1338. The joyful heart sees and reads the world with a sense of freedom and graciousness. John O’Donohue

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

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As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

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Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

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As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

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As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

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As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

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May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god. ~John O’Donohue

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Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. ~Psalm 100:2  ✝

**All photos found on Pinterest;
special effects on the last two were done by me on iPiccy

1305. [L]et us linger awhile in the wonderful old Lilac walk. It is a glory of tender green and shaded amethyst and grateful hum of bees. ~Alice Morse Earle

There are a thousand ways
to kneel and kiss the earth.
~Rumi

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Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness.  One of the doors
into the temple.
~Mary Oliver

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker… ~Psalm 95:6  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1244. August breathes its final, burning breath today and so tomorrow we welcome long-awaited September’s arrival. ~Natalie Scarberry

Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning.
Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps.
And by nightfall were like soft teacakes
with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum.
The day was twenty-four hours long,
but it seemed longer.
~Excerpted lines from
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
by Harper Lee

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I used to teach TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and it was and is one of my favorite pieces of American literature. I especially loved this passage above as it described the older women of my childhood. Now that spring flowers have gone I’m like those ladies Harper Lee describes in her novel because by day’s end I am frosted with sweat and talc.

Spring flowers are long since gone.
Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace.
The gardener’s feet drag a bit on the dusty
path and the hinge in his back is full of creaks.
~Louise Seymour Jones

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Much of summer’s bloom hangs not just limp but some of it is fried to a crisp. As for my feet, they are dragging more than a bit on my dusty paths and “the hinge in his back is” definitely “full of creaks” so much so that it’s begging me daily to stop the torturous activity.

The summer days are fading, as they must
From endless hours to short and fleeting light
The bird’s once bright, immortal tune,
now cries A melancholy aura to the dusk.
~Shannon Georgia Schaubroeck

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As night falls, the birds’ tunes are as melancholy as I feel, but my melancholy has nothing to do with lamenting the fading of summer. It has more to do with being weary from the long trek through the burning cathedral with a high pressure dome for a ceiling that is the reality of July and August in Texas. But I can’t say I wouldn’t do it all over again, for the garden feeds my soul and in it I find so many reasons to praise the Lord over and over again.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear His voice… ~Psalm 95:6-7  ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage at top created by Natalie

1235. SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me! ~Walt Whitman

Stranger, if you passing meet me
and desire to speak to me,
why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?
~Walt Whitman

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I felt suddenly like Walt Whitman last night
in the parking lot of Rainbow Foods,
still dazzled from a poetry reading I’d attended,
fresh ponds of rain shining between cars.
I smiled at boy pushing shopping cart;
he smiled back, it was wonderful!
Inside, I watched a man with dreadlocks
carefully bag the cookies he bought.
I observed four brown-eyed children unload
a paycheck’s worth of groceries for their mother.
Listen, I know we’re all of us hiding bruises,
but when a veil seems to lift,
it doesn’t always reveal sorrow.
I saw ordinary people holding doors
for each other, saying please, and
the sky, when I left, was incredibly lavender.
~Francine Marie Tolf

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. ~1 Chronicles 16:29  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

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

1016. For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. ~W.J. Ronald Tucker

Let us remember that He(God) has given us
the sun and the moon and the stars,
and the earth with it forests and mountains and oceans–
and all that lives and moves upon them.
He has given us all green things
and everything that blossoms and bears fruit–
and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–
and to save us from our own foolishness, from all our sins,
He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
~Sigrid Undset,
Nobel prize-winning Norwegian novelist

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The babe born in a manger in Bethlehem was no mere human.  He was the fully divine, blessed Messiah who was sent to restore the rhythm in Creation’s rhyme and to save the lost.  Tonight as we worship and celebrate when the Word became flesh, I’d like to share with all of you an excerpt from a Max Lucado book.  I pray that it touches you as it did me and that in so doing you feel the Breath of Heaven blow through your world.

MARY’S PRAYER
God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child.
Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds.
Enjoy the silence of the crib…
Rest well, tiny hands.
For though you belong to a king,
you will touch no satin, own no gold.
You will grasp no pen, guide no brush.
Lie still, tiny mouth.
Lie still, mouth from which eternity will speak…
Rosebud lips–upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness
to those who believe you…
Rest, tiny feet.
Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power.
Rest. For millions will follow in your footsteps.
~Edited excerpt from
IT BEGAN IN A MANGER by Max Lucado

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.  ~Luke 2:11  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1008. Wise men are not always silent, but they know when to be. ~Unknown

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The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs–
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.
~Sara Teasdale

For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. ~Matthew 2:2  ✝

**Image via Pinterest