The Birch Tree

by Edgar Guest

Out of a jutting rock, wind blown,
a birch tree braves the world alone.
A crevice in the granite first
captured the seed; a wave immersed
that tiny embryo. The sun
warmed it — and thus was life begun.

Scant food the passing breezes give
and yet that tree contrives to live!
Cruel the clutch of granite gray,
yet the brave roots from day to day
into the great stone deeper creep,
a surer hold on life to keep.

Twisted and bent some limbs appear,
but still undaunted year by year
those roots in cheerless channels sunk
courageously support the trunk
and green against the lake and sky,
a birch tree catches every eye!

Man thinks he knows what nature wills.
But much he plants the winter kills,
while far away from human care
and on a cliff by storms swept bare,
denied the commonest of needs,
a birch tree silently succeeds!

Cliff

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Ragtag Community Prompt for today:  COLOR

The Seat or the House?

This morning my thoughts went to the words, “the seat of the scornful.”  And the inspiring poem, The House By the Side of the Road

David, writer of Psalm 1, gives this caution about who we choose to hang out with and where we sit down.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psalm 1:1

The seat of the scornful seems to be a crowded place in this day and age — and maybe always has been. I must admit that I’ve occupied that spot too often myself. I’ll make a comment about something someone’s doing, then suddenly I catch an undertone of, “Well, I would NEVER do a thing like THAT.”

Judgement is not scorn. We need judgement. We need to be able to draw from our own experience and observing the experience of others to determine where to put our feet. We need to form sound conclusions for our own safety and avoid the slippery slopes others may be saying are “great fun. We don’t need to scorn them when they disappear down that slope into the mud puddle at the bottom.

Sam Foss has a great attitude and many have found his poem inspiring: Here’s the second verse:

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Have a great day, everyone. 🙂

Keep On

I don’t know who wrote this poem but it seems appropriate for this season. I get a little down when summer is gone and autumn is starting to fade away, too.  I hate to see the daylight hours dwindle, the evenings get so dark so soon, the winds blowing strong day after day.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hit by a lot more more blue moods in fall and winter. So I find it’s good to have a verse like this memorized for times when my ooomph has deflated and I’m feeling there isn’t much hope for improvement.

KEEP ON

You’ve tried and failed and down you tumble.
Your get-up’s gone; you sit and grumble.
The path of life’s just curves and hills;
the weather brings you coughs and chills.
But keep on trekking and you’ll get
to valleys full of sunshine yet.

Hiker + quote

Inspired Thoughts

Today’s Ragtag Community prompt word is INSPIRE. Such a nice, neat word. What better prompt to inspire a blogger to write a post?

I will confess, I haven’t been greatly inspired today, having gotten back some negative critiques on the short story I posted yesterday over at the Critique Circle. Not that I think the critiquers were wrong or unfair, but it hits me that I’ve been estimating my writing skills higher than they merited. My stories have flaws, too, and three people now have said there are just too many characters in this one to keep them all straight.

It’s kind of like having your manuscript returned by an editor with the standard form letter. Welcome to the wonderful world of writing: all your darling’s shortcomings pointed out. Critiques are good for a writer, I know. Kind of like a padded cell is good for you when you’re feeling like you can fly like the birds.

Oh, hey. I’m supposed to be talking about inspiration here!

I was inspired yesterday as I looked through Pixabay for a suitable image to use as a cover on my next book. I was all enthused about Fine Details and the cover I’d picked — and posted last week — but thumbs went down when I showed it around. “Too plain,” said some. “Too different from the norm for flash fiction covers,” someone else explained. So I searched Amazon and concluded this was true.

Back to my inspiration. I came across the following picture and since my granddaughter, age twelve, was sitting nearby, I called her to have a look. Somehow this scene just begged for a tale-spin, so between us we started imagining a story around it.

Reading

Pixabay photo

What might this unique creature be reading? Maybe he gets interrupted, a pal phoning or UPS ringing the doorbell. Who — and why? What does he do next? Or maybe his mom is calling him, but he want to finish his story.

This is what inspiration is all about. I saw another picture today that likewise inspired me. There must be something really witty one could think up to go with this upside-down bird. Nothing has come to me yet, but maybe it will inspire you.

Macaw

Pixabay photo

HOPE: Our Life’s Anchor

Fandango’s one-word  prompt yesterday was ANCHOR.

When I saw that word I sat down and let my mind — and fingers  — contemplate the subject. I came up with this writing before we left for church, thinking I’d have time to post it sometime during the day — but then our day turned out quite full. Anyway, here are my thoughts.

And now I can work in Fandango’s latest one-word prompt: FRAGILE,
An anchor cannot be a fragile thing. It hooks among the seabed rocks close to the shore and holds on for dear life. The anchor, and the line that holds it to the ship, are responsible for the lives of all those on board. Anchors and ropes are tested to be sure they’ll stand the strain.

When I saw the word ANCHOR, I immediately thought of that line in the old hymn, Whispering Hope.
“Hope, as an anchor so steadfast….”

Isn’t that the truth! Often the quality of our life is wrapped around HOPE:
the sick live with the hope of better days ahead,
the depressed carry on in the hope of brighter times to come
the poor live in hope of finding financial stability
the destitute live in hopes of a home, or at least a safe location
those who believe in a merciful Creator hope for an eternal reward
the grieving embrace the hope that their loved ones are in a better world now, or at least no longer suffer
and almost everyone lives in hope of finding and maintaining love, friendships, family ties.

Like an anchor keeps a ship from drifting off course in a storm, so hope keeps us heading in the direction of our life-goal, keeps us from being blown off course by gales of circumstance.

Hope anchors most of our actions; without it our days turn into a pointless, emotion-driven meander. Should our hope be a fragile thing, should it break as soon as adversity comes, courage usually fails and our ship might be tossed on a wild sea before we land in a quite spot again.

In extreme cases depressed people curl up in a fetal position and die. Mentally, people crawl into a shell when they’ve lost hope. Physically they cease to take care of their bodies and often fall into substance abuse.

An ANCHOR we need in this turbulent world
— and HOPE is a vital part of that anchor.

When Jesus walked this earth, He offered this promise: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls…” (Matt 12:29) He knew that finding this “rest for your souls” — peace of mind, freedom from guilt and fear — is one of humanity’s greatest needs. One of the best anchors in life.

He didn’t come to offer a guilt-riddled set of rules. (For some reason we humans naturally tend to gravitate towards religious systems that offer heaps of Dos and Don’ts.) Neither did He come to promote the freedom to do whatever we want, without conscience, using and stomping on other people to fulfill our own desires.

On second thought, He did give us some rules:
Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile. Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Freely give. Respect your elders. Show kindness to the widows, orphans, and strangers among you. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t make rules for other people that you can’t even keep yourselves.

Most people seem to know that these are good rules. that they’ll give folks a happy, stress-free life such as we all hope for.

One more thing about HOPE: It’s one of those beautiful “multiplying” qualities: a person can freely offer their hope to others without diminishing their own supply.

Has someone shared HOPE with you lately? Have you shared yours?

The Song of Enough

by Edgar A Guest

I’m getting along, with a bit of a song
and a bit of a smile for my neighbor.
I’ve managed to grin, with the little I win
day by day as the bit from my labor.

Time was in the past I stood often aghast
as the storms of despair swept around me
but my ship, although small, bravely weathered them all
and nothing I’ve dreaded has downed me.

I’ve not had the luck which some others have struck;
I’ve neither been famous nor wealthy,
but I’ve always had meat when I wanted to eat
and I thank the good Lord I’ve been healthy.

Some things I have missed on the millionaire’s list,
but the friends I have made have been true ones;
I have always had suits, shirts and neckties and boots
though I couldn’t afford many new ones.

I’m getting along , just as one of the throng.
Day by day I have worked for my money;
but in spite of the care and the burdens I bear
I’ve supped of life’s nectar and honey.

My house isn’t large, but love has it in charge
and in peace and contentment I dwell there,
and all men I defy to be happier than I
when a friend puts his hand to the bell there.

I’m getting along, with a bit of a song
for I’ve learned what I knew not at twenty,
that enough for each day—with a bit put away
for the cares of my old age—is plenty.

I have eaten and slept, and at times I have wept,
I’ve done all that the Lord lets a man do;
I’ve made friends on the way, and I venture to say
that is all that the richest man can do.

From his book, The Light of Faith
©1926 by The Reilly & Lee Co.

Sharing the Blooms

We’ve reached that time of year when our outdoor flowers are looking rather weary. The petunias in my planters haven’t frozen yet, but the sensitive marigolds around the edges wilted at the first hint of frost. Their brittle leaves don’t add much to the esthetics anymore.

I know we’ll have to start pulling up and tossing soon, but we’ve enjoyed the colorful display this summer and I was happy to learn one evening that we were sharing. At dusk I was standing on the deck when I noticed a hummingbird moth in the petunias, zipping from bloom too bloom, enjoying the sweetness of my flowers. I’ve seen it half a dozen times since — one evening I saw a smaller version, too.

Thinking of sharing good things, I found this little story somewhere and will share it with you, hoping this thought will inspire you, too, this morning.

A lady who was a great lover of flowers had set out a rare vine at the base of a stone wall. It grew vigorously, yet she saw no blooms. Day after day she cultivated and watered it to coax it into bloom.
One morning as she stood disappointedly before it, her invalid neighbour whose back lot adjoined hers, called over and said, “You can’t imagine how much I have been enjoying the blooms of what you planted!”
The lady who owned the plant looked, and on the other side of the wall was a mass of blooms. The vine had crept through the crevices and flowered luxuriantly on the other side.
So often we think our efforts are thrown away because we do not see their fruits. We need to learn that in the service of God our prayers, our toils, and our crosses are never in vain. Somewhere they bear fruit, and hearts will receive blessings and joy from our efforts.

–Author Unknown to me