1442. Through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul. ~John Keats

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful
means that we are less alone,
that we are more deeply inserted into existence
than the course of a single life
would lead us to believe.
~John Berger

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Years ago when I first began gardening, should anyone ask me what my favorite flower was, my reply as always was the rose. And I still adore them, but that was before I had seen a poppy or a morning glory nor clematis nor hollyhock nor lilies and on and only the list grows. Now I can honestly say it’s a toss up. It really depends on what’s blooming at the time. I would never have come to have grown either poppies or morning glories had I not seen them at a plant sale on a driveway in a neighborhood not too far from mine. I instantly fell in love with both of them. The owner of the house who was having the plant sale told me that morning glory seeds were easy to start, the trick was to soak them in what began as tepid water for 24 hours before I sewed them in the ground in spring. But she said, the poppy seeds must be sown in our area in the fall in order for them to germinate and grow roots deep enough to put up their tall stems and glorious flowers. (In colder climes with much later warm-ups, sowing them in autumn is not the thing to do.) So that summer I had my first crop of morning glories and the following autumn I sowed my first seeds for the poppies which bloomed the following spring. Since then it has been a love affair I never tire of. Why all of this now, you might ask, since it’s not spring yet and autumn has long since past. Well I hadn’t been outside in my yard lately, but today when I opened the back door to feed the cats, I saw poppy plants about 6 inches tall already, and of usual childhood squeals of joy arose from deep down inside and became air borne. I was a bit late sowing poppy seeds this last autumn and was fearful that perhaps I wouldn’t have any this year, but one of the things about seeds that I absolutely adore is that often all on their own they fall from a spent flower and lie in wait for the proper time to germinate and spring up anew with no help from human hands. So I went back into my photo archives and found some poppy and morning glory photos to dazzle you with this week. Why the heck not? I can as easily put a quote on a few of my favorite things as I can on ones I find on Pinterest and Pixabay, right?! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my…

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…” ~Matthew 6:28 ✝

**Poppy photo taken by Natalie in her yard

1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1420. The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~Henry Miller

Each blade of grass has its spot on earth
whence it draws its life, its strength;
and so man is rooted to the land from which
he draws his faith together with his life.
~Joseph Conrad

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In what I assume was a poetic conversation with the Lord, Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American lyrical poet, said “God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart.” In another instance, a Quaker and itinerant preacher named Elias Hicks wrote that “the fullness of the godhead dwelt in every blade of grass.” And Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish satirical writer and teacher rhetorically asked, “To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.” Like me, these writers realize that man was meant to be “rooted to the land and therefore to God.” Sadly, however, in today’s world because many no longer live close to the land, the “umbilical cord,” as it were, that used to connect all humanity to the land and God has been severed. In fact there are some who have never even been close enough to the land to reach down into earth’s hallowed ground, and one simply cannot grow roots to connect to concrete and steel or find anything sacred or nurturing in them. Thankfully though, in an effort to reconnect people with the land and to provide healthier food for the residential inner city dwellers of this country there are those who are finding places to build community gardens so that people get involved in caring for the land and reaping harvests from it once again. Equally good is the fact that a fair share of schools across the nation are incorporating habitat gardens into the learning experiences of their students. As a whole we may no longer live in a primarily agrarian society, but as always God helps His children find ways to remain connected to His good earth and to Him. For there is something so very holy in picking the “fruit” of one’s labors in the soil and putting it in the mouth; it is the biblical “manna” that not only feeds the belly but also feeds the soul.

Every blade of grass
 has its angel
that bends over it and
whispers, 
“Grow, grow!”
~The Talmud

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You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. ~Psalm 65:9-13 ✝

**Images via Pinterest and Pixabay

1398. My family has…

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**Painting is “Golden Tears” by Gustav Klimt

My daughter and her family have been in town since last Wednesday. It was the first time we had spent a good amount of time with them in months, and we had a very good time together as always. But it is very sad when they have to leave which they did this afternoon. And so tonight I find myself feeling very sad not only because they have gone back home but again because of the profound affect the assaults he endured have had on my oldest grandson. Though he is making a good come back, he still has grief to manage, hurdles to surmount, and a loss that can never be repaid or undone. And once again I find myself not only sad but angry and struggling with not wishing any ill will or harm  to his predator. So it is that my tears “are words the mouth can’t say nor can the heart bear.”(Joshua Wisenbaker) And regret comes again knowing that “every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ) But I shall sign off and go to bed telling myself that “sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” (Osho)

1393. Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness, and radiate light into the world. ~Author Unknown

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Do you remember the last time you squealed with joy about something? Or do you at least remember seeing a young child squeal with delight? How about an almost 75 year old? Well it’s true; I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact I’m elated that just months away from my 75th birthday, there are things in this world that still can make me squeal with joy and amazement. I’ve long admired photographs of lotus flowers and knew a little of their history, but it never dawned on me that I would actually ever find one here in Texas. And yet just last week as my husband and I made our periodic run through our local Botanic Gardens that to my amazement I spotted from the car what I thought were the pods of a Lotus plant. And so camera in hand, I screeched for him to stop and jumped out of the car to go take a closer look. Not only were there the remaining pods of previous lotus blooms, but I actually spotted a bud. That’s when I squealed because it was almost like standing in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time, so much so that I half expected to see Adam and Eve eventually stroll by. So for days I went back to photograph the bud as it slowly opened. At long last it appeared that it would fully open last Wednesday, the day my sister and I had chosen for our weekly quilting get-to-together. But rather than cancel at the last minute I went on to her house since we both look forward to our quilting days and time spent together. Sadly it did fully bloom that day and by the following day when I went back most of the petals had already begun to fall away. But I had seen enough to remain fully thrilled and enthralled by the experience. And I know that where there once was one there will soon enough be more. The opening photo is a collage of lotus photos I found on Pinterest, but below as I reveal some of the fascinating information about the Lotus Flower here are the photos I took last week. They are not the best photos, but it was very hot so I was shooting fast, and I couldn’t get very close to them.

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The Lotus Flower is one of the earliest and most spiritually meaningful symbols in our world ever. It spans various thousand-year-old Eastern cultures and to this day holds enormous symbolic weight.

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So what is it about this mysterious blossom that people find so enrapturing? Its colorful bloom is an obvious suspect, but the lotus also has a life cycle unlike any other.

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Late in the evening the petals close and withdraw beneath the surface, then at daybreak, the flower again lifts up to the sky and unfolds its majestic crown. With its roots based in mud, it submerges every night into murky river water, and—undeterred by its dirty environment—it miraculously re-blooms the next morning without residue on its petals.

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Although cultures have their own interpretations of this daily process, there is a general consensus among ancient texts that the lotus symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth.

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The lotus stunned people with its ability to dip into the grime and revive itself unscathed—an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and a sudden immaculate rebirth that can only be described as spiritual. But the flower also has a fascinating will to live. A lotus seed can withstand thousands of years without water, able to germinate over two centuries later.

“O Lord, by these things men live, And in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! ~Isaiah 38:16  ✝

1388. Everything that is born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life. ~J. Philip Newell

With you is the source of life, O God.
You are the beginning of all that is.
From your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
You are the life-flow of creation’s rivers,
the sap of blood in our veins, earth’s fecundity,
the fruiting of trees, creatures birthing,
the conception of new thought, desire’s origin.
All these are of you, O God, and I am of you.
-A prayer by J. Philip Newell

There are many images of the church in the Bible, but we will mention just three: the church as the Body of Christ, the People of God and the Bride of Christ. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:10; 4:15) and Christians are the body. “People of God” is another image of the church. God says of the church, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 8:10 NIV). The church is also referred to as the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7; 21:9), suggestive of a special and sacred family relationship between Christ and the church.

The concept of the visible and local church also touched briefly on the challenges and tensions that sometimes result in churches. Critics point to divisions and disagreements among Christians as evidence of a lack of unity and, hence, a lack of real biblical support undergirding the Christian church as a whole. Is this true? In some cases Christians do indeed need to admit to shortcomings and, at times, un-Christ-like behavior. But in looking at the bigger picture, the Christian church has always been united on key points of belief such as the reality of a personal, loving God, salvation that is found in Christ through His death and bodily resurrection, human depravity and the need for redemption through Christ and more. This “mere” Christianity or core of unshakable truths has united Christian churches throughout the centuries and continues to do so.

When it comes to the essentials or primary matters, Christians are united, but when it comes to nonessentials or secondary matters, there is room for some disagreement. This disagreement, however, does not change the unity on the foundations of Christianity such as the person of Christ and His role in human redemption. ~3 Excerpted paragraphs from an article by Paul Velarde

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. . .” -Job 12:7-8  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

1349. Before the seed there comes the thought(promise) of bloom. ~Adapted line by E. B. White 

I can hear, underground,
that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it,–
The small water seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out,
Slippery as fish,
I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet. ~
Theodore Roethke

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The dictionary defines a promise as: 1.) a declaration that something will or will not be done or given and 2.) an express assurance on which expectation is to be based. Therefore, it seems to me that seeds declare and express assurance of what the Lord has done and given, and as such is a promise of what we as His children can expect. For the mention of seeds and their promise is made on the third day of the Genesis story where we can see that plants and trees are manifestations of a sacred and prescribed “seed force.” The roots of this ordained and holy “seed force” reach down into the darkness of the earth’s “concealed depths,” and therein they are sustained by water. That’s why in the Celtic tradition the moisture in earth’s soil is a “symbol of the waters of God that enfold and infuse all things.” Not only that but as J. Philip Newell says, “everything that was born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life.” In so doing we mortals can see God’s goodness, deeper than any evil, at the inception of Creation and in the heart of all life.

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from my hand into the wind
one clings
as if to say there is in me
something yet to be
~Jeanne Emrich

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Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring. ~William Alexander

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And the sower going forth to sow sets foot into time to come…Like a tree, he has given roots to the earth, and stands free. ~Wendell Berry

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:11-12  ✝

**All photos of seeds and seed pods taken by Natalie; all collages created by Natalie.