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

1165. Did you hear it, fluting and whistling a shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall knifing down the black ledges. ~Excerpt from the poem, The Swan, by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting all night on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
a perfect commotion of silk and linen
as it leaned into the bondage of its wings…
~Another excerpt from the poem, The Swan,
by Mary Oliver

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Whistling Swans
Do you bow your head when you pray or
do you look up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use,
God no doubt understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north
and making such a ruckus of noise,
God is surely listening and understanding.
Rumi said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how
it springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks,
but is that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine
(I just suggest it) that the swans know about
as much as we do about the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.
Last night the rain spoke to me slowly,
saying, what joy to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again in a new way on the earth!
~Mary Oliver

Because You(God) are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. ~Psalm 63:7 ✝

**Singing swan images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1029. Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Journey

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One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
~Mary Oliver

Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars! ~Psalm 148:3  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

925. The earth has music for those who listen. ~William Shakespeare

Inside the silence between
your 
heartbeats hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Listen.
Quiet the voices and noise around you.
Honor the Holy One calling you!
~Author Unknown

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I perceive the universe as a cosmic temple and planet earth as a sanctuary in that temple. Although not given the power of speech as such therein, rain and other weather-related phenomena exhibit distinctive voices in and under the heavens. And as these things fall from earth’s chaotic atmosphere, they often blend their unique voices with other holy sounds in the natural world. In that sacred chorus is a call for humanity to seek the Maker of the temple because God not only hardwired man with a desire to connect with other human beings but also with a  longing to seek and connect with Him. Thus to that end man was given eyes to witness the sacraments of heaven and earth, ears to hear the chants of their hallowed voices, intellect to question and understand to some extent what is seen and heard, and a heart that in due time turns from irreverence to deep longing.  Tecumseh, a leader of the Shawnee, said, “Nature is so powerful, so strong.  Capturing the essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the rain in its weather.  It takes you to a place within yourself.” And so after the 11 inches of magical, mystical rain that we’ve had in the last week, I’m a’listenin’ and doin’ little jigs all over the place.

…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— ~Proverbs 1:5  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

875. The foliage began losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Adapted quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Lord, it is time.
Summer has been very big.
Lay thy shadow on the sundials,
and on the meadows let the winds go loose.
Command the last fruits that they shall be full;
give them only a few more southerly days,
~Adapted quote by Rainer Maria Rilke

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September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.  The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains of his brief life.  The bumblebee is busy among the blossoms of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor world above the voices of the songbirds, now silent or departed. ~Rowland E. Robinson

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. ~Song of Songs 4:16  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

770. The flowers are nature’s jewels, with whose wealth she decks coming summer’s beauty.
~Edited excerpt by George Croly

“Summer is coming!” the soft breezes whisper;
“Summer is coming!” the glad birdies sing.
Summer is coming – I hear her quick footsteps;
Take your last look at the beautiful Spring.
~Dora Goodale

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And every stone and every star a tongue,
And every gale of wind a curious song.
The Heavens were an oracle,
and spoke
 Divinity: the Earth did undertake
The office of a priest; and I
being dumb all things did come
With voices and instructions…
~Edited excerpt
by Thomas Traherne

See how wide the mouth of this gorgeous asiatic lily opens to declare God’s glory! Have a blessed weekend, my friends.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. ~Psalm 19:1-2  ✝

648. Make friends with the angels, who though invisible, are always with you. ~St. Francis de Sales

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us,
and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to
visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
~George Eliot

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Kind words, considerate actions, comforting wisdom, encouraging praise–all or some borne on the breath of warmhearted, consoling voices–are no less than the sweet sound of Grace falling on the ears of those in need of reassurance or salvation or deliverance. And what a blessing are they are, these angels chosen to deliver God’s grace for their tender voices and caring kindnesses penetrate all manner of despair. And these divinely appointed “earth angels,” often come from the ranks of ordinary people, but in rising to a divine calling they are lifted up to the realm of the extraordinary. And how they honor the Christ by answering His call to serve!

The human heart is an altar upon which one can and does lay a multitude of things. But, it is not meant to be a personal shrine for self-centered collections of worldliness. Nor should it be defiled with traces of anger, jealousy, or hatred. The altar of the heart should be blanketed with empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, non-violence, and love. Only then will it be a place that Holy God can find the fruits befitting angels and use the bearers of such as instruments of His grace and mercy. It’s not always an easy task to prepare the heart’s altar in such a way, but what an honor it is to realize that on the altar of one’s heart there is something worthy of being used by the Lord God Almighty.

Here’s to all the “earth angels” out there in the blogosphere who share their hearts and gifts with those in need.  I recognize your grace-filled hearts and I adore you…Natalie

May God grant you always…
a sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you,
laughter to cheer you,
faithful friends near and far,
and whenever you pray, His ear to hear you.
~Irish Blessing

Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. ~Psalm 103:20   ✝

**Image via Pinterest