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  ✝

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

1290. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench the inner light of providence. ~John O’Donohue

Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit
that secretly links it to everything else.
~John O’Donohue

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There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility and our hearts to love life. Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing. Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing. ~John O’Donohue

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. ~Psalm 128:2  ✝

**All quotes via TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US, A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue; photo of Moonflower taken by Natalie

1247. September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours… ~Rowland E. Robinson

Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands.
In Christ we see God suffering – for us.
And calling us to share in God’s
suffering love for a hurting world.
The small and even overpowering pains
of our lives are intimately connected
with the greater pains of Christ.
Our daily sorrows are anchored in a
greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen

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As I grapple with summer’s still sweltering heat, I have to remind myself that humanity has observed adverse aberrations of nature millennium after millennium and that out of the chaos order eventually returns.  Author, Peter Saint-Andre, says  nature “can inspire, enlighten, send shivers up the spine, delight, anger, frighten; it can make one think, feel, shake one’s head in astonishment, cry, laugh out loud; it can evoke feelings of triumph, melancholy, light-heartedness, serenity, excitement, boredom, rightness, anxiety, joy, sorrow.”  And I agree with him on all counts but until some level of coolness settles, it is challenging for me to experience much excitement and serenity.  Only now when, in the midst of the feverish misery, the wild purple eryngo blooms does the melancholy begin to lift a little.

Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love. ~Lamentations 3:32  ✝

**Image taken by me along a country road in our area. These amethystine beauties can be found blooming  this time of year in fields ravaged by summer’s heat.

1104. All you ever longed for is before you in this moment if you dare draw in a breath and a whisper “Yes.” ~Danna Faulds

Despite doubt or hopeless turns of mind, you are not broken.
Spirit surrounds, embraces, fills you from the inside out.
Release everything that isn’t your true nature.
What’s left, the fullness, light and shadow,
claim all that as your birthright.
~Danna Faulds

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A door opens. Maybe I’ve been standing here shuffling my weight from foot to foot for decades, or maybe I only knocked once. In truth, it doesn’t matter. A door opens and I walk through without a backward glance. This is it, then, one moment of truth in a lifetime of truth; a choice made, a path taken, the gravitational pull of Spirit too compelling to ignore any longer. I am received by something far too vast to see. It has roots in antiquity but speaks clearly in the present tense. “Be,” the vastness says. “Be without adverbs, descriptors, or qualities. Be so alive that awareness bares itself uncloaked and unadorned. Then go forth to give what you alone can give, awake to love and suffering, unburdened by the weight of expectations. Go forth to see and be seen, blossoming, always blossoming into your magnificence. ~Danna Faulds

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4  ✝

**Image found on the Internet

 

1096. It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing. ~John O’Donohue

Though suffering and chaos befall us,
they can never quench the inner light of providence.
~John O’Donohue

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There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.
It draws no attention to itself,
though it is always secretly there.
It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty,
our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.
Without this subtle quickening our days
would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon
would ever awaken our longing.
Our passion for life is quietly sustained from
somewhere in us that is welded to the energy
and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what
enables us to recognize and receive our
very presence here as blessing.
We enter the world as strangers who all at once
become heirs to a harvest of memory,
spirit, and dream that has long preceded us
and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us.
The gift of the world is our first blessing.

This is the opening paragraph of the book
“To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings” 

by John O’Donohue

They will receive blessing from the Lord… ~Excerpt from Psalm 24:5  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

754. It took a lone assent of self to get back up… ~Julie Cook (https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/about/)

A voice beneath the surface
Speaks
Echoes into my
Inner being
Inner heart
Inner mind
Blessing me
With
Strength to arise
~Yoshiko
(https://zyoshiko.wordpress.com/author/yoshikoz/)

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We are more than what people see on the surface. We are narratives, stories that make us who and what we are. And the stories are ripe with sorrows and joys, defeats and victories, love and loss, suffering and wellness–all those things each of us must face in life. And like my friend, Virginia, says “when you shed light on your past and how it affected you, it illustrates the transition that occurred to mold you into the person you are today.” So here I go with the next installment in my little story.

After being stuck in limbo the first semester of my sophomore year, I eventually found the strength to rise, albeit on wobbly and unsure legs at times, and I began the “lone assent of self” back into the mainstream of life. It was the summer of ‘62 and I had decided to continue working half a day for the Dean of Women as well as get a couple of courses out of the way in summer school. Since I only worked in the afternoons, I had some time on my hands after my morning classes were over, and what better place to go than the student center where food and friends awaited a hungry “climber.” The living was easy that summer and life was good. I had met some new friends who were teaching me to play bridge. And soon Keith, Danny, and I were playing bridge well enough to play in competition, and that summer would become one of the most memorable ones of my life. To be continued… (2 weeks, 5 days and counting…)

…weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 ✝

**Image of old French, 1902 calendar page found on Pinterest