1433. Even though it’s the longest night, even though it’s the darkest night; there is always an odd excitement in the air. ~DD

This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight;
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar
.
~Margaret Atwood

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Did you feel it? You know the tilt, the happenstance on which the earth titled to a position where the northern hemisphere is farthest away from the sun today, causing less light to reach part of the planet, the tilt that made this the shortest day of the year and will give us the longest night of the year. It was the Divinely ordained and sacred Winter Solstice tilt, the tilt that’s an annual event shrouded in ancient lore.

For ages the Winter Solstice was seen as a special and critical moment in the cycle of a year. From neolithic times the physical remains at New Grange and Stonehenge in the British Isles have attested to this because their primary axes seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line framing the winter solstice at sunrise in New Grange and at sunset in Stonehenge. Given that these earliest communities were not assured of living through the winter, the time of the solstice had to be marked because it was of maximum importance for which preparations had to be made during the previous nine months. Nowadays, for many, the shortest day of the year simply means that winter has arrived and for the next six months there will be a bit more daylight each day. For those who follow Jesus, the Christ, they know the solstice opens the doors on celebrations honoring His, the Messiah’s birth.

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Winter is
Awakening
The Solstice Sun is
Rising

The Heart of Nature
Is dreaming
Poems of Earth
Now sleeping

The Seasons are
Weaving
The journeys
Of Creation

The Seeds are
Quickening in
Mother Nature’s
Sacred Wing

~Edited poem by Victoria Pettella

He(God) made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. ~Psalm 104:19 ✝

**Images found on Pinterest; text on each added by Natalie

1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1429. Autumn, meek and lackluster, came…

late with little rain to its credit,
and now the time draws near
for winter’s arrival, leaving me wondering
if it too will be mild and characterless.

Nevertheless…

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To-day I think
Only with scents, – scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed,
And the square mustard field;

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Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

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The smoke’s smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

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It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

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~”Digging,” a poem byz
Edward Thomas

And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. ~Hebrews 7:7

**Images via Pixabay

 

1397. August brings into sharp focus and a furious boil everything… ~Excerpt from a quote by Henry Rollins

“Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here,
that I found there was nothing left for it
but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.”
~Sydney SmithScreen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.34.53 PM.png
The month of August had turned
into a griddle where the days just
lay there and sizzled.
~Sue Monk KiddScreen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.24.55 PM.pngEvery year, August lashes out in volcanic fury,
rising with the din of morning traffic,
its great metallic wings smashing against the ground,
heating the air with ever-increasing intensity.
~Henry RollinsScreen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.26.38 PM.pngAugust is one of the great and awful tests
of one’s endurance, sanity and stamina.
~Henry RollinsScreen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.27.53 PM.png

Mr. Rollins has also said that August is the summer’s last messenger of misery, but I would have to beg to differ with him on that at least here in Texas. Our heat “misery” can and often does extend into September, sometimes even into October, and upon occasion it has also been known to infiltrate part of November. And so try as I have all day, I can think of nothing else to say about July’s departure and August’s arrival but goodbye and good riddance and a begrudging hello to the year’s longest month. For me August moves at a snail’s pace and seems to go on forever and ever. And though I never fear that summer will be short, I love this quote by Emerson as it reminds me that the next season is autumn, and I rely on the Word of God to be as faithful about that and all thingsas He always is!

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.30.38 PM.pngWhen summer opens, I see how fast it matures,
and fear it will be short; but after the heats of
July and August, I am reconciled, like one
who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn.
~Ralph Waldo EmersonScreen Shot 2017-08-01 at 9.32.33 PM.png“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
~Genesis 8:22 ✝

**Sunflower photos taken by Natalie in her yard

1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1343. Sometimes we need to sink to the depths to know how to swim to the light. ~Julie Parker

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seeds
of your future happiness.
~Steve Maraboli

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If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. ~Psalm 116:8  ✝

**Image found on Pixabay

1337. Of winter’s lifeless world each tree now seems a perfect part; yet each one holds spring’s secret deep down within its heart. ~Edited quote by Charles G. Stater

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers…
~Thomas Campion

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Gray, foggy dreariness
ushered in the day;
A mist, a cold, frigid drizzle,
fell from on high;
Bare, starkly austere, lay everything
I could see; and
Silence, a stilled quietude, blanketed
my wintry garden.
Bleakly naked, towered tall trees that
stood above all else,
But underneath them from the secret place
murmured a voice,
The sacred, almost indistinguishable, faint
whisper emerged amid
The fog and fine rain to go forward undetected
past the woody sentinels
To allow its utterances to break into morn’s reverie
to tell of signs, longed for signs
Of tiny sparks of life that are preparing to push up
despite the gloominess
And ‘twas this message that stirred embers in my spirit
to keep their glimmer from
Becoming far too dim to continue sustaining my hope,
expectations, and “joie de vie.”

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Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.
It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.
~Rumi

The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. ~Job 37:9 ✝

**Both photos taken by Natalie