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

1337. Of winter’s lifeless world each tree now seems a perfect part; yet each one holds spring’s secret deep down within its heart. ~Edited quote by Charles G. Stater

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers…
~Thomas Campion

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Gray, foggy dreariness
ushered in the day;
A mist, a cold, frigid drizzle,
fell from on high;
Bare, starkly austere, lay everything
I could see; and
Silence, a stilled quietude, blanketed
my wintry garden.
Bleakly naked, towered tall trees that
stood above all else,
But underneath them from the secret place
murmured a voice,
The sacred, almost indistinguishable, faint
whisper emerged amid
The fog and fine rain to go forward undetected
past the woody sentinels
To allow its utterances to break into morn’s reverie
to tell of signs, longed for signs
Of tiny sparks of life that are preparing to push up
despite the gloominess
And ‘twas this message that stirred embers in my spirit
to keep their glimmer from
Becoming far too dim to continue sustaining my hope,
expectations, and “joie de vie.”

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Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.
It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.
~Rumi

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

**Both photos taken by Natalie

1331. I live someplace where snow is rare, you know? It’s rareness makes it so special. ~Edited quote by Stephanie Perkins

Snow is diamonds for a faery’s feet;
Blithely and bonnily she trips along,
Her lips a-carol with a merry song,
And in her eyes the meaning…
Life is sweet!
~Poem by Ruby Archer

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A 20% chance! Just 20%, that was all we had, and since that is almost next to nothing, we never expected to see snow here today. But snow it did for just a little while. It wasn’t a heavy snow, but it was enough to work its magic in places.

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The first fall of snow is not only
an event, it is a magical event.
~ J. B. Priestley

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A few feathery flakes are scattered
widely through the air, and hover downward
with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth,
now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Snow flurries began to fall and
they swirled around people’s legs
like
like house cats…It was magical.
~Sarah Addison Allen

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The wind crooned softly 
as it
dusted the snow 
against the window…
~Soheir Khashoggi

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Snow…blots and softens the top of
every object like ice on a plum pudding.
~Mark Haddon

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Snow was the most beautiful thing
Amitola had ever seen. It fell so gracefully
and drizzled like a cold whisper.
~Edited quote by Aishabella Sheikh

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Snow is falling outside and
all is peaceful and still. In such
moments it is possible to believe
that the world can still be good.
~Richard Paul Evans

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Snowflakes fall from high.
Flurries lift and twirl below.
The world has turned white.
~Richelle E. Goodrich

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Will had loved the snow,
the cleanness of it, the quiet,
the sense of peace it brought…
~Sandra Dallas

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I love snow…especially snow that happens
when you least expect it and it just sprinkles…
It feels like a secret. ~Edited quote
by Kate Messner

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Two things, love and snow, make
the world look fresh again…
~Edited quote by ~Charles Finch

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Winter invites white;
white invites silence;
silence invites peace.
You see, there is so
much peace in snow!
~Edited quote
by Mehmet Murat ildan

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater… ~Isaiah 55:10  ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie

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!

1275. In the silence of our hearts, God walks with us; in our garden of thoughts, He touches our hearts. ~Mar Razalan

In the space between each thought,
may you perceive your uniqueness,
the vast nature of your being.
In the space between each breath,
may you feel the immense depth of your soul,
and know yourself to be love.
~Edited lines by Julie Parker

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The day is done, it cannot be changed.
My actions and my thoughts reflected
my own spirit on this day in which
of some, I am proud, of some I am not.
When I wake, there will be new chances…
To think and act with wisdom and compassion.
There will be new temptations to be petty, small or selfish…
May I choose wisely and well from waking to day’s end…
and go forth be a blessing to all I meet.
~Edited lines by Anon

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~James 1:5  ✝

**Image of moonflower getting ready to open by Natalie

1238. The man who says his evening prayer is a captain posting his sentinels so he can sleep. ~Edited except from Charles Baudelaire

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In the quiet curve of evening,
in the sinking of the days,
in the silky void of darkness,
You are there.
In the lapses of my breathing,
in the space between my ways,
in the crater carved by sadness,
You are there.
You are there, You are there, You are there.

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In the rests between the phrases,
in the cracks between the stars,
in the gaps between the meaning,
You are there.
In the melting down of endings,
in the cooling of the sun,
in the solstice of the winter,
You are there.
You are there, You are there, You are there.

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In the mystery of my hungers,
in the silence of my rooms,
in the cloud of my unknowing,
You are there.
In the empty cave of grieving,
in the desert of my dreams,
in the tunnel of my sorrow,
You are there.
You are there. You are there. You are there.
~Julie Howard

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May my prayer be set before you(God) like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. ~Psalm 141: 2  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

1227. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. ~Mahatma Gandhi

When I despair, I remember that all through
history the ways of truth and love
have always won. There have been tyrants,
and murderers, and for a time they can
seem invincible, but in the end
they always fall. Think of it–always.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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I have heard from two friends today whose hearts have been hurt deeply. And as we all do, they are questioning why and how people can be so hateful and hurtful. Years ago when I was coping with a very hurtful situation, a friend of mine told me that only “hurting people hurt other people.” And over the years since I’ve come to see that Jack was exactly right. But then that doesn’t address another part of my friend’s questioning which was a.) do I think there are more hurting people these days and b.) if so, why? Before I answer that, let me say first that the fact that one of the Adam and Eve’s children killed his brother did not bode well for mankind’s ability to co-exist from the get go. We live in a fallen world in which good and evil do exist and have from the moment the choice was made to defy God’s will. And millennia after millennia has provided more than adequate evidence of a common inability as a whole to be loving and to get along peacefully. Now to address two of her queries; yes, I do think there are more hurting, hateful people, and the source is the media and the internet as you suggested. Just look at what we are being fed 24/7–It’s “cool” to be a bad-ass, it’s “cool” to be disrespectful, it’s “cool” to bully others, it’s “cool” get revenge and on and on it goes around the clock and ad nauseum. But like Gandhi I’ve not lost faith in mankind’s ability to self-correct. And it all starts with each and everyone one of us. The tools at our easy disposal are kind words, kind gestures, and lots of smiles especially to and with those who are hell-bent on behaving badly. We also have to choose to surround ourselves with people who support and affirm who and what we are; we have to choose to walk away from those who want to fight verbally or physically; we have to choose to forgive transgressions which in the end if not released only poison ourselves; we have to choose to be kind to ourselves as well by finding or creating some kind of sacred space where we can restore and re-energize our emotional well being; we have to choose to leave any and all past hurts behind us never to be brought into the present again; and we have to find places and ways to sit in silence in order to listen to the still, small voice inside who loves us and wants to heal our brokenness. And finally we have to greet each day and each breath with gratitude for the gifts that they are; we have to learn when enough is enough; we have to realize the finiteness of each breath, each step, each day; and for heaven’s sake we have to quit trying to seek a “version” of ourselves and find the real, authentic person inside. Is all of the above easy to do? No, but then what is in this life? Is it essential that we try? Yes, for the ones we leave behind when we are gone!

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… ~Luke 6:27  ✝

**Image via Pinterest