1379. Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

Poetry should…should strike the reader
as a wording of his own highest thoughts,
and appear almost a remembrance.
~John Keats

Some of you know that I was an educator for 31 years. What you don’t know is that in the 8th grade I declared to family and friends that I would never become a teacher, especially an English teacher. But as it turned out I did become one and though it was not my first or second chosen teaching field, I ended up teaching English for half of my career. And like all else whatever we spend time doing has a profound influence on our lives. I’ve always had a great respect for literature and writers and storytellers. One of them. as I mentioned in a recent post, is Mary Oliver. When I read her poetry it’s as if she has been writing what dwells within my heart and soul. They are so accurate and she does it in a way that had I her ability I would have written them myself. But ya know, we don’t all have to be gifted to tell tales of our lives which might be what someone else needs or longs to hear. And I believe I can say with certitude that there’s not a single one of you who are reading this who were not profoundly impacted by at least one teacher in your life. Secondly, my guess is that their influence had little to do with academic subject matter. I expect it was stories they told or wove to reach you and teach you that made all the difference in your life. So never be afraid to share you grief and joys, triumphs and sorrows, whatever it is you hold dear or keep close for you never know when or where a listening ear will find remembrance and/or life-sustaining importance in them. ‘Tis even more important that you do so if the tale(s) tell of God’s grace, mercy, faithfulness, and abiding love for His children!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. ~Acts 20:24 ✝

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver

Photo of grasshopper on rose taken in her yard by Natalie

1344. “Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” (~John 8:58 ✝), a passage of Scripture which tells us that the Lord existed before His human life on earth.

The passages of Holy Writ below are seven other
“I am” statements made by our Lord.

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“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” ~John 6:35  ✝

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” ~John 8:12  ✝

“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” ~John 10:9  ✝

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” ~John 10:11  ✝

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” ~John 11:25  ✝

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” ~John 14:6  ✝

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” ~John 15:1  ✝

The great “I am” had:
no servants, yet they called him Master.
no degree, yet they called him Teacher.
no medicines, yet they called him Healer.
no army, yet kings feared Him.
won no military battles, yet He overcame the world
and conquered death.
committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
And though He was buried in a tomb,
yet He lives today. His name is Jesus.

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 found on the Internet; text box addd by Natalie

1200. Every day, you get the opportunity to change your life. ~Rodolfo Costa

You are an instrument of God.
Don’t leave the instrument
sitting in its case my son. Play!
Leave no part of your instrument unexplored.
~Abraham Verghese

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I don’t normally share this “bragging” kind of information, but it’s the recognition of a goal I’d set for myself. And in achieving it, it has silenced old naysaying ghosts and proved that even an old, gray-haired lady without any particularly impressive credentials or talents can fulfill, in some way, long held hankerings. As an educator and a parent, I always encouraged my students and my daughter to explore avenues that led to dreams or desires they held. To that end, James and I afforded for our daughter, ballet lessons, karate lessons, violin lessons, swimming lessons–in general anything she came home and said she’d like to try. As it turned out her skills as a swimmer earned her 5 full collegiate scholarships. Then there were the graduate degrees she attained. Though these things are no longer her little niches in the grand scheme of things, they’ve served her well, helped develop her character and values, and left her with no “what if” regrets. For me it was different, unless my dreams served a “practical” purpose, I was denied the pursuit of them. For example, I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be a singer but of course all such things were not at all “practical” and certainly no one could make a living doing them according to my parents. Then when it came time for college (something that no one on either side of my family had had the privilege and opportunity to attend), mom decided that it would be great if I became a teacher even though I  didn’t want to be one. But since my father had just passed away leaving her to finish raising their 3 teenage daughters on her own and she had quashed all my other longings, what else could I do but be the dutiful daughter a girl of that era had no other choice but to be. But then came the day when the dutiful daughter retired after 31 years of teaching and chose to find ways to address those long held hungers. Now although she may not be an artist, she can take pretty darned good photos. Although she’s not a dancer, she and her hubby can scoot their boots pretty darned well around a dance floor. Although she’s not an published author, she can knock out some fair-to-middling prose now and again. And so today after starting my blog with NO followers 3 years ago, WP notified me that I hit 1000 followers. It may seem a small number to some of you, but my little previously unanswered “what if” regrets are singing Hallelujah choruses because at long last I’m playing my instrument in an attempt to serve God whose instrument I am.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. ~Exodus 9:16 ✝

1092. Learning is a gift, even when pain is the teacher. ~Maya Watson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
~Emily Dickinson

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Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
~Emily Dickinson

But there is a promised hope for those accept Christ’s offer of salvation because in Scripture we are told: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~Revelation 21:3-4 ✝

720. O, the month of May, the merry month of may… ~Thomas Dekker

Ho! the merrie first of Maie
Brings the daunce and blossoms gaie
To make of lyfe a holiday!
~Old English saying

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Thousands of years ago winter was a time to honor death and the summer a time to honor life. In those ancient times the short days, grey skies, and cold temperatures began to wear people down and that coupled with a gradual decline in food supplies took its toll on their spirits. Indeed winter was a very difficult time for the ancients, and so the coming of summer brought them great hope. As the crops and grasslands became full of life again, the animals bred, and the warmth of the sun thawed out the earth and their spirits, they celebrated the cross-over and coming change in the human cycle that reflected the turning of the seasons. It was a time for celebrating the forces of life overcoming death, light overcoming darkness, and summer overcoming winter.

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Thus began the dancing around the May pole. A kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th century, began as a traditional artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences. An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the US well into the 1950’s.

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I remember in elementary school making May baskets and flowers out of coloredl pieces of construction paper and crepe paper. Today May Day has many different meanings, if any, but it eventually found its place in Christianity. And though considered quaint now, in decades past, like dancing around the maypole, as the month of April rolled to an end, people begin gathering flowers and candies and goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors, and loved ones on May 1st. And there were even rules about the basket tradition:

1.  Giving was supposed to be anonymous. Reciprocity was not expected. One was to leave the basket on the doorknob or doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
2.  Children were to give to grownups, instead of the other way around. On almost every other holiday, only the child receives gifts; so they don’t get to experience the true joy of unselfish giving.

He(Jesus) told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near…” ~Luke 21:29-30   ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collages created by Natalie

475. To one who has been long in city pent, ‘tis sweet to look into the fair and open face of heaven-to breathe a prayer full in the smile of the blue firmament. ~John Keats

Nature is man’s teacher.
She unfolds her treasures to his search
unseals his eye, illumes his mind, purifies his heart;
an influence breathes from all the sights
and sounds of existence.
~Alfred Billings Street

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It is not so much being “city pent” that keeps me from looking long into the “fair and open face” of the heavens in summer. It’s from being “house pent.” However, to keep my heat-driven incarceration inside my air-conditioned home from totally stifling my spiritual breathing, I hungrily emerge out of doors for a while very early and/or very late in the day. Outside and under the heavens I am able at last to breathe long and deep in prayer. According to Howard Pyle, “The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived.” In my childhood nature and her sweet stories left a profound impression in my memory. Because as Pyle suggests that impression was not thrown on “the rubbish heap” and because late in life I reentered nature’s haunts by means of a garden, I was brought back to a reverent and devoted relationship with the Maker of my soul and Creation.

Last night when I was out, I noticed that a pure white Angel’s Trumpet had opened, and it was still there briefly this morning. The brilliance of its whiteness reminded me of the temporal dominion of any kind of darkness and the inevitable return of light. Then when I came inside, I read an email from a friend in which he quoted “Peace is seeing the sunrise and sunset and knowing who to thank.” Though neither he nor I knew whom to credit for the thought, we always know who to thank for everything. So thank you, Lord, for sunrises and sunsets as well as endings and beginnings. For you see the Angel in the Trumpet intimated that the heat beast is on its last legs.

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord; teach me Your decrees. ~Psalm 119:64   ✝

Lord God, Your breath is within me, and I will honor and praise you with every breath that I breathe.

427. Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear, Ponca Native American Chief

Happiness flutters in the air
whilst we rest among
the breaths of nature.
~Kelly Sheaffer

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The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ~Anne Frank

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Nature is man’s teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. ~Alfred Billings Street

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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   ✝

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.