1409. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

For, after all, put it as we may ourselves,
we are all of us, from birth to death, guests
at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath
are parts of the banquet…
Shall we think of the day then as a chance
to come nearer our Host, and find out
something of Him who has fed us so long?
-Rebecca Harding Davis

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Autumn is perennially one of the two seasons in which I pray every available drop of glory lands squarely in the metaphorical cup intended to quench the thirst of the my soul. Although there are delights to serve that purpose in all the seasons, spring and fall feed my parched soul like no other, and I would lament the spillage of even a single drop of their honeyed elixir. From the very beginning all humanity has indeed been a guest at a table it did not set, and Yahweh who set the table remains the Gracious Host of the banquet which is annually laid before us. Given that, the question is how does one respond appropriately to the Lord’s continuous and magnanimous gifts. Among other things Scripture says His people should rejoice and be glad in their days and that they should be thankful for His gifts and praise Him always. So years ago when I began to realize how much a bent toward cynicism was squelching my gratitude and keeping me from receiving God’s full measure of grace, I began an experiment to prove something to myself. At the end of each day, I’d write down at least 5 blessings, good things that I’d experienced during the course of the day. Despite my doubts of accomplishing that goal for any length of time, I soon discovered that I could find more than enough commendable and/or noteworthy good things for which to thank God, especially the blessings that come through the five senses especially when I discovered that morning glories love the fall’s cooler temps and put on a splendid, “grand finale.” Once moe I realized that for any relationship to work and flourish it is not enough to just feel love. The recipient, be it a mortal he or she or a Deity, they must be told and shown as often as possible how deep our love and gratitude goes.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. -Philippians 2:1-2 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1408. The groves were God’s first temples. ~William Cullen Bryant

There is always Music amongst
the trees in the Garden, but our hearts
must be very quiet to hear it.
~Minnie Aumonier

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Who could have ever imagined that dying things would perish in such  beauty, that what once was vibrant and green and full of life and promise, would pass into a second state of glory filled with purpose. For this not the end of these dying beauties but the beginning of what will guarantee the return of the green tree and the flowers and the birds and the bees and on and on it goes. For like the food the green fruit tree puts upon our table, so does the dying leaf and bits of bark feed the soil beneath the trees’ canopies as well as the life that shelters beneath the warmth of autumn’s fallen debris. Autumn is simply the next step in the dance of life’s circling seasons.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death…

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is….That is happiness.” ~Author Unknown

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~Psalm 96:12 ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1392. He prayeth best, who loveth best all things great and small; for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are 100,000 or so species of insects 
native to the United States. More than 1/3 
of these have been found in Texas. 
Texas has more different kinds of 
insects than any other state. 
~From a Texas Gov’t. publication
found on the Internet

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There is simply never a shortage of “beasties” on Texas soil especially when the temperatures soar. “Things great and small,” lovable and loathsome, have been on the move in the water, in the air, and on the land. Some float, some flutter, some fly, some are fleet of foot, some feed on the earth’s grasses and some crawl, slither, or graze in them. Scripture tells us that the good Lord saw that all He made was good, but being a less than perfect mortal, I struggle with loving and seeing the good in “all things great and small.” The fact that spiders, snakes, and “skeeters” bite and can kill has always had a great deal to do with my disdain for earth’s not so charming and/or endearing creatures. However, when I became an avid gardener, I began realizing more and more the intentionality of all that God made. Working the soil helped me see the genius of the “string of life” that connects everything on earth together in a beneficial series of interdependencies. Creation, on a grander scale of course, is much like the human body–everything in it is connected and it all works together for the good of the whole. In light of that complete awareness, slowly but surely, I’m learning to be more tolerant of the earth’s less endearing creatures. Toiling under the sun in all the seasons has shown me that built into Creation’s tapestry are purpose and provisions for all that God made. That awareness, despite my difficulty in embracing all of the “beasties” who dwell here in Texas has engendered and enlarged my trust, love, and faith in the Lord’s plans and His purposes as well as an acceptance of all that He has made.

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How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. When You send your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth. -Psalm 104:24, 30  ✝

1381. May…the month when the foliage of herbs and trees is most freshly green, when buds ripened and blossoms appear in their fragrance and loveliness. ~Sir Thomas Malory

Well, spring sprang.
We’ve had our state of grace 
and
our little gift of sanctioned madness,
courtesy of Mother Nature.
~David Assael

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As oncoming summer’s blast furnace begins to heat up so do the colors in the garden. It has literally become a lively fiesta outside my doors and creatures, great and small, winged or afoot, are partaking of the feasts that have been laid before them on Creation’s table.

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In fact they’ve been so busy of late supping on the produce of May’s “potent blood” that I’ve only been able to capture two recent “critter” images with my camera. But I wouldn’t keep any of them from their tasks even if I could for what they’re doing not only satisfies their hunger but also mine, and it guarantees that this time next year there will be more.

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God’s designs are such ingenious plans! For example these pollinating creatures are so much smaller than we and their lives span such a brief period of time, but what power their tiny wings and feet have in the grand scheme of things! We, mortal humanity that is, think ourselves to be so mighty and yet mankind literally owes its very existence to what comes from the labors of these annual pollinating dances upon earth’s stage.

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And sadly too many lives play out solely in the technological bubbles of modern society and so are completely unaware of the miraculousness of such scenarios and the utter life-supporting significance of what goes on outside myopic, sterile, and godless environments.

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Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. ~Excerpted line from Jeremiah 8:7 ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie

1359. Human beings need pleasure, as in to be thrilled, the way they need vitamins. ~Edited line by Lionel Tiger

thrilled

1. a. A sudden feeling of pleasure or excitement
    b. A source or cause of pleasure or excitement
2. a. A quivering caused by sudden excitement or emotion
    b. A trembling caused by pleasurable excitement or emotion

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O, money can’t buy the delights of the garden,
Nor Poetry sing all its charms:
There’s a solace and calm ne’er described by the pen
When we’re folded within Nature’s arms!
~Edited and adapted poem
by James Rigg

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Surely you’ve been thrilled by something that truly speaks to you, and when it does, your heart bursts with an adrenaline rush? I hope so! For me, is has happened time and time again in my garden during every season. And there is something about all of them that thrills and excites me through and through. But in spring the excitement ratchets up even more so especially when finding those first little green shoots pushing up through the soil or better yet that first bloom that makes me tremble with delight all the way down to my very core. As it sends pure elation racing through my veins, that spicy taste of something thrilling ushers along a sweet taste of hope. For in witnessing another round of earth’s sweet beginning in God’s Eden, I experience the richness of nature’s holy, ancient, and forever faithful design. In knowing that I am so filled with gladness that tears well up in gratitude for the privilege of being alive as well as for being granted time to lead a quiet life and work the soil with my hands in my tiny piece of Eden. Above and below are the first fruits of my labor this year; I planted these tulips last December, and their exquisiteness is taking by breath away day by day by day!

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To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be elated by the stars at night; to be thrilled by a bird’s nest or a flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~Edited and adapted quote by John Burroughs

In trying to please God, we are asked in Scripture to: Make it our goal to live a quiet life, minding our own business and working with our hands… ~1 Thessalonians 4:11  ✝

1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

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When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

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Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

1261. The color blue is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight. ~John Ruskin

blue, the color of sea and sky
blue, a constant color in our lives
blue, the collective color of the spirit
blue, the only color which maintains
its own character in all of its tones
blue, the color of peace and calm

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indigo, the deeper blue of the
mystical borderland of wisdom
indigo, the color that turns blue
inward to increase personal
thought or profound insights
or instant understandings
white blue, the color of
communication with others
blue, blue green, and green
sacred colors for some peoples

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blue, dynamic and dramatic
blue, engaging and exhilarating
blue, that in some places is
a symbol of mourning or
sacrifice or warding off evil
blue, that in other places is
thought to correspond with
the 4 seasons, the 5 primary
elements, the directions,
blue, the color often associated
with feeling sad or unhappy
blue, a soothing element
in gardens everywhere

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And we even experience
the color blue in all our senses:
Blue is the look of a cool spring day.
Blue smells like a freshly bloomed flower.
Blue feels like a cool breeze on a hot day.
Blue tastes like tasty, sweet blueberries.
Blue sounds like gentle, falling rain.
Blue is the wonder in our minds.

…the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. ~Excerpt from Exodus 24:9-10  ✝

**Blue, as in these wondrous, tie-dye morning glories in my yard