1341. Days pass, the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill my eyes with seeing and my mind with knowing. ~Hebrew Sabbath Prayer

I want to gather up each and every ordinary blessing in my arms.
I want to open my eyes, release my clenched palms.
Feel the winds of time against my face.
Allow myself to be touched by all of it.
And understand that it’s all a great, unlikely miracle—
this moment, this life. And embrace it. Embrace it.
~Dani Shapiro

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Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.

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Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
A song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going.
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
~Excepted lines from a poem
by Carrie Newcomer

They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You(Lord) performed among them. ~Excerpt from Nehemiah 9:17 ✝

**Both images via Pinterest

744. We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars … the stars form a circle, and in the center we dance. ~Rumi

Why does the snowflake melt?
To enliven spring flowers.
Why does summer sun blaze?
To ripen the garden.
Why does the leaf fall?
To bring forth beautiful snow…
Why do the seasons dance so?
To embrace us in the sacred circle.
~Deborah Morrison

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Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons.
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.



Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again

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And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return.
~Wendell Berry

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. ~Isaiah 40:22  ✝

**Image of the journaler’s page found on Pinterest

586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling and
partaking of the wassail.
~Adapted excerpt from Susan Cooper

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Wassailing
~by Unknown Author

The word “wassail” is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon “wel hal” which means “be healthy.” The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase as an everyday greeting. “Waes” is a form of the verb “to be.” “Hal” is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, “waes hal” literally meant “Be healthy.”

The Vikings who later settled in Northern England used a variant of the same phrase, “Ves heill.” Since the Anglo-Saxons and Norse shared a custom of welcoming guests by presenting them with a horn of ale, a cup of mead, or a goblet of wine, the greeting evolved into a toast.

The phrase eventually evolved into the single word that we know today as “wassail.” The use of “wassailing” to mean “caroling” very likely descended from the custom of singing songs while drinking from the wassail bowl during the Christmas holidays.

Cranberry Wassail
1 gallon ocean spray cranberry juice
5 cups apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp allspice (whole)
1 medium sized orange sliced
20 whole cloves

Combine cranberry juice cocktail, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a large pot. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Serve warm in a heat proof punch bowl or chill and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 42 4-ounce servings.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and day and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:13-15   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

251. More than anything, I must have flowers, always, and always. ~Claude Monet

When we look deeply into the heart of a flower,
we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth,
and everything else in the cosmos in it.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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 Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.  ~Claude Monet

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 The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.  ~Claude Monet

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I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  ~Claude Monet

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Like Monet, I must always, always have flowers, and I’ve discovered that cut flowers do little to satisfy that hunger.  I need to have flowers that, as in nature, are alive and growing, and to that end my greenhouse is a godsend.  From my chair in our family room I have a clear shot at the back shelf through the window in its door, and so that space is reserved during the winter months for potted flowers that aren’t suited to our Texas climate except as cool weather annuals.  Also like Monet, I must have color, lots and lots of color, and so the more bright and colorful the flowers are the better.  And again, like Monet I wanted to become a painter, but that’s where the likeness between us ends.  I may have found a way to have flowers and color but not the talent to translate that beauty onto a canvas.  However, the Lord in His gracious goodness did not let it end there.  During my years as a teacher I was asked at one time to sponsor the high school’s yearbook.  During that 5 year period I learned from the book’s professional publisher how to take photos,  how to edit and crop them, and how to lay them out on a page in an eye-appealing manner.  Then after I retired, with that training still in place, I discovered the amazing technology of digital photography, and voila, who’s to say an artist of sorts wasn’t born.

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.  Psalm 92:4   ✝

 

 

227. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary. ~William C. Dix

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May your home be a sanctuary
wherein you feel the continual presence of Yeshua, the Christ.
May you feel His mantle of love perpetually
surrounding you and all those you love.
May there be forgiveness and healing wherever there is brokenness.
May your life be long and yield a multitude of days
filled with laughter, love, and well-being.
May your world be blessed with plentitude and joy.
May there always be love in your heart; in your soul, may there be peace;
and in your mind may tranquility reign.
May each season of the coming years bring you
the best they have to proffer.
May you never be lacking enough and never want for more.
On rainy or troubling days may there be rainbows,
physical or spiritual, to gladden your eyes and heart and spirit.
As you listen for the sacred incantations of heaven’s orbs
may your hear the “echoes of the spheres”
speak of the Holy One and His goodness and mercy.
O come let us adore Him! He has come! The Messiah has come!

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~Romans 8:38-39  ✝

203. Surely a man needs a closed place where in he may strike root and, like the seed become. ~Antoine de St. Exupéry

But he also needs the Great Milky Way
above him and the vast sea spaces,
though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.
~Antoine de St. Exupéry

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For me, autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for reflection, contemplation, and soul searching–a time for ruminating on the things that move me and make me who and what I am.  And so as I worked out in the yard on this sunny last day of November, the windmills in my mind started churning up memories of the events that led to its door.  Rather than covering every step of the journey, I decided to start when I found my “closed place” in this house with its spacious yards where I began to “strike roots.”  In the beginning, though the home and its conveniences served my physical needs and provided me with creature comforts, relief from old emotional wounds and peaceful contentment remained elusive long afterwards.  Years passed with little change in the status quo until one summer while recalling the beautiful flowers surrounding my childhood home (above) in California, I decided it was time to try growing my own flowers right here in hot old Texas.  Since I wasn’t sure I’d inherited the proverbial “green thumb” of my ancestors, I resolved to begin on a small scale.  So I cleaned off a corner of the patio, bought some bags of potting soil and an assortment of pots and seeds, and thus commenced what I know now to have been a pivotal moment in my life.  From the minute the first seeds germinated, a soul-saving passion for gardening was being birthed in me.  Despite the summer’s miserable heat, I faithfully watered and fussed over my thriving “little flock,” and it was those familiar flowery scents that were the catalysts which sparked my spiritual reawakening.  The next summer with the success of the previous year under my belt and a renewed recognition of Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God), I decided to branch out and actually sow  seeds in the ground and dig a few holes for bedding plants.  Success came again and with it the quickening in my spirit intensified so much so that I decided to take my recently commissioned mentor’s advice to attend church once more.  This was the first step in righting the derailment of my faith journey that had begun after the early death of my father.

Scripture tells us that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches.  Until those first two growing summers the branch that was Natalie had been withering, not because the Lord had been doing less but because I had been turning a deaf ear and  blaming Him for the loss of my father as well as for painful, emotional wounds and the awful, unrelenting migraines that had started in my mid-twenties.  Since then I have spent season after glorious season planting, replanting, listening, seeking His presence, and marveling at the wonders of heaven and earth.  This pilgrimage that was involved in becoming the Natalie I am today has taught me that He, His Church, and His Creation, which includes the Great Milky Way, the vast sea spaces, and a garden, are the “holy foods” I must have to survive and live in peace and harmony.  Now minute by minute in this place where I have deeply “rooted” myself, the hungering need for “more” has been forever silenced by miracles great and small, blessing upon blessing, and the amazing grace He continues to bestow upon me.

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine;  you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:1 and 4-5

72. Come, fill the Cup, . . . the Bird of time has but a little way to fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the wing. ~Omar Khayyám

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
~Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyám, 11th century Persian poet

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In my twenties, I came face to face with the reality of what this Persian poet articulated in the Rubaiyat, but thankfully in my thirties I also realized that every spring all that God created begins again.  So even though I have no a chance to do anything about the past, in the season of restoration and rebirth God built into the fabric of Creation, I can forge on with writing new stories and/or penning different endings to ones not yet finished.  However, lest I get too comfortable in dalliances a long the way and to show how quickly what the poem’s author revealed can come about, I must remember that a new year’s garden progeny and its days come and go quickly, and when done they are never, as Khayyám said, to be lured back nor washed away by tears.  So with every spending of my time coins, I must seize opportunities opening to blushes of newness.  Scripture may tell the world that the “birthing and restoring” of new years will go on “as long as earth endures,” but last November’s brush with death taught me to make the most of each day and not rely on what I, myself, may not be given.

The best things in life are nearest:
Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet,
duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.
Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes,
certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish poet

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  ~Genesis 8:22   ✝