1187. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape. ~Excerpt from an article by David Whyte@gratefulness.org

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Stop what you are doing right now! Just stop for a minute! Close your eyes and feel the in and out movement of your breath. Keep your eyes closed, stay still a little longer, and feel your heart beating. Now open your eyes, take in all the colors and sights around you, and recognize the blessing of sight. Then listen to any sounds you hear and be thankful for you ears and the blessing of both sound and silence. Next reach out your hands and touch something, anything, and become aware of its textures or smoothness, hardness or softness–all those things that come with the blessing of touch. After that find something to take a bite or sip of, and as you chew or swallow, savor and enjoy the flavor and taste of whatever it is. Last, before you return to what you were or were not doing, try to wrap your mind around the “many millions of things that had to come together and live together and mesh together” for all those gifts to be realities in your world. Almost 4 years ago, a day came when all that was threatened to be over for me as the result of 2 clots in my brain. Never, ever take for granted the gifts, the blessings, the miracles, and especially the Giver of the “many millions of things!” Thank you Jesus for this day, these gifts, and your faithfulness!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5  ✝

**Image via Pixabay; text added by Natalie

16. The trees reflected in the river– they are unconscious of a spiritual world so near to them. So are we. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

A Ming vase can be well-designed
and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone.
I don’t think this can be true for photography.
Unless there’s is something a little
incomplete and a little strange,
it will simply look like a copy of something pretty.
~John Loengard

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The annual beauty in a garden once spent is gone forever, except in memory, if not captured in some way.  A camera is one of the ways we who love nature’s fleeting glory take it captive.  Unlike Loengard, I believe photos can be more than just an uninteresting copy of a beautiful thing.  For example part of what you see in the photograph above started out as that of a single rose.  However, as an experiment with some computer technology, I turned the image into something “a little strange,” as Leongard suggests, and it added another level of interest.  If one looks carefully at the altered image, fragmented pieces of what used to be negative spaces in the original photograph now have merged into engaging patterns, and so what can be seen raises questions about how much one really sees.  “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see,” claimed documentary photographer and photojournalist, Dorothea Lange. So it is that Hawthorne’s idea could be applied to my rose or his trees or to the reflection of anything, and it would speak a profound truth. We often don’t see what is right under our proverbial noses.  The eternal underlies everything mankind sees, tastes, hears, touches, and smells, so much so that all things seem to quiver from the Divine energy emitted from them.  But it’s only when the Lord’s demure presence is acknowledged that it becomes more and more keenly perceptible.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  ~2 Corinthians 4:18   ✝