735. Be empty of worrying…. Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. ~Rumi, as interpreted by Coleman Barks

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, promise.
I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came
to me as seed goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as a blossom, goes on as fruit.
~by Dawna Markova

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Grass

~by Mary Oliver

Those who disappointed, betrayed, scarified! Those who would still put their hands upon me! Those who belong to the past!

How many of us have weighted the years with groaning and weeping? How many years have I done it how many nights spent panting hating grieving, oh, merciless, pitiless remembrances?

I walk over the green hillsides, I lie down on the harsh, sun-flavored blades and bundles of grass; the grass cares nothing about me, it doesn’t want anything from me, it rises to its own purpose, and sweetly, following, the single holy dictum: tto be itself, to let the sky be the sky, to let a young girl be a young girl freely–to let a middle-aged woman, be comfortably, a middle-aged woman.

Those bloody sharps and flats–those endless calamities of the personal past. Bah! I disown them from the rest of my life, in which I mean to rest.

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4    ✝

**Lord, thank you for this faithful promise above and for the blessed encounter today with someone who, whenever I see her, never fails to put the wind, the holy ruach, back under the frail wings, the torch, and the promise of this aging woman.

**Both images via Pinterest

578. Wisdom sails with wind and time. ~John Florio

There’s a whisper in the wind,
there’s a star agleam to guide us,
and a voice is calling, calling…
let us go.
~Edited and adapted excerpt
from a poem by Robert William Service

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The Sabbath dawned in gray attire and blowing gusty winds that sent scores of fallen leaves scampering across the lawn or swirling in checkered little eddies. Then down, down, down the grayness lowered until at last it began to shed its rainy tears, tears not wept in sadness but in joy. The birds who’d been darting back and forth to and from the feeders and the sheltering bamboo were gone, and now except for the rain, the yard was still and silent. However, empty it was not for in the midst of it all moved the ruach, a mere breath, the holy breath of Yahweh, the Ancient of Days. This wind, this holy breath was whispering that it was He who had used the phrase Ruach Yahweh in His promise that the redeeming Messiah would be empowered by the Holy Spirit; so come let us prepare to behold and adore this Messiah, this Savior, this Christ, this Immanuel, the Lord of all Creation.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~Matthew 1:23   ✝

** Edited image via Pinterest with added Scriptural text by Natalie

537. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are. ~Joan Didion

Although the wind is very powerful
and you can feel its presence,
in and of itself it cannot be seen.
You know it is there by its effect on things.
The great trees, the grasses, and
waves on the sea bend with its force.
If you are aware of your surroundings,
you know it is there long before you feel it.
So it is with the ineffable.
~Author Unknown

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Wind, the holy breath of Ruach, blows through Eden today. In it is a changed rhythm, a brooding rhyme versing odes of finality. As November’s clouded chills sweep across the garden, from where they perch on high the first smatterings of leaves topple to the ground. When downed, they dot the lawn, alliterating the year’s closing stanzas, and as they, the altered remnants of spring’s glory fall, they foretell what blooming color has yet to disclose. For there are flowers, duped by the favorable clime, that continue to open as day by day we slide down, down, down into winter’s ordained “vale of grief.” And so it is that whilst the raucous music and poesy of summer’s feverish days fade from memory, lower and deeper dip the melodies of autumn’s opus and balladry.

The tempest comes our from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds.  ~Job 37:9   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

349. The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy. ~Uvavnuk, a female angakkuq (shaman) of the Iglulik Inuit, now considered an oral poet

Oh wind, a blowing all day long,
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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In a spring garden flowers speak of sacred sacraments; the wind that ruffles through them, like my breath moving in and out, speaks of holy beginnings. And so back go my thoughts to Eden wherein the creative acts of Ruach Elohim took place. Ruach is an ancient Hebrew word for God which literally means “wind.” As such it was not observed as a being but rather as a “vitalizing force.” Bishop J. S. Spong explains that “among the Hebrews the ruach or wind of God was said to bring forth life. Slowly this ruach evolved and became personalized and called Spirit… The ruach or wind of God was not external. It rather emerged from within the world and was understood as its very ground, its live-giving reality…in the very mysterious wind, which the Jews felt on their faces, they believed they found themselves touched by God here and now.” So it is that in the here and now of my life, I find myself touched by Ruach Elohim in my garden hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. The holiness within my garden’s confines comes forth again and again from branch and leaf, thorn and blossom, and creatures great and small. Through it flow waters that sustain and nurture life. Above it orbs, golden and white, shine bringing light into darkness, and the ground upon which I walk is as holy as the hallowed ground on which Yahweh and the Christ trod.

Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. ~Job 12:9-10 ✝

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!

203. Surely a man needs a closed place where in he may strike root and, like the seed become. ~Antoine de St. Exupéry

But he also needs the Great Milky Way
above him and the vast sea spaces,
though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.
~Antoine de St. Exupéry

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For me, autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for reflection, contemplation, and soul searching–a time for ruminating on the things that move me and make me who and what I am.  And so as I worked out in the yard on this sunny last day of November, the windmills in my mind started churning up memories of the events that led to its door.  Rather than covering every step of the journey, I decided to start when I found my “closed place” in this house with its spacious yards where I began to “strike roots.”  In the beginning, though the home and its conveniences served my physical needs and provided me with creature comforts, relief from old emotional wounds and peaceful contentment remained elusive long afterwards.  Years passed with little change in the status quo until one summer while recalling the beautiful flowers surrounding my childhood home (above) in California, I decided it was time to try growing my own flowers right here in hot old Texas.  Since I wasn’t sure I’d inherited the proverbial “green thumb” of my ancestors, I resolved to begin on a small scale.  So I cleaned off a corner of the patio, bought some bags of potting soil and an assortment of pots and seeds, and thus commenced what I know now to have been a pivotal moment in my life.  From the minute the first seeds germinated, a soul-saving passion for gardening was being birthed in me.  Despite the summer’s miserable heat, I faithfully watered and fussed over my thriving “little flock,” and it was those familiar flowery scents that were the catalysts which sparked my spiritual reawakening.  The next summer with the success of the previous year under my belt and a renewed recognition of Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God), I decided to branch out and actually sow  seeds in the ground and dig a few holes for bedding plants.  Success came again and with it the quickening in my spirit intensified so much so that I decided to take my recently commissioned mentor’s advice to attend church once more.  This was the first step in righting the derailment of my faith journey that had begun after the early death of my father.

Scripture tells us that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches.  Until those first two growing summers the branch that was Natalie had been withering, not because the Lord had been doing less but because I had been turning a deaf ear and  blaming Him for the loss of my father as well as for painful, emotional wounds and the awful, unrelenting migraines that had started in my mid-twenties.  Since then I have spent season after glorious season planting, replanting, listening, seeking His presence, and marveling at the wonders of heaven and earth.  This pilgrimage that was involved in becoming the Natalie I am today has taught me that He, His Church, and His Creation, which includes the Great Milky Way, the vast sea spaces, and a garden, are the “holy foods” I must have to survive and live in peace and harmony.  Now minute by minute in this place where I have deeply “rooted” myself, the hungering need for “more” has been forever silenced by miracles great and small, blessing upon blessing, and the amazing grace He continues to bestow upon me.

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine;  you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:1 and 4-5

202. There is a communion with God, and there is a communion with earth, and there is a communion with God through the earth. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and Jesuit priest

Grass is the forgiveness of nature-
her constant benediction.
Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish,
but grass is immortal.
~Brian Ingalls

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Maiden grass, purple fountain grass, blood grass, little bluestem, pink muhly–what’s not to love about such names.  Not only are they alluring monikers for gardeners, but their visual charms provide great cover for  wildlife and their seeds are good food sources for birds.  Few pests bother them, and given a bit of wind their airy, flower panicles, feathery plumes, or striking seed heads resemble fairy wands as they capture and play with available light.  What I like best about them is that in their swishing and swaying the echoes of the eternal and murmurs of sacred benedictions can be heard.  A garden and all its plantings, be they grasses or trees or shrubs or ferns or herbs or mosses, always speak of earth’s primeval and venerable origins as well as man’s connection to the Holy Voice that spoke everything into being.  But it is in the movement of the grasses that I most feel the in and out movement of God’s ruach, His life-giving breath.  Chardin whom I quoted above contended that the more he devoted himself in some way to the interests of the earth the more he belonged to God.  It is the same for me because being close to and working the earth is like being attached to an umbilical cord that keeps me forever connected to and sustained by Him, the loving Source of all life.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.  He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.  ~Psalm 147:7-8  ✝