1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1150. Sow the living part of yourselves in the furrow of life. ~Miguel de Unamuno

Two years ago, I was saying as I
planted seeds in the garden,
“I must believe in these seeds,
that they fall into the earth and grow
into flowers and radishes and beans.”
It is a miracle to me because
I do not understand it.  The very fact
that they use glib technical phrases to
describe the process does not make it any
less a miracle, and a miracle we all accept.
Then why not accept God’s miracles?
~Edited lines by Dorothy Day

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Part of the genius of God’s miracles and grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and His vitality that has been stored in the seeds of our being, seeds that possess the same strength as that of the rising sun, earth’s swelling seas, and its fertile plains. An excellent time to look for the shining of His everlasting light in the “sanctuary of the soul” is in the first waking moments of each new day. That inward realm is where doors open to the germination of new life because inside each one of us the Lord has planted His “seeds of greatness.” There’s never a moment in life when either in and of ourselves or in the people around us that there are not yet unopened gifts of promise. Simply put, “heaven’s creativity on earth” is born in our bodies, and therein the Master’s “sacred hopes” are hidden. His hopes can come to fruition through the germination of our gifts and through the catalyst of prayer when we lift up “the agonies of life in the world” and ask for grace where “the human soul has grown hard” and lost sight of God’s light.

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. ~Psalm 77:14 ✝

**Image of Lotus pod with sseeds via Pinterest

1338. The joyful heart sees and reads the world with a sense of freedom and graciousness. John O’Donohue

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

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As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

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Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

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As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

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As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

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As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

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May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god. ~John O’Donohue

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Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. ~Psalm 100:2  ✝

**All photos found on Pinterest;
special effects on the last two were done by me on iPiccy

1334. Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Willis Peterson said, “A click of the shutter, a crank of the film, and you’ve caught forever a significant bit of life,” and I could not agree more. But to each of us the “significant bit of life” we choose to capture photographically may be vastly different. For me it is the natural world in general, and my garden of flowers in particular. So when winter begins to weigh heavily on me, I turn to my archives to find “significant bits” from previous years to lift off the weight of lackluster winter. While I share Ehrmann’s prayer with you, I decided I’d share some of my treasured “bits.”

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Let me do my work each day;
and if the darkened hours
of despair overcome me, may
I not forget the strength
that comforted me in the
desolation of other times.

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May I still remember the bright
hours that found me walking
over the silent hills of my
childhood, or dreaming on
the margin of a quiet river,
when a light glowed within me,
and I promised my early God
to have courage amid the
tempests of the changing years.

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Spare me from bitterness
and from the sharp passions of
unguarded moments. May
I not forget that poverty and
riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not,
may my thoughts and actions
be such as shall keep me
friendly with myself.

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Lift up my eyes
from the earth, and let me not
forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others
lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of
the world, but walk calmly
in my path.

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Give me a few friends
who will love me for what
I am; and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope.

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And though age and infirmity
overtake me, and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams,
teach me still to be thankful
for life, and for time’s olden
memories that are good and
sweet; and may the evening’s
twilight find me gentle still.
~Max Ehrmann

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Let us not depreciate Earth. The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world. ~Willa Cather

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By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:8  ✝

1321. Sense your Being, your own presence. That’s a source of joy. That’s the ultimate gratitude. ~Eckhart Tolle

presence

noun pres·ence \ˈpre-zən(t)s\
:  the fact or condition of being present
:  the bearing, carriage, or air of a person;
: the state of being closely focused on the here and now, not distracted by irrelevant thoughts

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A fellow blogger posted the above quote by Tolle yesterday, and since then I’ve been thinking about it and what it means. For me it begs the question as to whether it’s just a matter of being visible and tangible or more than that a matter of reflecting the sacred Image in which we are made. And if it is the latter, what does that reflection look like. I believe it is one where goodness and light are as apparent as physical attributes and personality particulars. For example light can be so prevalent in some, as was so with my father, that there’s a perceivable twinkle in the eyes that warms and begets a very real presence even in photographs. And as for goodness, when present it is like an aura that surrounds and defines a person.

To quote Tolle again, “The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment.” In the first quote Tolle implores us to be aware of our Being as a source of joy and gratitude. That should occur in every moment if we remain aware of the fact that life is gift and express our gratitude to the Maker of all life for that gift. According to Alan Cohen, “appreciation is the highest from of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

So presence it seems to me is an awareness of the sacred ground on which we stand at every moment of our lives, an awareness of the sanctity of all living things, an awareness of the holy air we breathe, an awareness of the holy light that shines on and in everyone, an awareness of intentional and divine creation, and an awareness that He who brought us here saw that all He did and made was good. So when we are asked to sense our own presence we should realize that first and foremost it is “purely and completely evidence of God’s grace” in our lives. Walt Whitman once penned, “we convince by our presence,” and so it is not our face nor our hair nor our size nor any such thing that matters when we talk of presence. It must always be the goodness and light we bring to our “state of being closely focused on the here and now” which is “not distracted by irrelevant thoughts” as Webster so aptly defined it in his dictionary notation above.

God intended Earth.
God intended the waters.
God intended you and me.
We were created in the image 
and
the likeness of God; 
we are holograms, if you will.
So the power, the presence, the energy
is within you and me.
The energy of God, as life,
 is within each of us.
~Mary Manin Morrissey

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ~Excerpt from Genesis 1:31  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text on image added by Natalie; special effects on image done on iPiccy

1320. Through all the…

noise and chaos of this world it’s absolutely essential to find a time and place every day to whisper the name Jesus, the name above all names. And then with certainty know that any and all of us, will be heard. Afterwards we must then be still and wait, listen and believe, and before long we’ll find ourselves in and surrounded by the Lord’s Holy presence.

 “Be still, and know that I am God…” ~Excerpt from Psalm 46:10 ✝

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God is always waiting to hear from His children,
And because He wants us to hear His voice,
He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible,
He speaks to us through our thoughts,
He speaks to us through our conversations with others,
He speaks to us through ordinary moments in our lives
He speaks to us through our circumstances,
And so on…

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; text box added by Natalie

1265. The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. ~Flora Whittemore

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The fact that I’ve been unhappily dealing with an intense, killer migraine since 4 AM this morning has reminded me of an incident that happened years ago. It was a day when I had been grappling with physical pain like I’ve had to do off and on throughout my adult life, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself even grumbling inwardly about it. So when it was suggested that we go to a movie which would include a long walk to get to a downtown theater, I wasn’t particularly interested in going. But I was eventually talked into it, and because I am slower these days, I was trailing along somewhat behind the others. As we rounded the last corner I almost bumped into a homeless man of color with no legs who sitting on the sidewalk in a wheelchair. His head was down but all of a sudden he looked up and smiled the most engaging, warm smile, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “God bless you!” I replied in kind but perhaps without the same warmth and walked on to catch up with the others After mulling it over I knew for certain it was no accident that the man was there at that exact moment in time for a Divine reason. So I glanced back with thoughts of running back and saying thank you as we entered the theater, but he was gone. Nevertheless, in our brief encounter this nameless, homeless disabled man had driven a clear message straight into my heart–I had a home, I had legs, I was not confined to a wheelchair nor was I having to endure hard days and nights living on the streets and going hungry. And so if he could ask God to bless me when the differences between our circumstances were so vasrly different, then it was time for me to rise above my trials and do the same.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:12  ✝

**Top image by LilAS and LOlAS found on Facebook; text box created and written by Natalie; collage by Natalie