1369. Beauty. –A sun which dwells in the souls of all… ~“A Chapter of Definitions,” Daily Crescent, 1848, June 23rd

Beauty unites all things, 
links together flower and star,
with chains more certain 
than those of reason.
The poet, the artist, thus finds
 the clue which
guides them in their 
pilgrimage throughout the world.
~Henry James Slack,
The Ministry of the Beautiful, 1850

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As many of you know, I have suffered with chronic pain since I was around 25 years old, and since I will be 75 in 6 months, that’s 50 years of coping not only to survive the pain but to thrive in life as well. In a recent conversation regarding that statistic a fellow blogger thought it interesting that I surround myself with beauty and lovely words. And it occurred to me that I, in fact, had been doing that more and more as the years rolled on. Maybe I some how knew they could and would help me survive the “dark nights of the soul” and “guide me through my difficult pilgrimage in this world.” And perhaps again ‘tis why finding this clematis abloom in the yard this week thrilled me almost beyond what words can adequately convey. But as I think it’s important for all of us to find something profoundly uplifting for ourselves, I shall try. Last spring I went in a local nursery to buy some seeds, and as I made my way to the back of the store where they were kept, I passed this pure white clematis you see in the photo. But since I had already spent my bi-monthly yard allowance,  I forced myself to walk on by. I hadn’t gone very far however, when I decided to go back and see how much the beauty was. Of course it was a tad pricey as I expected, but it was so very beautiful and already full of buds. About that time I heard someone call my name and turned round to find my next door neighbor standing nearby. She asked what I was looking at and I told her to come and see. We both agreed it was exceptionally beautiful, and she asked if I was going to buy it. Woefully I told her, “No, I’d better not,” and headed off to get my seeds, and she headed up to the front to make her purchases. When I found my seeds, I did the same and even went down a different aisle so as not to be tempted to go over budget. And I actually got almost to the cash register before I said to myself, “Natalie, you know you will regret it a hundred times over if you don’t buy something you love that much.” So I went back, picked it up, and brought it home. For weeks, its blooms delighted me and then as the summer’s torrid heat befell us, it quit blooming which is what happens here with a lot of things. But to my utter surprise, it began blooming again in the fall when the temps began to drop below the “fry” level. So I patted myself on the back for having bought it because not only was it beautiful, it was also going to be a repetitive source of joy and delight. Then as winter approached, I hired someone to come clear the yard of all the spent and dead perennials. Unfortunately the industrious little soul took it upon himself to venture into the area where this treasure was, and by the time I discovered him there, he had already cut it completely down to the ground. So after he left, I lamented with tears that it might not come back in the spring, and that even if it did, it might not bloom for another year or two. So you can imagine how excited I was when a few weeks ago, I saw new growth coming up from where it had been. Then as it climbed up and up and I discovered buds, I squealed like a happy child. Finally to find a few days ago that one of the buds had opened was all that it took for the “sun to bloom in my soul” despite some recent very difficult pain-filled days. Everyone faces trials and suffering in this world, not the same as mine perhaps, but suffering nonetheless. So I pray that all of you find some way or some things that let the sun shine in your soul as well as guide you on your path and pilgrimage through life. God’s Holy Spirit will indwell in you, if you but believe in Him and ask, and it is the Holy Spirit who will point the way to the “sun,” the light that will illuminate and hearten your passage here.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~John 14:26  ✝

1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1150. Sow the living part of yourselves in the furrow of life. ~Miguel de Unamuno

Two years ago, I was saying as I
planted seeds in the garden,
“I must believe in these seeds,
that they fall into the earth and grow
into flowers and radishes and beans.”
It is a miracle to me because
I do not understand it.  The very fact
that they use glib technical phrases to
describe the process does not make it any
less a miracle, and a miracle we all accept.
Then why not accept God’s miracles?
~Edited lines by Dorothy Day

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Part of the genius of God’s miracles and grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and His vitality that has been stored in the seeds of our being, seeds that possess the same strength as that of the rising sun, earth’s swelling seas, and its fertile plains. An excellent time to look for the shining of His everlasting light in the “sanctuary of the soul” is in the first waking moments of each new day. That inward realm is where doors open to the germination of new life because inside each one of us the Lord has planted His “seeds of greatness.” There’s never a moment in life when either in and of ourselves or in the people around us that there are not yet unopened gifts of promise. Simply put, “heaven’s creativity on earth” is born in our bodies, and therein the Master’s “sacred hopes” are hidden. His hopes can come to fruition through the germination of our gifts and through the catalyst of prayer when we lift up “the agonies of life in the world” and ask for grace where “the human soul has grown hard” and lost sight of God’s light.

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. ~Psalm 77:14 ✝

**Image of Lotus pod with sseeds via Pinterest

1348. Man is his own most vexing problem. ~Reinhold Niebuhr

To allow oneself to be carried away by
a multitude of conflicting concerns,
to surrender to too many demands,
to commit to too many projects,
to want to help everyone in everything
is itself to succumb to the violence of our times.
Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace.
It destroys the fruitfulness of our work,
because it kills the root of inner wisdom
which makes work fruitful.
~Thomas Merton

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Thomas Merton

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake. ~Psalm 23:1-3  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest; special effects created by me on iPiccy

1339. There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way. ~Libba Bray

Glory be to you, O God,
for the grace of new beginnings
placed before me in every moment
and encounter, good or bad, of life.
~Edited quote by
John Philip Newell

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Wood as found in the natural world is, in and of itself, beautiful; the same is true of marble. However if wood is to be used in the making of a violin for example, some tools needed to hollow and shape the wood accordingly are chisels, knives, saws, scrapers. groove cutters, hole reamers, and peg shavers. And some tools needed to gouge and shape something out of marble are chisels, hammers, drills, rasps, files, and abrasive sandpapers, all of which in both instances can and do draw blood and extract the proverbial “pound of flesh” if used on we mortals. And the point of such is? Well, in a way these processes correlate to human suffering and what it can and often does achieve in a person’s life. For it is not until the wood is gouged out and shaped that its “voice,” AKA it’s exquisite sound, is released from the wood to bless our ears, and it is not until someone like Michelangelo gouges around and in a piece of marble that magnificent angels appear from deep inside the marble’s being to bless our eyes. So it was that when reading a comment today by a fellow blogger who has endured much “gouging,” it finally dawned on me in light of her struggles and mine as well as those of others that it is not until the soul is “gouged” out that we mortals are able to give “voice” in some way to garnered wisdom and profound truths. Thus trials should be seen as gifts to be embraced and celebrated, not mourned and regretted. However being appreciative of pain is something most of us find difficult at best. Clearly though “had the eye no tear, the soul would have no rainbow” nor would the dark depths of the soul ever come into healing light. The passages of Scripture below as well as others tell us to be “content” and even “thankful” about losses and painful trials for they are blessings brought forth from the scraping, gouging, and shaping the Lord has done and continues to do in our souls in order to set free “earth” angels, to give life to sacred and powerful voices, to fulfill ordained purposes, and to help bring about the memory of what we left in childhood that my dear friend calls the “soft glory of our being.”

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4  ✝

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ~Romans 12:12  ✝

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:10  ✝

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ~1 Peter 5:10  ✝

**Image found on the Internet; special effects done on by me on spicy

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

1327. I must have flowers, always, and always. ~Claude Monet

Flowers seem intended for the
solace of ordinary humanity.
~John Ruskin

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Last weekend one of my grandsons went with me to do our grocery shopping. When I told him to stop a minute at the floral department, he asked if I bought flowers every week, and I replied with a boisterous “yes.” That made him chuckle at first; then he became curious and asked me why. I replied with Monet’s exact declaration above. Since then I’ve been contemplating why I have that compelling need but have been able to come up little more than that they are beautiful, they cheer me up, and they are fun to replicate with a camera or on a canvas. Since I’m not much of an artist however, a camera and editing programs are much more able to help me create good images than those I try to achieve with paints or pens. Not only that, because I’m one of those people who has a persistent and irresistible urge to find beauty and be creative, even the tiniest of flowers can satisfy both those needs.

Passions, who can say from whence they come
or why, but I for one am glad there’s solace,
comfort, and joy to be found in them, for ‘tis they
that bringeth the light needed to make it through
the dark nights of my soul, and it’s evident that the
Lord of heaven and earth whom I adore and seek
finds them to be so as well for one learns much of
Him and His heart in the Genesis account of Creation.

There is no atom in earth but is alive and astir in the all-penetrating splendor of God. From the infinitesimal to the infinite, everything is striving to express the thought of His Presence with which it overflows. ~Lucy Larcom

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20  ✝

**Photo taken by Natalie and the special effects and border were done by her on iPiccy