Blue Heron Gazes

Open Rose


Spring Spotlight

Crocus Arrives

Rose Radiance

Blossom Time Again

Trillium Light

Larkspur Path

Flowering Quince


Tender Blossoms

Apple Spotlight

Tulip Soldiers ©CandyPaull

Nest ©Candy Paull

Trinity ©Candy Paull

Golden Rose © Candy Paull

Tulip LIght © Candy Paull

Pirate Rose ©Candy Paull

Celebrate the Abundance

Transforming Troubles

March 20, 2014

Tags: Troubles, sorrow, transformation, inner strength, The Translucent Heart

Treasures in the Darkness

It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns, that, beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect, he is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself), by abandonment to the nature of things; that, beside his privacy of power as an individual man, there is a great public power, on which he can draw, by unlocking, at all risks, his human doors, and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him: then he is caught up into the life of the Universe, his speech is thunder, his thought is law, and his words are universally intelligible as the plants and animals.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

When troubles come, we have a choice—to let troubles destroy us or transform us. A diamond is just a piece of coal that has undergone extreme pressure. When we are handed a lump of coal in the form of trouble, it’s an opportunity to see how Spirit can transform it into spiritual treasure. Dark ugly things can become jewels reflecting the light of eternity, if we are willing to plunge into the darkness with God and discover the hidden treasure.

The losses may seem overwhelming, but the love and life at the center of your being are more powerful than any sorrow or darkness. The still small voice at the center of your heart is a candle in the dark. Focus on the light and it will grow. Do not betray the life and love in your heart for a darker vision of what life holds. Step toward the light, toward those who love you, and say yes to your own life. Say yes to possibilities that cannot yet be imagined in a sad and depressed state.

God is with you in every season of your life. When the storms of sorrow tear your world apart, Divine comfort is there for you. The Presence walks with you in times of discouragement, waits with you for the perfect timing, and comforts you when sorrow weighs your heart to the ground. This is not a time when logic has anything to offer. This is a time when all explanations fall away, and only deep can speak to deep, Spirit to spirit.

In the darkness, out of sight, the pressures and problems can create the lovely jewel of a quiet spirit, a strengthened character, and a wiser heart. One day you will see—whether in this life or in the shining, glorious crowning glory you will behold in the next life. Remember that there are treasures to be discovered in the darkness and that troubles can be transformed into glorious victories if we can walk though them in trust and faith. Grace will carry you through in ways you cannot yet imagine. Trust.

( excerpt from The Translucent Heart by Candy Paull)

This is what I have learned: With the sorrow, there is grace. When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.
Wayne Muller

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.
Joanna Macy

In all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you who is painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.
Elton Trueblood

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

An Abundance Mindset

March 15, 2014

Tags: happiness, abundance, scarcity, fully alive, gratitude, awareness, contentment

Apple Blossom Time

This is the gift—to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.
Abraham Maslow

Spring is beginning. Enjoy being present, fully in the moment, here and now. Take time, for each moment is a gift. Savor your life right now. Take the gift of life, this present that is wrapped in each moment, and do not steal your own joy away by focusing on the negative, but instead look for the light that is hidden in shadows and blossoms in sunlight.

Release the past and forgive. You will clear the way for creating a life you love. Your willingness to receive will make room for miracles—miracles you would have passed by in your old mindset of scarcity. Truly practice the art of abundance, and see that Life Itself is the hand of God held out, asking you to share the gifts each day has to offer.

The art of abundance is finding the provision in what is right in front of you, seeing the hand of God already giving you what you need, moment by moment. Then sharing the abundant blessings God has given with others. And completing the circle of giving by praising the One who gave the gifts for us to enjoy.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
Agatha Christie

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in this life, and one that many persons never learn, is to see the divine, the celestial, the pure, in the common, the near at hand—to see that heaven lies about us here in this world
John Burroughs

Abundance is… cherry and apple blossoms in the spring.

Choice of attention—to pay attention to this and ignore that—is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.
W. H. Auden

Abundance Is…

Celebrating abundance is the best antidote I know of for fear: the fear that whispers there won't be enough for tomorrow, the fear that hisses "things will never improve," the fear that dominates and tortures, telling you that your are helpless and that God has forgotten you. Don't believe it.

Start looking at what you already have. Start with basics like "I'm still breathing." Make it a game to see how many positives there are in your life. Then start counting the little things, the tiny joys a moment can bring. Open your eyes to see the wonder of the world you live in.

I call this the "Abundance is…" game. Here is a sampling:
Abundance is… a cool breeze on a summer evening.
Abundance is… a song to sustain you through a dark night.
Abundance is… blue jays fighting over the birdseed in a bird feeder.
Abundance is… ginger cookies that snap.
Abundance is… the opening chords of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Abundance is… warm hands on a cold winter day.

Start playing this celebratory game by looking at your life. It's not only the little things to be thankful for. It's the things that illustrate potential.
Abundance… is a full tank of gas.
Abundance is…a tree loaded with apple blossoms.
Abundance is…a telephone line that's connected.
Abundance is…flour, sugar, butter, salt, eggs, a recipe, and a kitchen to bake a cake in.
Abundance is… a smiling four-year-old.
Abundance is…a box full of kittens.
Abundance is…an hour to play in the park on a sunny day.
Abundance is…the first day you feel better after having the flu.
Abundance is…a crocus peeking its head out of the snow.
Abundance is the little tight green buds of spring.

Abundance is… a busy airport.
Abundance is… browsing in a fabric store.
Abundance is… when you get more than you anticipated.
Abundance is… sunlight creating rainbows as it shines through a crystal prism.
Abundance is… an understanding friend.
Abundance is… dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.
Abundance is… a thankful heart.
Abundance is…_______________________(make up your own!)

For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack….. This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice and our arguments with life…..
Lynn Twist

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
Thomas Merton

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (RSV)

Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance—the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will persevere in it longer, than the sad or sullen.
Thomas Carlyle

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Cultivate Inner Wisdom

February 28, 2014

Tags: Wisdom, Translucent Heart, excerpt

The Heart of the Rose

I'm excited because I have a brand new baby iMac to set up. I also have a new work desk to make room for this 21 inch bouncing baby computer. My life is blooming like spring flowers, and I'm getting my office in order for the new possibilities that are opening up. There have been many reasons for the dearth of blogs in the last year or two, but a season for returning to blogging is coming soon. I love to blog, so I'm looking forward to spending time online again and exploring some other social media as well. Meanwhile, while I'm organizing and getting my new life in order, I offer an excerpt from The Translucent Heart. Enjoy!

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
Albert Einstein

You may have a string of degrees and be smart as a whip. But that doesn’t make you wise. Wisdom comes with experience and through cultivating a deeper relationship with God. Inner wisdom helps you navigate the twists and turns of life, helping you untangle knotty life problems with simple spiritual truth.

Cultivate inner wisdom by making your spiritual life a priority. Spend time in prayer, study, and meditation. Make time for spiritual reading. Meditate on sacred scriptures and on wise words from others who have traveled down the spiritual path.

Children also show us how to be wise with their wonder, openness, and willingness to try new things. Our children teach us lessons in life’s wisdom every day. They embrace life with a giggle, are not afraid to cry when it hurts, and look with wide-eyed wonder that the world. As adults, we are often reluctant to be open, to learn, to make mistakes. In our quest for knowing the right answers, we leave behind the childlike ability to open to different ideas and new experiences. Jesus said that unless we became like children, we would miss the wisdom of the Kingdom of God.

Wisdom also comes from experience and as we mature we learn from our experience. This includes learning from our mistakes, weaknesses, and problems. Sometimes our hearts know the wisest course to take, but we still stubbornly choose a foolish path. However, we can often learn more from our mistakes than our successes. Our foolish choices may lead us down a path we never planned to take. But on that path we find divine appointments, lessons in love, and wise teachers who point the way back to the high road we left behind.

As compost makes the soil richer, so even weaknesses, mistakes, problems, detours, and losses can enrich our lives and help us cultivate wisdom. Inner wisdom is found in the secret places of the heart. It is the place where heaven and earth intersect. When you cultivate inner wisdom, you will see changes in the conditions of your outer life, sooner or later. This wisdom is of God, coming from a place beyond and above all circumstances, all earthly limitations. Prepare to be surprised, for when inner wisdom speaks, it becomes a source of divine ideas that can slowly but surely transform your life.

Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The deeper one sees into life, the wider life opens itself to one, and then every moment of one’s life becomes full of wonders and full of splendors.
Hazrat Inayat Khan

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
Albert Einstein

With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.
William Wordsworth

Accumulated knowledge does not make a wise man. Knowledgeable people are found everywhere, but we are cruelly short of wise people.
Michel Quoist

One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.
John Kenneth Galbraith

A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.
James Allen

Offer Your Best Gifts in 2014

January 1, 2014

Tags: love, talent, giving, generosity, enthusiasm, faith, choices

Offer Your Best Gifts

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!
Howard Thurman

Do what you love and more love will unfold. By offering the gift of your time and talents to others, you multiply the good you have already received and generate more positive energy for all.

Your enthusiasm contributes as much as the actual work you do. If you are already doing what you love and have a special skill to share, be generous with it. If you can’t do what you love, learn to love what you do. Give enthusiastically and count all loving service as an act of faith that sends a signal to the Universe that you are open to unexpected opportunities and new ideas. You never know when a simple loving act can lead to something greater than you can yet imagine.

Be generous with your time and talent. Don’t be afraid to pitch in and help. You can help build a home, volunteer for a food drive, teach others a craft, or pick up litter on a stretch of highway. Find a need you can meet and give the gift of yourself.

• Volunteer your time and talents for a good cause. Throw your whole heart into what you do.

Affirmation: My gifts and talents are received with joy, making a better world for all.

Finding Serenity in Seasons of Stress

November 25, 2013

Tags: Serenity, Grand Harbor Press, new book.

New! Release date November 26, 2013
My bouncing new book baby is about to be released. November 26, 2013 is the official publishing date.

And download the new edition of The Heart of Abundance. Twice as much good stuff!

It's celebration time!

There's something about a book that's sacramental, something permanent and physical that suggests the nonphysical world. It's a tangible sign of something larger than the physical--something transcendent.
Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori

Set an intention to cultivate more serenity in your heart, and you will be surprised by the ways serenity makes its way into your daily life. You will also be challenged to make changes that may be far beyond the scope of merely reducing stress in your life. Creating a calming home atmosphere, getting grounded and centered in your body, and being proactive about making positive incremental changes will help you create at more tranquil and meaningful existence.

Serenity is not the absence of stress but an openness to experiencing a greater sense of the Divine Presence in your life. You will be guided as you discover ways to blend spirituality and practicality to uncover the hidden wholeness that is already within. Finding Serenity in Seasons of Stress offers encouragement and simple ideas to create a happier and more blessed life. May it be a reminder of the stillness and aliveness that are at the center of your being.

Excerpt from Finding Serenity in Seasons of Stress

The Translucent Heart

September 10, 2013

Tags: new e-book, meditations, quotes, The Translucent Heart

I just published my new e-book, The Translucent Heart. It's already available on Smashwords and Amazon, and will soon be available on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and other e-tailers. Almost two years in the making. It's been a long time since I published a new book, and I'm very happy to be up and publishing again.

I also have a new book coming in November with Grand Harbor Press, called Finding Serenity in Seasons of Stress. More to come on that. It will be available in an e-book format, as well as trade paperback and audio book.

The Translucent Heart is a collection of sixty-one meditations with quotes for the spiritual journey, offering practical ways to bring a little bit of heaven into daily life on earth. This devotional companion offers instant inspiration to illuminate the heart and lift your spirits. If some days feel opaque with weariness and struggle, discover a little bit of light to brighten your day.

The Translucent Heart is much longer than any book I have written. The sixty-one meditations each come with a cornucopia of quotations, showing that wisdom is universal, and people from different times, cultures, and spiritual traditions often agree on the essentials of what it means to cultivate the interior life. I adore quotes, and this book has some great ones. I also stretched in my writing, creating longer meditations, and going deeper into my own experience. I think it is really important to continue growing as a writer, and The Translucent Heart has been an important part of my personal journey. It is my prayer that it will be an ongoing devotional resource for your personal journey, too.

The object of the man, the aim of the moment, is to make daylight shine through him, to suffer the law to traverse his whole being without obstruction, so that on what point so-ever of his doing your eye falls it shall report truly of his character, whether it be his diet, his house, his religious forms, his society, his mirth, his vote, his opposition.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

You turn your captivity, or come out of the house of bondage, thralldom, and misery when you claim the qualities, attributes of God as your own, and when you accept mentally all the blessings of heaven.
Joseph Murphy

As one comes into and lives continually in the full, conscious realization of oneness with the Infinite Life and Power, then all else follows.
Ralph Waldo Trine

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
Henry Van Dyke

Kitty Litter Ethics

June 18, 2013

Tags: integrity, earthiness, ethics, kitty litter cleanup, daily life

George in Bliss

If there were to be a universal sound depicting peace, I would surely vote for the purr. Barbara L. Diamond

I have been cat-sitting this week. I love being the temporary home for special kitties, felines who are loved by friends who want someone who will love their animals when they are going out of town. I’m no professional cat-sitter. I just have certain favorite kitties that I am happy to host in my home for certain favorite friends. The two I am caring for this week have the fond aliases of “Kitty Boy Litterfoot” and “Zen Purr Master.” One is a very sweet independent male kitty who is a Tarzan muscle boy. The other is a soft ball of fur who loves to snuggle next to me and allows me to stroke her in the right kitty places. She isn’t a lap cat (I love lap cats) but she does honor me with her trust, and will sleep in purrfect peace on my bed at night. She also has a penchant for jumping on the desk while I'm trying to type, letting me know that my attention needs to be placed on more important things (like petting her!).

There is all the daily work that comes with kitties. Kitty Boy needs his daily meds (though he’s easy to dose, as he just laps up anything I give him). Then there’s cat food. Dry is simple. Wet—well, it pleases the cats. Not my idea of gourmet dinner, but I’m not a cat. I just make yummy noises when I’m dishing it up, and they come running.

Cleaning the litter box, though not one of my favorite duties in the world, can be the occasion for some deep thinking (along with scooping the deep poop). I have thought about reasons for keeping the litter box tidy and how it parallels certain areas of my life that need regular attention. Here is one of my musings on the ethics of kitty litter duty.

Every life/business/household is like a cat, and every life/business/household has a kitty litter box. It's the nature of things. And every day, someone has to scoop the poop and clean up the kitty litter box so the cat can do its business.

Good kitty litter ethics means keeping the box clean and just doing the work without complaining. Bad kitty litter ethics will ignore or gloss over the box and avoid the work. Instead, they'll shake the box to make it look nice and clean on the surface, but when kitty needs to do its earthy business (just a normal day of doo doo), it digs and finds those hidden turds, the petrified waste still needing to be attended to. And if this goes on too long, the box will smell and the kitty will find other, less appropriate places to do its natural business.

Good ethics: happy cat, purring in your lap, clean house, and everything working as it should work
Bad ethics: uneasy cat, something smelly coming from the corner, and an unhappy household

Sometimes it's just that the kid in charge of the litter box forgot, shirked, or is immature. Sometimes it's someone who isn't bothered by dirty kitty litter smells and waits for a long time to change the kitty litter box. Sometimes it’s someone too ethereal to notice kitty litter, or someone too proud to stoop and scoop. And sometimes it's someone who is unaware or abusive. But no business is without kitty litter issues, so you might as well work with people who like to keep the cat happy and the house clean.

So next time something doesn’t “smell right,” check out the kitty litter box and see who’s been taking care of business.


And for a change of pace, here is a meditation I wrote for myself back in May. I was in the midst of writing a new book that will be coming out around Thanksgiving 2013 (more later on that and other projects I’m getting ready to release) and decided I wanted an affirmative prayer to help me remember what is important in my creative work.

In this precious morning time I fill my spirit and prepare for a productive and celebratory day. I love to write inspired copy that is the equivalent of calling dolphins, whispering to horses, singing to the stars, and drawing the beloved ones I serve with love and joy and peace. I am visualizing that abundant good comes, and then, like a cat purring as it is stroked, sends out even more good vibrations to those I love and serve. I am setting my intentions in a more loving, peaceful, and joyous way than I have ever intended before, and I include all in that circle of intention. I am including the readers I create for, the clients I serve, the people I meet, the partnerships I form, the beloveds I tenderly care for, and I include myself as well. We are all drawn into an enchanted circle of bliss, ecstasy, and wonder. My writing sings as it reaches straight to the heart, from my heart. It is a language and lyric, a song that I can learn, memorize, and sing for my readers, for the earth, for the light and life of all creation. My work is not just earning a living, though I am blessed with a wonderful and prosperous living. My work is an expression of love. And I participate in bringing a higher consciousness to all, nurturing the spirit, and bringing ecstasy, wonder, and beauty into fullness of being.
And so it is

Creating Abundantly

March 27, 2013

Tags: creativity, abundance, art, love, wholeness, grace

Sea Roses

Each person is nourished, made more whole, by making something which has life.
Christopher Alexander

Abundance is an inside job. It begins with love. When you are creating a career, a craft, a partnership, a work of art, a home, choose to put your whole heart into what you do. When you give attention and love to your work and your relationships, they begin to glow with Divine life. The energies of love and a high quality of attention create wholeness in your life and in this world.

If you are feeling fragmented and broken, a simple way to bring the pieces back together is to do one humble task with attention and care. Be fully present in the smallest, most insignificant task and you will tap into the innate wholeness of the entire Universe. A new sense of well-being becomes available to you when you wash dishes mindfully or sweep the floor as if it is the most important work in the world. The same goes for focusing on the person you are with. Your loving attention will create a place for relationship to become a sacred trust. This work, this person, become important in this moment because the here and now is all you really have access to anyway. Make it count.

Create small spaces of beauty and order in your life. Commit fully to what you are doing and who you are with. Be fully present and create beauty that satisfies your soul. If you love it and work with your heart, you will be rewarded.

Ask yourself these questions:
• Does this thing I have made or done make me feel more whole and alive?
• Do I feel nourished and happy because of it?
• Does it feel “right” somehow, even if others might not approve or consider it important?
• Do I feel that I did this to the glory of God or for the highest good?
• Am I serving a greater purpose by choosing to do this?

The quality of attention that we give to the arts and sciences we love redeems the time of our earthly existence.
William Anderson

The connection between the life of a made thing and the healing effect it has on the maker is…this: People are deeply nourished by the process of creating wholeness.
Christopher Alexander

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
G. K. Chesterton

The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it.
Thomas Merton

Love the inward new creation,
Love the glory that it brings;
Love to lay a good foundation
In the line of outward things.
Shaker song

(excerpt from Inner Abundance)

Give Yourself a Spring Bouquet

February 22, 2013

Tags: spring, flowers, photos, contemplation, time, eternity, beauty

Crabapple Spring Returns

The earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is something so delightfully enchanting about treating yourself to fresh flowers. They are not “useful” in a utilitarian sense, but they feed the soul’s desire for beauty and bounty. The unfolding of a rose is a miracle, a living reminder that the life force unfolds from within. Lilies are fragrant, filling the room with sensuous sweetness. Sunflowers are the symbols of high summer and phototropic joy, like sunny smiling faces. Dogwood white against forest brown, deep blue dwarf larkspur, and tiny pink and yellow spring wildflowers make the earth new again as the season of growth begins after a long cold winter. The fierce red “I AM” of a tulip, the tender petal pink of a rosebud, or clouds of white crabapple blossoms at their peak of perfection remind me that life is ever new, every lovely, and ever surprising.

One way to give yourself the gift of a lasting bouquet is to take pictures. Petals fall and seasons change, but the beauty lives on long after the flower has gone to compost. I love to take pictures of flowers, capturing a moment as they bask in the light. A spray of plum blossoms caught in setting sun and reflecting the light as if they are living lamps, or the shadowed petals of an unfolding rose that creates a geometry of grace—every photo is a different expression of floral grace. I prefer capturing the blossoms in natural light, and have learned to look for nature’s “spotlight” for each scene.

Much depends on the camera as well as the lighting. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to capture a bit of lasting beauty. I still use my old Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot camera, and because I have used it for so many years, I have learned its ways more deeply. I have learned more of the ways of flowers from it. One day soon I will be investing in cameras with more bells and whistles, but something tells me that I will want to keep my old camera available, even if it is held together with masking tape (actually, it IS held together with masking tape, as the battery compartment no longer stays closed on its own, thanks to the camera being dropped once or twice). That old camera is a friend, another eye that helps me see what I would otherwise miss. Almost every photo on my website has been taken on my trusty little digital camera. I revel in the bouquets the camera and I create together.

Timing is a big factor. Capturing the peak of the blossom or the perfect lighting is an essential part of the magic. I have a sunset view and at certain times of year the light of the lowering sun comes through the kitchen door and creates a space of light on my counter. I provide a background with a few simple props and place the opening rose in front of the complementary backdrop. Then I just chase the light as the sunset evolves. At other times of year my den skylight sends light down from on high, and my flowers bask in its spotlight for a few minutes of staged beauty.

Best of all is chasing the light and beauty outdoors. I go to local parks, botanical gardens, or a favorite lake in blossom time, and the magic unfolds under the ever-changing weather conditions. It’s such a joy to capture the perfection of spring blossom. I have learned to love the light as it dances with the flowers, caressing them with passing splendor. Light makes love with the earth, bathing it in beauty, coaxing the plants and flowers into being. The clouds and shadows reveal and hide; the early morning or waning afternoon casts a subtle glow that full noon is too harsh to reveal. Sunlight through the petals reveal secrets of the flower, offering a sense of another world more luminous and whole, more perfect in its glowing beauty than earth can fully bear.

Spring comes and goes fast in the South, as a warm day can open everything so quickly, and send it past its peak even more swiftly. Pacific Northwest spring blossoms linger in the grey coolness, but the southern sun can shorten the bloom time with a few days of unexpected heat. If I come upon a scene of peak blossom and glorious light, I take as many pictures as I can. I must capture the moment because it will not come again. Every year it’s different: same tree, same location, same spring blossom—yet never the same, and the photos are always different, day-to-day, season to season, moment by moment. Just like life: you can never repeat the moment, so keep your eyes wide open and your heart ready to receive. One day the cherry blossom is white. Two days later, it has deepened to pink. One day the crabapple buds are pink and red with promise, two days later they are a blanket of open white blossoms covering the tree. Two more days and they are petals falling and gone, swept away by the wind as a thunderstorm rushes in with a cleansing cold front.

The most artfully luminous photos become icons for me. One or two photos from a session will stand out because of a bit of light and form captured in random perfection. They represent something more than just the flower itself. It is as if there are more dimensions reflected in their beauty. As I have grown in my artistry, I have found certain ways of looking at the composition of flower and light to create something much more than a mere snapshot of something pretty. The photo itself is like a flower opening my eyes to another layer of beauty and meaning. For me, contemplating flowers has become a way of contemplating the mystery of life.

Whether I take a series of rose photos in afternoon’s fading light or go hunting at my favorite spring haunts for blossoms in the peak of their perfection, I go with an open heart as well as an open eye. Give yourself the gift of fragrant blossom and allow it to remind you of the inner dimension of the soul. A digital work of photo art, a painting that expresses your creative response to beauty, or just a lovely flower to scent your day and bringing beauty to your home; all of these remind you that eternity is calling to you through the lattices and windows of time and space. A big bouquet, a single rose, or wildflowers gathered from the side of the road—say it with flowers and take joy in nature’s sweet pleasures.

• Stop at a flower stand and pick your favorite bouquet. Now buy it and take it home and enjoy it. Or take your digital camera and go for a ramble in fields, forest, or garden. Take delight in the floral bounty that is always blooming for you.

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
John Ruskin

Once or twice I have been asked what the peacock is “good for”—a question which gets no answer from me because it deserves none.
Flannery O’Connor

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

Beauty is reality seen with the eyes of love.
Evelyn Underhill

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
George Washington Carver

Spring—an experience in immortality.
Henry David Thoreau

Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.
Ellis Peters

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
Martin Luther

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light.
The glory and freshness of a dream.
William Wordsworth

In the garden mystery glows
the secret is hidden in the rose.
Farid ud-Din Attar

We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable.
Thomas Berry

We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.
Ansel Adams

Cherry Blossoms
Setting aside my worldly affairs,
On the cherry-bloom I will gaze,
Every day till it withers; for
The flowers will last so few days.
Moto-Ori Norinaga

Nature never makes haste; her systems revolve at an even pace. The buds swell imperceptibly, without hurry or confusion, as though the short spring days were an eternity. Why, then, should man hasten as if anything less than eternity were allotted for the least deed.
Henry David Thoreau

Be Open to Unexpected Valentine Gifts from the Divine

February 12, 2013

Tags: Valentine, romance, divine, gifts, awareness, gratitude, heaven on earth

Valentine Roses for You
Your daily calendar tells you that everything is scheduled and accounted for—but your calendar cannot predict the unexpected. Even the most mundane days can hold surprises and gifts from the hand of God, if you are receptive to them. If you have eyes to see, you’ll recognize the loving Presence in all that is. Let the Divine romance you, surprise you, spread the treasures of creation before you. Then you will discover that Heaven is not somewhere far away, but here at work in this commonplace moment. Paper Valentines may come on February 14, but the Universe is sending you a living, loving Valentine greeting every day of the year.

You thought you were only running errands, but you ran into an old friend in line at the bank. It was just another ordinary day until that glorious sunset took your breath away. You ended yesterday in tears, but the sweet gift of sleep offered soothing relief and the next morning came with a clearer perspective The gloom of rain was chased away by sun shining through parted clouds. A smile, a red rose, a helping hand, a kind word, an unexpected encounter—Divine gifts surprise and delight.

You may have a sweetheart who will bring you hearts and flowers on Valentine’s day. Or you may be single and wishing for a Valentine greeting from a beloved you have not yet met. Whatever your life holds in the way of human romance, enjoy and express the Divine romance of living in such a beautiful and complex universe. Spend time with the Creator of Romance, allowing the loving Presence of God to comfort your soul. Choose to be compassionate and forgiving when you meet difficult people, recognizing that we are all works in process. Make an extra effort to let friends and loved ones that they are special to you.

Do something creative to satisfy your soul. Buy a bouquet and make a beautiful flower arrangement. Take a walk and bring a notebook with you for sketching or journaling. Write a poem. Build a birdhouse to welcome nesting birds this spring. Take artistic pictures with your digital camera and turn the best photos into homemade Valentine cards for friends and family. Try a new combination of accessories to freshen up a favorite outfit. Blend a perfume with fine essential oils. Make a delicious meal and share it with someone. Create a romantic atmosphere with candles, incense, and favorite music.

Most of all, cultivate a mindful awareness of the small gifts that life offers. Breathe in deeply, giving thanks for all life brings, good and bad. Breathe out the cares of life and that which no longer serves you. Be open and appreciate whatever comes as Life itself brings you unexpected gifts for Valentine’s Day—and every day of the year.

• Surprise someone you love with an unexpected gift—flowers, a card, chocolate—something simple to celebrate life together. Express your love of life in tangible ways: holding the door for someone, a smile, an extra large tip for a hard working waitress, a kind word, an anonymous Valentine for some lonely heart longing for a word of love.

The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.
Gertrude Atherton

Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first time or the last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.
Betty Smith

If we are rooted in the belief that everything God created is potentially holy, we have the capacity to notice that which is beautiful and holy in everyday life. Everything can be seen as a miracle, part of God’s plan. And when we can truly see this, we nourish our souls.
Rabbi Harold Kushner

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Albert Einstein

Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Kahlil Gibran

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Spiritual love is a position of standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.
Christina Baldwin

The more we have given to ourselves, the more we have to give to others. When we find that place within ourselves that is giving, we begin to create an outward flow. Giving to others comes not from a sense of sacrifice, or spirituality, but for the pure pleasure of it, because it’s fun. Giving can only come from a full, loving space.
Shakti Gawain

In the faces of men and women I see God,
and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street,
and everyone is sign’d by God’s name,
Walt Whitman

To love another person is to see the face of God.
Victor Hugo

Insomuch as love grows in you so in you beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
Saint Augustine

If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more strong, more immortal—that is your success.
Henry David Thoreau

Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heaven is throughout the whole world.
Jacob Boehme

Heaven is within, it revolves around us. It is the real state of Being.
Ernest Holmes

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Sixty-one meditations with a cornucopia of quotes. Inspiration for daily life.
Abundance, Encouragement, Simplicity
Trade Paper, E-book, Audio: Coming November 26, 2013, Grand Harbor Press
A full color Christmas gift book from Simon & Schuster/Howard Books
Simplicity is releasing that which no longer serves me to make room for what I most deeply desire.
Encouragement is inspiring each other to embrace life with courage, enthusiasm, and love.
Abundance is not how much I own, but how much I appreciate.
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