1013. I saw old autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening 
to silence. ~Thomas Hood

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things.  It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir(way of knowing).
~Wallace Stevens

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O splendid, lusty autumn, you who come with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, with cooler days and lengthening chilly nights, it is, I’m sad to say, time for you to go. This year’s first frosts have come and gone, migratory birds have vanished over distant horizons, and crops have been harvested from garden and field alike. And all the while your while beauty and bounty “shined unconfined” as your days spread a “common feast for all that live.” Grateful are we to God and thee, o “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” that rains fell in good measure and gusty winds laid abundant, leafy blankets over the ground in protective readiness against winter’s icy blasts.

silence
seeks the center
of every tree and rock,
that thing we hold closest
-
the end of mere songs
~Michael McClintock

O Lord, I have truly enjoyed listening to nature’s solemn, autumnal hymns once again. And I’ve watched in wonder as leaf upon leaf floated down disrobing the earth. Now I find delight in the millions of shining stars I can see through the bare tree branches, and I know, according to Your promises, that when autumn’s allotted sands of time run out of this year’s hourglass that it’s not an ending. So I’ll go to bed tonight assured that with the arrival of the winter solstice near midnight this evening that the slamming shut of fall’s back door is in reality just a new beginning, a fresh start that will usher in another season, a season of restful silences. Thus at the morrow’s first light, I will rise and begin in earnest to prepare my heart to welcome Your son, Emmanuel, and to rest–to rest, to observe, to listen, and to continue worshiping You.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. ~Genesis 8:22  ✝

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585. On the first day of winter, the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself. ~Laura Lush

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!
~Excerpt from poem 
by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Winter is Awakening
The Solstice Sun is Rising

The Heart of Nature
dreaming
Poems of Earth
now sleeping

The Seasons are
weaving
The journeys
of Creation

The Seeds
are Quickening
in Mother Nature’s
Sacred Wing

~Edited poem by Victoria Pettella

Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. ~1 Corinthians 16:6   ✝
(Paul was speaking here to Christ followers in Corinth, but this could well be a prayer we lift up unto the Lord for safe passage through winter’s dark realm.)

**Image via Pinterest

580. Once more on our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds… ~John Burroughs

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
~Alfred Lord Tennyson

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With every north wind that blows the landscape decomposes more and more, and the air grows a little wilder with falling leaves. After each assault layer upon layer of the leafy insulation blankets the lawn and beds in more warmth to protect them from coming winter’s icy blasts. Above, the branches, if not already bare, are now dotted with only a smattering of leaves. They, the ones too tenacious to let go so far, cannot hold on much longer though because the winter solstice will be upon us in less than a week. These brisk northerly winds have also taken a toll on the once verdant and supple, ornamental grasses. Many of them have begun drying out and taking on a shabby, tattered look, but among the shades of brown, remain a few tinged with glorious color. Autumn may be beset with more gray than sunny days and quelling blows night after night, but some continue to hold a measure of winsome smiles and “honey’d leavings.” And as the lusty song of life plays on, earth yet murmurs, “come play again with me,” a call, way, way too alluring for me to ignore.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. ~Isaiah 40:8   ✝

546. God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. ~Martin Luther

The Fall of the year
is more than three months
bounded by an equinox and a solstice.
It is a summing up without
the finality of year’s end.
~Hal Borland

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As we backed out of the garage not long ago, we saw this, the clearly defined, edge of a line of the thunderstorms. As I took the photograph, it occurred to me that in a much slower progression, that’s the way all of the aberrations of nature pass over the earth during the course of a year. Sunny days come and go, hot and cold periods come and go, flowers come and go, fruitings and harvests come and go–in other words God’s good provisions are always in a never-ending flux of comings and goings. Autumn then, as Borland says, is indeed a summing up of what’s happened throughout a year’s trip around the sun, and thankfully it only takes away what the gardener holds dear a little bit at a time. We may be just steps away from winter, but given earth’s history of unfailing continuance we are not too many steps further away from spring. So to recall a familiar phrase, all’s well that ends well, especially when we’re blessed with the divine promise for more. Is there any way God’s enduring love and goodness could be even the slightest bit more grand!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
~Psalm 136:1-9    ✝

441. Bees do have smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury

The first week of August
hangs at the top of summer,
the top of the live-long year,
like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel
when it pauses turning.
The weeks that come before
are only a climb from balmy spring,
and those that follow 
a drop to the chill of autumn,
but August is motionless and hot.
~Natalie Babbit

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Months have passed since the jasmine climbed, the wisteria dangled, the snapdragons snapped, the poppies popped, and the birds obeyed spring’s pressing summons to build nests and procreate. Then after the summer solstice came and summer’s fires were stoked, the feverfew grew feverish, the pink loose-strife broke loose, the inland sea oats set sail on an ocean of green along the fence, and Columbine’s dove-like clusters turned brown, split open and spilled their bits of black seed bounty upon the ground. And whilst all this blooming was going on, the divine music of life that reached glorious crescendos in April grew more mellow in May, perkily sassy in June, and feverishly sultry in July. Two days hence from now, it would normally fall into a low, oppressed hum as August opens the doors to the boiler room, but strangely enough we are and will be for the next week experiencing some cooler than usual days. Though curious about the reason for such a blessing, I’ve learned never “to look a gift horse in the mouth.” The bees busily gathering nectar may grumble somewhat at this interloping gardener who sometimes stays too long in their domain or who moves to close in proximity to their pollen-rich environments such as the Texas Star Hibiscus in the photo, but grumble I shall not because normally this time of year we’re looking at the possibility of a record setting number of triple-digit-high days, days way, way too hot to enjoy even briefly being outside.

I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. ~Hosea 13:5   ✝

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! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

323. Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds, but animated nature sweeter still, to soothe and satisfy the human ear. ~William Cowper

There’s music in the sighing of a reed;
There’s music in the gushing of a rill;
There’s music in all things, if men had ears;
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
~Lord Byron

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The wings of spring have taken flight in the feisty winds of March. In so doing they have lifted Columbine’s curving, knob-tipped spurs on fanciful flights. Spilling down from deep in the throats of the yellow, flowering “bells” are stunning filaments and anthers which are like tiny, musical tongues issuing forth sweet, golden proclamations. Winter, as inanimate as it seems, has a lyrical sound, but the sounds of spring as the earth reanimates itself are far richer and more honeyed. They along with the other silvery sounds of spring are soft-hearted and serene in the beginning; however, as spring grows long in the tooth and summer approaches, the arias reach almost deafening crescendos. Then after the solstice passes, summer moves along to a steady, hot latino beat until autumn comes again and tones down earth’s rhythms with ripe, mellower tones. We, mortals, may never understand the what and where of earth’s magic and music, but that certainly can’t stop us from enjoying it nor from adoring the mysteries of the music’s Maker.  Lest one believe that it is only poets, writers, and musicians who hear the music of the natural world, let me say that it was Giuseppe Mazzini, an influential Italian political thinker, who said, “Music is the harmonious voice of Creation, and echo of the invisible world.”  I believe the love of music comes from the Lord because He gave birds their songs, and also those who love and compose music are created in God’s image.

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Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent. ~Victor Hugo

Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre. Psalm 33:2 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us!

222. Green thoughts emerge from some deep source of stillness which the very fact of winter has released. ~Michael Osler

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I was called from the darkness by the song of the earth,
I joined in the singing and she gave me birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be,
I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

The moon in her phases and the tides of the sea,
the movement of the Earth, and the seasons that will be
Are rhythm for the dancing and a promise through the years–
The Dance goes on through joy and tears.
~Excerpts from the Lord of the Dance, traditional

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The Winter Solstice that arrives tomorrow is an annual event shrouded in ancient lore.  The words which mean “sun set still in winter” are derived from the Latin.  For ages the Winter Solstice was seen as a special and critical moment in the cycle of a year.  From neolithic times the physical remains at New Grange and Stonehenge in the British Isles have attested to this because their primary axes seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line framing the winter solstice at sunrise in New Grange and at sunset in Stonehenge.  Given that these earliest communities were not assured of living through the winter, the time of the solstice had to be marked because it was of maximum importance for which preparations had to be made during the previous nine months.  Today, for many, the shortest day of the year simply means that winter has arrived and for the next six months there will be a bit more daylight each day.  For those who follow Christ through His teachings, the solstice opens the doors on celebrations honoring His, the Messiah’s birth.  Christ is our Lord of the Dance, and He has come that all may join Him in the dance of life by accepting His offer of salvation.  “Sing we now of Christmas!”

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  ~Mark 1:1  ✝