its gay creation,
hues like hers?
~James Thomson

DSC_0238

Nature is painting for us,
day after day,
pictures of infinite beauty.
~James Russell Lowell

DSC_0091

If you ask me what I came
to do in this world,
I, an artist, will answer you:
I am here to live out loud.
~Emile Zola

DSC_0275

My garden is the canvas
upon which nature paints,
and in it I daily toil.
With my camera in hand
at other times,
I let live 
Yahweh’s art
out loud!
~Natalie Scarberry

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are al the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8   ✝

**I took all these photos of flowers blooming in my yard.

713. Colors are the smiles of nature. ~Leigh Hunt

You’ve already won me over-in spite of me.
So don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet.
And don’t be surprised if I love you
for all that you are.
I couldn’t help it-it’s all your fault.
~Alanis Morisette

DSC_0133

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! So what do you think? Is Morisette talking about a man who has won her heart? Or is it possible to fall head over feet in love, with a flower for instance? The color of the flower above certainly makes me smile, and it was a huge surprise, and I do love it.

DSC_0136

It all started several years ago when I decided to plant some new iris in the large island bed. Late in the growing season, I went to a nearby nursery, and all they had were a few scraggly rhizomes that had long since lost their name tags. But not caring too much as to what color they were and trusting that they would still thrive despite their pitiful condition, I bought the five that remained, came home and planted them.

DSC_0134

Sure enough before winter set in, up shot some of their green spears making it appear hopeful that they would for sure “make it.” And not only did they make it that next spring as it turned, but two of them were the amazing color you see in the photos.

DSC_0180

I’d never seen an iris this color before, and thinking that its petals with their beards of gold looked somewhat velvety and chocolatey over their also golden centers, it was indeed this flower’s fault that I couldn’t help but fall in love with its beauty nor resist taking shots of its blooms from all angles year after year. Ain’t love grand with whomever or whatever wins us over?! I think so and apparently so does the Lord.

It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:7   ✝

484. Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts. ~Dodinsky

The earth has received the embrace of the sun
and we shall see the result of that love.
~Hunkesni (Sitting Bull)

Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 5.17.09 PM

The flowers in these photos are the result of another year’s embrace of the sun. It will be the remembrance of them and the haunting songs of their colors, separately and collectively, that will lift my spirits when in the months to come we traverse winter’s “vale of grief.” If my memory of them should grow dim, I’ll have but to look heavenward and watch for them in the rising and the setting of the sun on days when a window in the gloom has been opened. In those moments when they streak the eastern or western horizon in a blaze of glory I’ll remember that as the earth tilts back toward the sun, the sun’s embrace will bring the flowers, their lovely colors, and their songs back to life. When they return and the air is filled with the music of many rhymes, my prayer is. . .

That the morning sun stir us with gladness from ours bed,
That the winds of March move us happily along the new year’s road,
That the rains of April renew our strength,
That the flowers and colors of May captivate our sight,
That the summer inflame our zeal,
That autumn’s colors stimulate our dreams,
That the silver moon make us wiser yet,
That the Lord keep us young at heart so that
we are full of life, laughter, song, and gratitude
for the holiness and goodness in all that the sun and His love embraces.
~Edited and adapted from a blessing by Fr. Andrew Greeley

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. ~Psalm 19:1-5    ✝

** I made the collage of flowers from images found on PInterest.

471. We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. ~Henry Rollins

As in the bread and the wine, so it is with me.
Within all forms is locked a record of the past
and a promise of the future.
~Author Unknown

Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 2.43.26 PM

During the course of a year, as humanity steps from one reality to another, there are visible ledgers of receipt and discernible promissory notes. So it is that in late August with less than a month to go before summer’s end and fall’s onset, my camera has captured an overlapping of this year’s waning third season and the waxing of its final season. The photos above prove that mortals are never left with an ending minus the birth of a new beginning. There is nothing finite that doesn’t contain signs of the infinite, and when such is seen the “little bird of hope” sings the loudest. So as summer draws to a close, may you realize that the seeds for tomorrow have and are being set, both in Creation and your lives. I know this because in the photo on the left is a fat seed pod I found in my garden this week, and it’s just waiting to spill its jewels of renewal upon the earth. As you dance with the, Lord and Lover of your soul, I pray that you realize you, too, are part of the splendor of the moment and that any discord endured in “dark nights of the soul” can be assuaged by shining new dawns. I pray also that you find a myriad of reasons to sing for joy, today and always.

“Glory be you, O God, for the rising of the sun, for colour filling the skies, and for the whiteness of the daylight. Glory be to you for creatures stirring forth from the night, for plant forms stretching and unfolding, for the stable earth and its solid rocks. . .that in the elements of earth, sea and sky I may see your beauty, that in the wild winds, birdsong and silence I may hear your beauty, that in the body of another and the interminglings of relationships I may touch your beauty, that in the moisture of the earth and its flowering and fruiting I may smell your beauty, that in the flowing waters of springs and streams I may taste your beauty, these things I look for this day, O God, these things I look for.” ~Excerpts from prayers by J. Philip Newell

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. . . ~Psalm 96:11-12 ✝

449. With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things. ~William Wordsworth

Bright flowers, whose home is everywhere
Bold in maternal nature’s care
And all the long year through the heir
Of joy and sorrow,
Methinks that there abides in thee
Some concord with humanity,
Given to no other flower I see
The forest through.
~From his poem “To the Daisy”
by William Wordsworth

Screen shot 2014-08-07 at 12.37.00 PM

Daisies, these in the photos are not, but members of the same family they are. And I believe the sunflower and the two Echinacea blossoms on either side are as deserving of Wordsworth’s poetic description as the daisy since all are equally bold, bright, and beautiful. The best part is that none of them need much tending and can be grown with very little effort in a wide variety of soils. And methinks too that there abides in all three “some concord(harmony) with humanity” because they bring the “deep power of joy” to the eye and not only reflect God’s glory but also fulfill a portion of His promises. Another great feature of the beauties is that these members of a 40 million-year-old family readily reseed themselves. That means that a gardener or farmer can start with a single plant and at the end of a growing season harvest more than enough seeds to share with other growers or to start a plethora of new plants in his/her own garden. The English writer, John Mason Good, said it best of such flowers, “Not worlds on worlds, in phalanx deep, need we to prove a God is here. The daisy, fresh from nature’s sleep, tells of His hand in lines as clear.”

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:11-12    ✝

Sweet Jesus, fill us with the mercy you bled on the cross and draw us back unto Yourself! Help us to be aware of You in all that we see and hear in Creation!

434. If you want to live and thrive let the spider run alive. ~American Quaker saying

Little Miss Natalie sat on a tuffet
Pulling her weeds today
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Natalie away.

DSC_0005

Much like a subtle spider which doth sit
In middle of her web, which spreadeth wide;
If aught do touch the utmost thread of it,
She feels it instantly on every side.
~Sir John Davies

DSC_0030

Actually the spider didn’t frighten me away because I saw the thing before I ventured into its sticky lair and was keeping an eye on it. There was a time though that had I seen the likes of this guy, I would have let out a yelp, jumped up, and scampered far, far away. But the aging gardener that I am now is way too fascinated by the wondrous and interactive nature of Creation to do that these days. I did, however, not sit on my “tuffet” much longer because I wanted to get a picture of the spider and its web. As spiders go, it was a rather handsome fellow, and I’d never seen a web that had a vertical zig-zag strip down the middle like this one had. But shortly after I got up, grabbed my camera, and got back out there, I had only snapped a couple of shots when one of my yard cats moseyed up at my feet and touched the bottom of the web with his tail.  And as Sir Davies suggests the spider felt it because it then scurried quickly up to the top of its web to hide under an overhanging leaf. I waited a bit but it was hot and the spider, it seems, was just not going to leave the safety of its sheltering leaf. So finally I took a deep breath and reached out gingerly to tap the top of the leaf and sure enough when I did down the creature came back to the center of its web. As luck would have it, this time it went down the other side of the web which allowed me to get a shot of its underbelly. So if you look carefully at the photos, you can see its back in the first one and in the second one you see its underside through the web.

Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.  What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold. ~Job 8:13-15   ✝

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.