1061. You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. ~Thomas Traherne


The voice of the sea
speaks to the soul.
The touch of the sea is sensuous,
enfolding the body 
in its soft,
close embrace.
~Kate Chopin

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I had to go. I just had to go down to the sea today if only through photographic memories. I haven’t been to the beach in so long, and it appears that I won’t get to go this year either, at least not for months and months. As a child, I was weaned and grew up on the beautiful, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and since then sand, shore, and sea have haunted me. Via sensory perceptions even as a young child I heard a voice, a clear voice-a familiar voice-a welcome voice-a sacred voice who reached down into the depths of my soul to touch me in ways that are still not easy to articulate. But here goes. Since the sea is always moving in its ceaselessness, I became aware of its cadenced rhythms early on. Day after day, night after night its undulations never stopped, and I found myself comforted by the sounds they created. Even when it was just along the shore and not out in a boat on the deep water, the songs of the sea continued to poignantly reverberate as they rolled in on the waves to the sandy shore. These were songs as primordial as the days and as ancient as the Holy One Himself who yet hovers over the waters, and when I sat quietly listening, waiting, and watching, I began to feel and internalize the pulsing rhythms of the sea while their songs filled up the space around me, its devout, hearkening witness. “Wild silences,” as haunting as the call of the gulls, were “heard” as well, and the elements of light and darkness affected and enhanced the ocean’s charms, chants, and silences as it enfolded me in its embrace. What’s more a lonely beach, devoid of crowds, also transports of delight to the magical, mystique of the sea. For it was then, and only then, that I was privy to the voices of the ocean’s more wistful “shy presences,” the ones with the subtle, emotive melodies.

If you look at the map in the collage you will see a blue marker where our house at 68 Prospect Avenue in Long Beach, California was. It was only a half a block from Ocean Boulevard, and once I crossed that busy street, all I had to do was take the stairs down from the seawall onto the sand. Between the houses on each street ran an alley way that you can see in one of the photos beneath the map. This passage way was one of my favorite places to travel as it was along those fences  that so many of the cherished, fragrant flowers grew, and in the distance you can actually see the ocean.

The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. ~Psalm 93:3  ✝

**Images via Pinterest and Safari; collage created by Natalie

565. Come, come thou bleak December wind, and blow the dry leaves from the tree! ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Through bare trees
I can be winter’s innocence,
unashamed needfulness,
the thin and reaching limbs 
of a beggar,
longing to touch 
but the hem of the sun.
~Lisa Lindsey

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It’s the first morn of December. It’s cold. It’s gray. Leaves are brown, dying, or gone. Branches already bare resemble arms reaching to the heavens for something or someone. A norther continues to blow open wider and wider the gates of the year’s Sabbath, and the wings and winds of change are palpable in the frosty air. In the garden’s resounding gong, in its tinkling wind chimes, and in its clanging bells I hear portents of the changes. I’m reminded not only by these sounds but also by the morning’s silences that December is a time of expectancy, a time of waiting, and a time of preparation; moreover, it is a time to share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s birth as well as a time to look forward to His second coming. And since our time coin for this year is almost spent, it is time now more than ever to let love reign our hearts, to let peace be our constant prayer, to let compassion and giving pour our of our gratitude for another year of Yahweh’s gifts, blessings, fulfilled promises, and miracles. And it is also time, now and always, to reach for the heavens and praise God for all that He is, for all that He has done, and all that He continues to do for His children!

Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. ~2 Chronicles 6:40   ✝

** Image via Pinterest, but edited by Natalie

562. Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods. ~William Wordsworth

Every leaf speaks bliss to me
fluttering from the autumn tree.
~Emily Brontë

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Brisk breezes are moving across the landscape today, and as a result it’s raining confetti-colored leaves. So it is that bone by bone by bone the garden’s structure is reappearing whilst that which was fleshed out in spring and summer withers or falls away. These, the yard’s skeletons, will remain, holding tightly to their promised renewal throughout months steeped in wintry chills. Even though bare and stripped of visible signs of life, they will yet proffer a comforting presence and a kind of beauty to those who watch and wait during cloudy coldness and rarer bouts of the sun’s warmth and mercy. And though they become pale and wan and washed in grays and beige, in the spreading silences, the wind whispers that they and life–that spark, that miracle, that breath–have not been vanquished; all is not lost as down, down, down into coming winter’s “vale of grief” we go.

Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. ~2 Samuel 19:23   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

236. Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale till its appropriate liberator comes to set it free. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry is not always words.
Poetry is a layering of meanings…
Poetry evokes emotional or sensual responses…
Poetry creates musical or incantatory effects…
Poetry forms connections not previously perceived…
~Audrey Foris

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There are “wordless voices,” as Foris suggests, and they speak in a variety of ways.  Some are heard in music instead of poetry while others are witnessed in the spectacle of a drama or ballet, or they may be perceived in the steps and rhythm of a dance routine.  Humans can’t help but find a way to express what profoundly breaks into their inner silences and urges expression for they, being made in the image of a limitless Creator, are innately creative in some way.

As for me an artist or a poet I am not, but the desire to be gifted in such a way inhabits my soul.  I’ve tried my hand many times at being both but any real talent for either continues to be imprisoned within me.  So now with no “appropriate liberator” in sight I try only with my camera to satisfy the yearning of my incarcerated artist, and from time to time, at least in my own eyes, I achieve a marginal level of success.  How could I not for in its vast array of choices, the earth is a wondrous wellspring even with nothing more than a point and shoot camera.  As for my jailed poet self, her craving is partially satiated because life and the natural world have a way of writing their own poetry even in a photograph and because accomplished others have published readily, accessible poetic works.

So God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.  ~Genesis 1:27  ✝

232. Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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How good it is to center down!  To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by!  The streets of our mind seethe with endless traffic; our spirits resound with clashings, with noisy silences, while something deep within hungers and thirsts for the still moment and the resting lull.  We look at ourselves in this waiting moment–the kinds of people we are.  The questions persist; what are we doing with our lives? What is the end of our doings?  Where is my treasure?  As we listen, floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence, there is a sound of another kind–a deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.  It moves directly to the core of our being.  Our questions are answered, our spirits are refreshed, and we move back into the traffic of our daily rounds with the peace of the Eternal in our step.  How good it is to center down!  ~Excerpt from For the Inward Journey by Howard Thurman, American author, philosopher, theologian, educator

Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.  ~Proverbs 8:34  ✝

15. The feeling remains that God is on the journey too. ~Teresa of Avila

God is always with you.
Simply turn your face to Him.
~Kirpal Singh

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When I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get up and go outside even if I have to bundle up under layers of clothes or suffer the misery of triple digit heat.  After wandering about my yard, its “shy presences” and silences begin to soothe me until eventually my inner compass restores the balance of my sanity.  The simple truth is that the rhythm of earth’s heartbeat has a way of drowning out the rabid mongrels in a world too often torn by senseless tragedies and horrific madness. When that happens I find that being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as was slipping my hand into the safety of my parents strong hands when I was a child.  Now that they are gone and I am grown, I find the same kind of comfort when I draw near the Lord and His ever-present occupancy her on earth.

J. Philip Newell asks, “Where do we look, therefore, to learn of God?   It’s not away from ourselves and away from Creation, but deep within all that has life.”  What better place then to do that than a garden?  Newell goes on to say that “in looking for the life of God by listening within we will hear falseness and confusion, selfishness and violence of heart, but deeper still is the Love that utters all things into being.”  I heard such a silent utterance when I felt my child first move in my womb; the sensation felt like that of a butterfly’s wings barely grazing my flesh, but more than than it felt like the gentle touch of the Holy One Himself inviting me to walk in with Him in Eden.

“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 flocks 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   ✝