1407. How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

Now we enter the ancient wood.
In what wild forms the gnarled
and mossy boughs are twisted,
what a sensation of sacred repose.
~Henry James Slack

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sanctuary (noun)
1. a place of refuge or safety
2. a nature reserve
3, a holy place; a temple; a church

In ancient cultures, people worshipped the Lord in groves of trees and forests. Is it any wonder? There are churches in this country that were built with glass walls and ceilings in wooded areas. What better sanctuary could there be than under the canopy of trees and the heavens above?

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.” ~Author Unknown

The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. ~Ezekiel 31:4 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1108. As long as you live, keep learning how to live. ~ Seneca

Life at any time can become difficult.
Life at any time can become easy.
Good or bad, they are seasons of life.
It all depends upon, how you take on life
and adjust to these seasons.
~Author Unknown

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 There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.
Dam a stream and it will
create a new channel.
Resist, and the tide will
sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.
The only safety lies
in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak;
fear, fantasies, failures
and successes.
When loss rips off
the doors of the heart,
or sadness veils your
vision with despair,
practice becomes simply
bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of
your known way of being,
the whole world is revealed
to your new eyes.
~Danna Faulds

In His(God’s) hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. ~Job 12:10  ✝

**Images found on Pixabay; collage created by Natalie

987. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. ~Helen Keller

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Another mass murder. Another attack against innocence. Another attack against personal freedoms. Another attack against human rights. Another regrettable tragedy. Another senseless loss for friends and family to bear. Another reason to fear for our safety. Another threat to what people hold dear. Another excuse to doubt God for the unbeliever. Thus what happened today breaks my heart again, and I pray for the victims, their families, and the responders. But what today’s horrific events can never do is steal my hope. While not yet ready to die, I will not live afraid, I will not let madmen rob me of my faith and happiness, I will not let madmen steal what time I have left on earth to worship God and enjoy the life I’ve been given. I am Yahweh’s child, I am of His image and the light of His love, and I will continue to shine His light whenever and wherever I can.

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening up shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have been quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
~John O’Donohue

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10   ✝

685. Man is a knot into which relationships are tied. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Someone to tell it to
is one of the fundamental
needs of human beings.
~Miles Franklin

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Have you ever pondered why we, any of us, blog? Or write books? Or pen poetry? Or compose music? Or draw? Or paint? I have and I think the quote above by Miles Franklin hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. We, who pour out our lives or thoughts or passions or joys or hurts or whatever in some way, do in fact appear to have some compelling and fundamental need to do so. Emily Dickinson added another aspect to this idea when she described it, “as a shelter to speak” to some trusted other in her life. Like her, many of us, I believe, find not only great comfort but also a kind of self-soothing safety when we, individually or collectively, find ways to express ourselves to those we come to trust and admire. This is best described by the Swedish proverb that says a “shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” In addition, I find something very cathartic and cleansing about “spilling my guts” to an “art or soul” mate given me by the Lord; they are the ones who give me the wings and courage to be all that He created me to be.

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all out, just as they are,
chaff and grain together
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and
with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17   ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

662. The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only. ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Out of the bosom of the air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
This is the poem of the air.
~Excerpted lines from a poem
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Snow again? Unfreakingbelievable! I’d been waiting and watching the skies all winter for signs of snow and when did it finally come? Three weeks, more or less, before the arrival of the vernal equinox and at the time of my knee surgery. Not only that but before the snow fell last week you’d have thought spring was springing up and out all over my neck of the woods.  Why so?  The neighboring Bradford pear trees were budding out, my redbud tree was budding out, the willow at the back was leafing out, the roses were also leafing out, some even had buds, hyacinth were blooming, daffodils were flowering, and an assortment of green things were sprouting up and out of the ground. But then and in the twinkling of an eye– wham, bam, boom, the temps plummeted, the rains came, and as February’s doors closed the “poetry” of snow fell. Go figure! But then since our last average freeze date is March 15th, silly old me thought perhaps the sun would be back this week and we’d start warming up. But oh no! Sunday, on the way home from the hospital I heard forecasters predict more below freezing temps for the week as well as additional rain, sleet, or snow. And wouldn’t you know, the weather gurus who are often wrong when it comes to Texas weather were 100% right this time because once more as this week progressed the temps plummeted, the rains came, and then last night out of the “bosom of the air” fell the “poetry of snow” for the second time in less than a week! My oh my oh my, but Mother Nature can be quite the fickle and cruel old gal at times, can’t she?!
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Throughout the evening I watched the snow fairies
As they were falling, falling from the sky, and
Whirling willy-nilly about in the misty air while
Contending fiercely for space supremacy.
Then as the night deepened they flew down mightily,
As though in heaven there had been a revolt or a riot
Which drove the frail things into a panicked flight
Down to the calm earth in search of peace and quiet.
Finally I went on to bed but rose early at dawn
And saw myriads of them huddled together in heaps,
Each merged into the other upon any and all surfaces,
Fast asleep, worn out by their sharp struggle.
~Edited and adapted lines by Claude McKay
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. ~Psalm 4:8   ✝

448. A blue jay’s feathered back holds spots of white clouds and soft, glistening blue. ~From a poem by Gayle Sween

We saw–through milky light, above the doghouse–
A blue jay lecturing the neighbor’s cat
So fiercely that, at first, it seemed to wonder
When birds fought the diplomacy of light
And met, instead, each charge with a wild swoop,
Metallic cry and angry thrust of beak.
Later we found the reason,
Near the fence
Among the flowerless stalks of daffodils,
A weak piping of feathers.
Too late now to go back
To nest again among the sheltering leaves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Paul Lake

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Photo posted on Flickr by Brian E. Cushner

Noisy blue jays screech in the alley calling for help because a baby has been snatched from the nest by a prowling cat. Alarmed I look up at one of my cavity nests where I recently heard the tiny peeps of newly birthed baby sparrows. I’m relieved to see Mom and Pop sparrow sitting close by in attentive, watchful vigilance for they’ve spotted the cat wandering back inside the yard. But they too have been seen and in a flash the cat charges ready to pounce. The sparrows quickly take to wing, however, and make a clean getaway fearing not for the safety of their children for they know that having just been fed the hatchlings will lay quietly inside the nest till their return. And so now whilst the feline huntress sleeps under her favorite lawn chair she can only dream of better days when she’ll once again have her way.

Hardly a day goes by when one cannot find something engaging or new being birthed in a garden. Even in late autumn and winter there’s a hopeful progression of captivating events. Our lives are like that too, I think. Since it’s a bit harder sometimes to realize much variation or progression in our day to day living, I love to go out and walk or sit in my garden so I can feel the thrill of moving constancy, intrigue, and rebirth.

The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. ~Ecclesiastes 7:8   ✝

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

357. A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen. ~John O’Donohue

The earth together with its
surrounding waters must in fact
have such a shape as its shadow reveals,
for it eclipses the moon
with the arc of a perfect circle.
~Nicolaus Copernicus

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May the Lord enclose you in a circle of grace
in which protection is near and danger is kept far away.

May the Lord enclose you in a circle of goodness
in which hope is kept within and doubt is kept without.

May the Lord enclose you in a circle of mercy
in which light is forever near and darkness is kept forever far away.

May the Lord enclose you in a circle of love
in which peace dwells within and evil is kept without.

May the Lord’s goodness, grace, love, and mercy encircle you
in safety wherever you go and in whatever you do.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. ~Isaiah 40:22 ✝

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 (a circle of love)!

**Image borrowed from Pinterest