1039. Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan. ~Albert Schweitzer

Oh to relive
those Old Sundays,
those sacred things…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

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My faith journey began long ago at a time when I was young enough that all I knew was unmarred innocence, youthful unawareness, and blind acceptance of what I’d been told and taught. In handmade, starched and often white organdy dresses and on feet in meticulously polished white shoes I’d enter with my family, as I’d been taught, solemnly and quietly into church buildings with their tall steeples and large, sonorous bells that called the masses to worship. Inside there was the unmistakable aroma of old wooden pews, time-worn Bibles, and tattered hymnals that spoke of countless others who had come before us to worship. And because it was a time of greater formality, we were greeted at the doors by ushers in dark suits wearing white carnations in their lapels; these men and/or women would hand us freshly printed programs as they led us down the aisle to a pew with red velvet cushions, cushions that had seen many a day and been sat on by a multitude of churchgoers. Somewhere along the way to our seats, I would encounter an image of the Christ who was portrayed as a man with soft brown hair and a sweet face. When all who had heeded the call to worship were seated, the acolytes would march in under gothic arches carrying state and national flags in the glow of blue, red, green, and yellow light streaming through the stained-glass windows. On their heels came the choir and the robed pastoral staff. Once everyone was in place, choral voices led us in songs before we were implored to make affirmations of faith and recite the Lord’s prayer. Then came the giving of tithes in gold offertory plates, before we drank from silver chalices filled with the “Blood of Christ” and took from a silver plate the bread wafer that symbolized the “Body of Christ.” All the while these sacred things were taking place, a large pipe organ played softly in the background behind flickering candles and pretty flowers on altars covered in sacramental cloths. Finally by the time all was said and done within the hallowed gray, stone walls, we had sung a number of old familiar hymns, shouted amens, listened to a tutorial sermon, bowed our heads for the holy benedictions, read words of Scripture, raised our arms and voices in praise, and prayed for friends and neighbors as well as the hungry and the needy. And all of it was fervently carried out in hopes that God, was then and would always be with us, listen to our pleas, and answer our prayers.

Sadly at a church after we moved here I witnessed such widespread hypocrisy and intolerant prejudice by clergy and church members alike that I stopped going to church and turned away from Lord and His teachings at the age of 19.  However, the Good Shepherd would not let go of that which was rightfully His and so He pursued me for the next two decades as He does all of His wandering and lost “sheep” until one day I turned to listen to His voice again. Soon afterwards I chose to walk back into a church, and fortunately it was one where sincere sanctity appeared to be palpable and devout holiness seemed to permeate all that and who had gathered to honor and consecrate the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ. It felt like home and I knew I was home. As sentient beings, everything we encounter evokes some kind of emotional response from us which affects both flesh and psyche. So powerful and evocative are such experiences sometimes that there have been people who are healed of life-threatening diseases by constantly picturing themselves in times and places of the past wherein they were happy and well and sensed the presence of the Almighty.

Experience life in all possible ways –
good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter.
Experience all the dualities.
Don’t be afraid of experience,
because the more experience you have,
the more mature you become.
~Osho

The sacred pathway is
not hard, children
know it…
~S. Michaels at https://5wise.wordpress.com

…if I(Paul) am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. ~1 Timothy 3:15-16  ✝

**All but one image via Pinterest; collage by Natalie, and one photo of Natalie

813. Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise. ~Alice Walker

Be happy for this moment.
This moment is your life.
~Oman Khayyam

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I’ve learned to love the quiet moments…
the Sunday mornings of life.
~India Arie

I wonder what it feels like to bloom like this, to be this wondrous, to be this beautiful, and to be a miracle! Seeing such as this should inspire mortals to be as confident of their own beauty and wondrousness as to bloom into the amazing miracle that they too are!

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. ~Ecclesiastes 3:12  ✝

313. And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have dipped again in God, and new-created. ~Excerpt from a poem by D. H. Lawrence

The last fling of winter is over…
The earth, the soil itself,
has a dreaming quality about it.
It is warm now to the touch;
it has come alive;
it hides secrets that in a moment,
in a little while, it will tell.
~Donald Culross Peattie

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In winter the earth sleeps peacefully and sinks “in good oblivion” as it readies itself for another spring.  Then morning after morning upon arrival of the vernal equinox, the “new-opened flowers dipped again in God, ” as it were, appear.  It seems to me to be the same for us in the changing seasons of our lives for we, too, are dipped again in God whenever we are “new-created” for the next phase of our lives.

“…then I must know that still I am in the hands of the unknown God,
He is breaking me down to His own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.”
~Excerpt from same poem by D. H. Lawrence

In early civilizations the fact that food supplies were soon to be restored was one of the reasons spring’s coming was especially revered.  Later on it became significant with the spread of Christianity because Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the vernal equinox.  Thus springtime reveals the hidden secrets of the soil, and the risen Christ reveals the secrets hidden in our souls if we but follow Him and listen.

The secret things belong to the Lord, our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.  ~Deuteronomy 29:29   ✝

179. November’s sky is chill and drear, November’s leaf is red and sear. ~Sir Walter Scott

Pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem:
There’s not a leaf that falls upon the ground
But holds some joy of silence of sound,
Some spirits begotten of a summer dream.
~Laman Blanchard

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The first Sunday of November had been running out like slow, thick molasses as deepening autumn’s shades of gray hung on it like a shroud.  Even the flocks of busying birds and the foraging squirrels succumbed, as did I, to the hypnotic laziness of the day’s dark, engulfing gloom.  However, things became a little livelier for a time late in the day when the cement on the patio became a dance floor filled with tiny rain-drop dancers jitterbugging to the short-lived “drippy” rhythms.  After the rainy spell light broke briefly through the clouds, and it was enough to highlight a few colorful leaves and a potted petunia.  Together those two sights interjected a touch of color while the wrought-iron furniture that glistened in the light added a bit of beaded elegance to the drab scene.  How sweetly even a token display of earth’s delights can thrill this observer!

Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.  ~Job 22:26  ✝