Observing Directions and Movements in Nature and Life

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Mars Above the Crescent Moon Lisa A. Wisniewski

This week has been full of stellar skies in my area.  The lack of clouds allowed me to see the first rays of the sunrise, as well as the stars throughout the evening hours.  The sliver of a crescent moon smiling each morning in the east is a welcome sight with hope for positivity each day.  Since the beginning of the week, Venus and Mars have been visible at dawn.  Venus has been sinking lower and Mars rising higher each day.  This morning, Venus was no longer visible, as it has sunk below the horizon line.  Mars is now higher in the sky, well above the crescent moon.  Watching the movement of the planets and the shape of the moon change has been a reminder that nature and life are constantly changing and altering our path upon the journey.

Directions Please

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Wandering Stink Bug Lisa A. Wisniewski

Also this week, I watched a brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) flutter and fuss about in a seemingly aimless path.  This type of bug is considered a true bug because its mouth parts are not designed for biting and chewing, but rather consist of a tube used to pierce plants in order to suck out the juices.  Though the bug is a true bug, it seems to have no sense of true north or any direction.

As I watched the insect crawl, fly, crawl, fly, crawl some more, and repeat this process for random time periods, I wondered aloud, “What are you trying to accomplish?”

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Directions From the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

As the words left my mouth, I realized God must ask the same question of me at times, for there are days when my activities have purpose and meaning, and days when I seem to wander without a sense of direction.  There are also days when I ask God the same question, wondering where we are going and why He is leading me on a particular path.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe I am misinterpreting God’s directions, and that is why I feel so lost.

As with many life questions, we may never learn the answer entirely, but we can do our best to have faith, work diligently despite the lack of direction, and trust that in time we will either find the answer, no longer need the answer, or be content not to know the answer.  Perhaps the following quote says it best:

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m On a Mission

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Woolly Bear Caterpillar Lisa A. Wisniewski

The same day I watched the stink bug, I came across a wooly bear caterpillar (also known as a tiger moth after reaching adult stage) during one of my walks.  The wiggling mass of brown and black hairs slowly but diligently moved in a straight line across the road.  “Well, you certainly are on a mission, aren’t you?” I asked as I stopped to get a picture.

As I turned and headed back along my path, I came across the caterpillar once again.  The little creature had indeed crossed the road and was now up on the curb, diligently plugging along in a fairly straight line, but in a different direction.  I wondered if the caterpillar had changed direction to avoid the rougher terrain past the curb, or if it had other reasons.

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Turn Around Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the caterpillar, we often change course throughout life.  Sometimes we have reasons, other times we don’t feel we have a choice, and still other times we don’t have a reason, yet feel an internal tug that says, “Turn here.”

Our changes in direction often give us different perspectives and vantage points, opening our eyes and minds to events, options, or ideas we did not realize existed prior to our change in course.  Perhaps this is one reason why nature keeps changing, offering us examples to follow and observe with the hope we notice and act upon what we see or experience.  Though change can be difficult to accept and endure, it is a necessary fact of our lives.  Another way to view this is illustrated in the following quote:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Look at This!

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Puffball Mushroom Leo Found Lisa A. Wisniewski

The other day while walking the dogs, my dog Leo pulled on his leash, dragging me in a different direction than we normally take around the yard.  He was definitely fixated on something, moving with quick steps, nose to the ground, eyes focused straight ahead.  Suddenly, Leo stopped, opened his mouth, and tried to eat a large round mushroom.  I quickly ordered him to stop, which he did.

Mushrooms can be very toxic to dogs, so I was relieved Leo listened (not that I expected any less, for he is a good dog and not one to rebel).  I reasoned that Leo had thought the mushroom was an apple and did not know the danger of eating it.  Leo is still young, so pretty much everything goes into his mouth, which is his way of exploring the world.  He and my dog Sadie look forward to picking up fallen apples from the apple tree in the side yard, which we pass on our walks each day.  I noticed recently that Leo is attracted to all round objects he comes upon and tries to eat them.

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Flat-topped Mushrooms: More Than Meets the Eye Lisa A. Wisniewski

My experience with Leo made me realize that we often misinterpret what we see in life.  The misinterpretation may be due to lack of experience or knowledge, misguidance, or even jumping to conclusions before we know the facts.  Regardless of the reasons, we need to be careful not only with what we see, but also with what we hear, taste, touch, and encounter.  While we can’t guard ourselves against every evil, we can be cautious and try our best to maintain a good balance of known and unknown, expected and unexpected, and reasonable and unreasonable.

Open Your Eyes

The mushroom adventure with Leo also made me realize that we have a good variety of mushrooms growing in our yard, as well as in the surrounding area.  In my runs, bike rides, and walks, I found the following types:

  • Puffball, aptly named for its size and shape, known for its dense inner core that becomes powdery with age. This is the type Leo found in our yard.
  • Pear-shaped puffball, a white to light brown fungus found living in clusters on rotten logs, mulch beds, and stumps
  • Chanterelle, known for its frilly edges, crevices, and ridges
  • Flat topped, distinguished by its white cap with gray or brown scales
  • Honeycomb bracket fungus, known for its reddish-yellow to brick red colored caps, often found on dead trees, stumps or logs
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Pear Shaped Puffball Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Chanterelle Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I always search for something new during my runs and bike rides, I realized I had become fixated on flower blooms throughout the summer and had fallen into a funk lately without any new blooms for fall.  Looking around with a different focus, I found:

  • The molting process in the pine trees had ceased and new, green needles now cloaked the white pines in my area, creating a vibrant green fringe along the roadsides
  • The recent rain has transformed the dormant grass into a green sea, almost as if spring had arrived
  • Though the lack of rain and warm temperatures are turning most of the leaves on the trees rather drab colors, there are some exceptions of bright red maples and oaks, deep yellow poplars and hickories, rusty cherries, and deep purple plums
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Green Sea Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Pine Needles Green with Youth Lisa A. Wisniewski

My experience reminded me that we often need to open our eyes and see beyond the surface in order to find what we are (or in some cases are not) seeking.  This reminded me of a parable Jesus told regarding cleanliness.  He rebuked the Pharisees for only cleaning the outside of the cups and not the inside of the soul:

But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of robbery and wickedness.  Foolish ones! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?” – Luke 11:39-40

I wondered how many times in life we pass up opportunities to learn, grow, and share because of our blindness.

Finding Our Way

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Leo, Asking Do You See What I See? Lisa A. Wisniewski

Just as when we lack direction in life, if we fail to see either the obvious or the hidden, we can become lost. The good news is in order to be found, we must first be lost.  While this is not the most comforting thought in the world, it is something to contemplate and reflect upon.

Whether we feel lost, found, or stuck somewhere in between the two, we can use our faith as a compass and our trust in God as a light to find our way.  We can also turn to nature, opening our eyes and minds to its examples in order to help prioritize our activities or determine our directions.

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Sadie, Watching Our Dreams in the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them.” – Louisa May Alcott

May the clear skies of October filled with stellar sights allow us to see along our journey.  May what we see along the way help to open our eyes, give us direction for our path, and provide inspiration and strength for the miles remaining throughout the changes in our lives.   

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Crescent Moon in the Morning Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

Throughout the Changes in Our Lives

Crescent moon in the morning sky
Smiling through the last moments of the night
Spreading hope in the atmosphere
As the sun starts to glow in the horizon made clear
With the whisper of the wind
Blowing hither and fro again
Above the frosty dew upon the grass
Beneath the blue heavens grasp,
Held within the Lord’s hands at all times
Throughout the changes in our lives.

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Mother and Fawns Lisa A. Wisniewski

Mother and fawns in the woods at daybreak
Place their trust upon the Lord’s grace,
Staring intently into the distance at the rising sun
Quietly existing as the moments run
Through time’s river to the sea
Where youth is renewed along with energy
To guide the soul upon the path
As life unfolds and circles back,
Ebbing and flowing with nature’s tides
Throughout the changes in our lives.

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Orange Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Ball of orange setting in the west
As the clouds form and reflect
The light of the sun at the end of the day
Creating shadows that run as the light fades
Through the treetops now with more branches than leaves
Because of autumn’s expanding reach
Taking the daylight from the sky
And transforming it into the night
Where the crickets’ symphony
Rocks the soul within to sleep
After being tossed about under the sun and rain in the skies
Throughout the changes in our lives.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Directions From Afar Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Changing Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources and Related Links

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug – http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug

Woolly Bear Caterpillar – https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Pyrrharctia-isabella

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Listening To October’s Music

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Sunrise Song Lisa A. Wisniewski

The skies this past week have been filled with frilly, puffy, wispy, dense, and scattered clouds.  It seems the rain and the sun have been playing leap frog through the days of the week, one day full of bright skies, the next more dreary and gray.  The changes to the colors and the clouds observed during my runs, bike rides, walks, and time spent outside made me feel as if I was riding the notes of a song through the high choruses and low refrains.  As I contemplated this feeling, I was reminded of several songs that seem to fit the season and my feelings perfectly.

Letting Go

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The Old Walnut Tree Shedding its Leaves Lisa A. Wisniewski

The first song that came to mind was Suzy Bogguss’ Letting Go, a personal favorite from years ago that speaks of the struggles one faces through life’s changes.  As I watched the leaves falling from the walnut tree in the back yard, the words echoed in my mind:

…She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway,
Oh, letting go, there’s nothing in her way now,
Oh, letting go, there’s room enough to fly,
And even though she’s spent her whole life waiting,
It’s never easy letting go…

The song fit the week quite well, for the seasons changes and some life events have made me realize that I have to let go of summer’s wake, move on past some personal struggles, and be thankful for the experiences that are not meant to last forever.  Like the old walnut tree, I have to shed some leaves (most likely in the form of tears) and allow autumn to lead me onward through time.

Life’s About Changing

My reflections and revelation led me to another all-time favorite song, one that I turn to for understanding and guidance every time I need reassurance.  The song is Patty Loveless’ How Can I Help You Say Goodbye, and the words that resonate most with me are:

…Mama whispered softly, time will ease your pain,
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same,
Come let me hold you and I will try,
How can I help you say goodbye…

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Come Let Me Hold You Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I watched the colors in the skies change through the week, I felt as if God was offering these words to me, asking me to lean on Him, to trust in His ways, and to allow Him to help me through life’s struggles.  Several of my reflection readings echoed God’s wishes, asking me to recognize and accept the fact I am human and need help through the changes I am facing.  I also found encouragement in the following quote:

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

To Have You Back Again

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To Have You Back Again Lisa A. Wisniewski

This quote reminded me of my late uncle, whom my sister and I adored.  Actually, I thought he was Jesus, for he always found a way to brighten our skies.  Though he could not walk on water, he could ride a bicycle standing on the seat , always find time for my sister and me no matter what tasks he had to do, and never passed up the opportunity to have a little fun in life.

My uncle passed away in the fall of 1995, very suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving my family and me with a void the size of The Grand Canyon.  For many years I wished I could have more time with him, especially in the fall season, for that was when we raked leaves together and took walks in the woods on Sunday afternoons.

Often when summer changes to fall, I feel a tug at my heart, partly for the loss felt in my uncle’s passing and partly as if he is pulling me forward, asking me to find hope in the skies and nature.  This time of year always brings Patty Loveless’ To Have You Back Again to mind:

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Love’s a Chameleon Lisa A. Wisniewski

Love, love’s a chameleon
Makes one in a million
Feel like too much of the same
But leave, leave it behind you
And love will remind you
It was only you that changed

Oh, I’d give all my dreams
Give up my home and everything
I’ve ever known to have you back again
To have you back again, to have you back again
I’d stand in the rain, no place to hide
Drown in my shame, swallow my pride
To have you back again, to have you back again…

Songs in the Skies

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How Great Thou Art Lisa A. Wisniewski

On Tuesday morning this past week, I looked out at the predawn sky.  To my surprise, the sky was already growing bright, filled with crimson light with indigo and blue veils.  Given the day before had been gray and rainy, as well as filled with life issues, the sight lifted my spirits and gave me hope for the day ahead.  As I watched the sky grow brighter and full of color, a number of hymns came to mind, including: Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Rain Down, City of God, Prayer of St. Francis, and I’ll Fly Away.  Later that evening, the crickets called from over the hill as the stars came out.  The sounds and the sights of the day filled me with much needed energy, life, and hope.

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Fruitful Blessings Lisa A. Wisniewski

Inside, I sensed God was at work, trying to open my eyes, heart, and mind to His blessings.  I felt thankful for recognizing this, for having the experience, and for my faith.  Though I still dreaded some of the season’s changes and several upcoming events in life, I realized that time, faith, hope, love, and nature would pull me, as well as many others struggling with change, through to a better place in due time.  Perhaps the following quote summarizes this best:

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

May the changes we both welcome and dread lead us to better perspective and allow the light within to shine through the darkness.   May the songs that move us most give us comfort and strength through the miles of the journey, and may October’s music offer us peace in words both spoken and unspoken.

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Rising Soft and Slow Lisa A. Wisniewski

October’s Music

Echoing in the distance, rising soft and slow,
October’s music hits its rhythm as it flows
Through the valleys and the hills,
Past the creeks and fields tilled,
Dipping and swaying with the breeze
As the sun slips through the trees
Changing color with the tempo
Engaging the heart of the soul as it goes
Onward to time’s beat
Moving the soul toward its destiny.

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Sonnets and Snippets Lisa A. Wisniewski

Crickets in the night fill the air
With sonnets and snippets of praise unaware
Of the audience listening to October’s music
As the glistening dew rises from where it sits
To greet the heavens wide
In the symphony of nature’s tides,
Ebbing and flowing to the notes
Stepping and dosey-doeing as the waves collide
In the seas upon the shore,
Catching the beat once more.

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Leaves and Raindrops Falling From the Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

Leaves and raindrops falling from the sky
Create a rhythmic humming throughout the night,
Allowing the soul to drift off to dream
Of hopes and wishes and faith unseen,
Awakened by the dawn’s sonnet of light,
Spread across the heavens wide
To inspire the soul lost in October’s music,
Thankful to God to feel alive through it,
Through the notes and the melodies,
Through the rhythms that beat,
Through all the music in nature and in life
Leading it to peace in time.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Music For the Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Fire of Autumn Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing October’s Blue Skies

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October’s Blue Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

The skies this past week were mainly bright and clear, accented by colorful sunrises and sunsets.  We have been watching Venus rise in the morning skies and the moon grow fuller each night.  Tonight’s Full Hunter’s Moon was not visible due to cloud cover, which brought much-needed rain to our area.  With the rain came cooler, yet still comfortable temperatures and the smell of fall in the air.

Courage of Contrasting Skies

As the dogs and I stood watching the clouds move just before dark, I contemplated the contrast in the skies from sunrise to sunset and from day to day.  This contrast reminded me of a quote I read recently:

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” –George Santayana

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Contrasts of the Season Lisa A. Wisniewski

As someone who has studied and learned much from the changing seasons, I find this quote to be true.  Though I don’t like some of the changes (like less daylight or colder temperatures), I do realize the benefits of the variety and the necessity in nature for the changes.   My experiences have also led me to believe that it takes courage, understanding, and patience to accept such changes.

The courage part is key, for it allows us to open our minds to understand, which in turn leads us to patience and ultimately acceptance.  Courage is a quality that is somewhat of a paradox, for we need it both to persevere and to step back and reassess our path in life.  Perhaps the following quote states it best:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Anonymous

October’s Courage and Blue Skies

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Courage Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

Given nature’s many changes during October in my area, I have always viewed it as a courageous month.  Between the changing leaves, shifting daylight hours, and temperature variations, October is full of change.  The month itself handles the changes much more gracefully than I do, and I have learned much in observing October’s offerings.

One of my greater discoveries came years ago, when I realized October has the bluest skies in my area.  Since blue is my favorite color, and October is my favorite month, I thought this was quite fitting.  I surmised the vividness of the blue skies was due to the clearer atmosphere with less humidity and cooler temperatures, which is true.

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Blue of the Night Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

However, the reasons for the bluer skies may not be entirely scientific.  The color blue symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.  These qualities each play a part in building courage, which we all need in order to move forward through life’s changes.

This leads me to believe that October is the personification, or nature’s example, of courage, offered for all to see, observe, and reflect upon.  The observations and reflections we have help prepare us for the end of the calendar year and beginning of new seasons.  Going through these activities helps build strength and courage, as well as faith and hope, for our journey.

Autumn’s Allure to Change

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Perspective Lisa A. Wisniewski

As we go through the seasons of life, we may find certain times to be more pleasant than others, some days to be more blessed, and particular moments that simply stand out for reasons we can’t explain.  We may also find our perspective changes with the weather, colors around us, and our activity levels.  It is this perspective that sways our hearts, minds, and souls with emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

Whether we realize it or not, our perspective is often the difference between success and failure, understanding and uncertainty, tolerance and indifference.  Perspective is a paradox that can argue for and against us all at once.  It is a beauty that can be ugly, a tiny element that can make a huge difference, and a simple yet complex part of our character.

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Every Leaf Becoming a Flower Lisa A. Wisniewski

While we may not view autumn to be as nice of a season as spring, we can open our minds to a different view to give us the courage to accept each season for its good and bad qualities.  In opening our minds, we may need to consider quotes like the following:

“Autumn is a second spring wen every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

“Nature uses human imagination to lift her work of creation to even higher levels.” – Luigi Pirandello

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

May our life experiences lead us to accept change in time.  May sharing these experiences allow us to spread hope, faith, and love to those who need it most, and may the changes we see give us better perspectives in which to view October’s blue skies.

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Venus in the Morning Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

October’s Blue Skies

Venus in the morning sky
As the night grows dim before the sun’s rise
Above the dew on the grass and mist in the valley
Fading as the moments pass through nature’s galleys,
Little pockets of wonder and life
Hidden in the dockets of the story God writes
Full of wonder and intrigue
As the days pass under time’s mystique
Within October’s blue skies
Deep and true, strong and bright.

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Clear Blue at Midday Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clear blue in the midday sky,
Sheer beauty like a gem shining bright
Pure and clean, translucent and rich
Creating a sea full of life’s gifts
Above the trees swaying
With leaves changing
Color as the moments pass
Within the oceans that lap
Upon the shores of October’s blue skies
Blessed by the Lord’s grace and might.

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Full Hunter’s Moon Lisa A. Wisniewski

Full Hunter’s moon on the rise
Above the raspberry shoots and tomatoes left on the vine
In the garden below the clouds
Dancing in the wind as the beams reach out
Casting shadows in the twilight
As the quiet echoes in the night
Resonating near and far
Within the piers of the dark
Under October’s blue skies
Seen as blessings in time.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Perspective Panacea Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Evening Glory Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Color Blue Meaning – http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

Full Hunter’s Moon – https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-october

Venus in Morning Sky – https://www.space.com/33619-visible-planets-guide.html

Observing September’s Waltz

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September Dance Lisa A. Wisniewski

Temperatures soared to between 85° and 90°F in my area this past week.  Such high temperatures are not common in my area this time of year.   The very warm nights provided a backdrop for symphonies of cricket calls.  The quick heating up of the air each morning made for several misty dawns where the fog hung in the valleys and below the trees until the sun rose about ten degrees above the horizon.  Watching the foggy mist evaporate reminded me of how temporary conditions may be in life, often pulling us in and out as if we are dancing with nature to life’s song.

Low Notes

The warm air, combined with higher humidity and a lack of rain has forced some drastic changes in nature, including:

  • Forcing large patches of grass to go dormant at a time when it normally thrives
  • Contributing to an early leaf drop from the deciduous trees
  • Accelerating the molting, or needle drop from pine trees
  • Drying up ponds, pools, and creeks
  • Creating an abundant drop of acorns, walnuts, and buckeyes from the trees
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Early Leaf Drop Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though none of the above have reached extreme states yet, there is concern of drought and survival for wildlife.  One major concern is the amount of mud present from the dried up water areas.   The mud is a breeding ground for midges, or minute flies, which bite deer and livestock.  The bite has the potential to cause internal bleeding, or Epizootic hemorrhaging disease (EHD).

Within a few days, deer bitten by midges can develop mouth sores, internal bleeding, lethargy, and fever.  Though the disease is fatal for many deer, some deer do survive and have a higher immunity to the disease.  The first hard frost of the season is expected to reduce the midge population and allow the deer population to recover.

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Doe Along Path Lisa A. Wisniewski

The other night while riding my bike, I spotted a doe lying along a cleared path through the woods.  Since this is not a common sight, I grew concerned and watched her closely.  She was located on a ridge just above a neighbor’s pond, which reminded me of an article I had read about EHD.  She let me take pictures from a distance, but rose to her feet when I tried to move closer.  She did not appear ill, but may have been running for some time and had grown tired from the upper 80°F temperature and high humidity.  Another possibility is her having a close call with a vehicle.  Given her close proximity to the road, she may have run out in front of a vehicle and been slightly bruised or shaken by the incident.

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Doe Standing Lisa A. Wisniewski

I will probably never know why the doe was lying where she was or what will become of her.  However, my faith tells me that God will take care of her and provide what she needs.  My faith also tells me that God put her there to make me stop and think, to reflect on the precious aspects of life, and to recognize the many issues in the world around me.

Peaceful Rhythms

My concerned state for the doe was tempered during my lunchtime walk the next day, for I spotted some common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), whites (small white butterflies), and a clouded Sulphur.  The whites and Sulphur flitted about as if dancing with the breeze and the sun’s rays.  Trying to get pictures was a challenge, but the Sulphur landed for a few brief seconds, allowing me a shot at a picture.

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Milkweed Lisa A. Wisniewski

The flurry of activity in the brush beside the road was a reminder of how nature provides pockets of peaceful sights and settings, allowing us to break away from the busyness of our world.  The sight reminded me of several reflection readings that asked for a few moments of time offered to God’s grace and presence.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. –Matthew 11:28-30

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Sulphur Butterfly Lisa A. Wisniewski

I was also reminded of a hymn we sing in church called Be Not Afraid.

Be Not Afraid

You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety
though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands
and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

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Peace in the Sky Lisa A. Wisniewski

If you pass through raging waters in the sea,
you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the power of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you through it all.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

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Blessed Are You Lisa A. Wisniewski

Blessed are your poor,
for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked tongues insult and hate you
all because of me,
blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

-Written by Bob Dufford

Song of Life

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Sunrise Under the Walnut Tree Lisa A. Wisniewski

My experiences over the past few days made me feel as if nature’s song was flowing through my veins, asking me to listen, calling me to move, imploring me to feel the words and the music to the depths of my core.  The sunrises full of orange glows, the changing colors in the flowers and trees, the blue midday skies, and the crimson sunsets gave me hope for the unknown and a sense of God’s love despite the chaos of the world around me.

May September’s final days allow us to hear the music in nature’s song.  May the music and unspoken words inspire and encourage us upon the journey, and may we feel God’s love through September’s waltz.

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Misty Morning Lisa A. Wisniewski

September’s Waltz

Misty morning in the fields,
All of nature’s glory slowly revealed
As the sun ascends
Above the creek that runs to the extents
Of the valley in the distance
Where the deer live and run without resistance
Or hesitation through the trees
In their cyclical meditation as fall comes to be
In September’s waltz, whose melody echoes
As nature calls upon time’s notes.

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Wispy Clouds Amid a Blue Sea Lisa A. Wisniewski

Wispy clouds amid a blue sea
Spread around the heavens for all to see
Above the activities of the earth below
Where buzzing bees work as the flowers grow
Up to peak color and then fade
As the light seeps from the day
And the hues of the leaves
Change within the boughs of the trees
In September’s waltz, whose beat is the heart
Of the Lord’s call and nature’s art.

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Crimson Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Crimson sunset with an orange halo
Marks the day’s end with a show
Of God’s love for the soul
Watching the skies above to see the message unfold
Within time’s symphony
Whose lyrics find their way to thee
Through September’s waltz, soft and slow
With moments to remember in the music that flows
In and through over and over again
On the way to September’s end.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Break of Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

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Peace in the Night Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Be Not Afraidhttp://catholichymn.blogspot.com/2015/10/be-not-afraid.html

Epizootic hemorrhaging disease – http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12762972-74/virus-killing-hundreds-of-southwest-pennsylvania-deer-with-internal-bleeding

Matthew 11:28-30 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+11:28-30

Midges – https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/bitingmidge.html

Observing Nature’s Many Members

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Last Day of Summer Sunrise 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The past week has brought much sunshine, higher temperatures than normal, and no rain to my area.  Most of the days felt more like August than September, almost as if summer was saying it was extending its stay to keep autumn from arriving.  Though I understand the weather and the calendar seasons may not always concur or coincide, I am grateful when the more negative traditional or “normal conditions” are displaced by God’s grace through the light of the sun.

Many Members, One Family

As I ran, biked, and walked this week, I noticed a number of different types of asters in bloom, including:

  • White Heath Aster (Aster ericoides), which looks similar to a daisy, but more white petals
  • Stiff Aster (Aster linariifolius), with its distinct blue to pink ray flower heads
  • New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae), with its bright purple flower petals like rays around its yellow center
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Stiff Aster Lisa A. Wisniewski

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New England Aster and Goldenrod Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name aster is from the Greek word for star.  Also known as starworts, the aster family contains over 600 species.   Some of the species are known as garden flowers, but others are viewed as troublesome weeds.  The White Heath Aster has a very tough stem, and is also known as Steelweed because the stems are stiff enough to break a mower blade.

Many Members, One Body

The many different types and colors of the asters reminded me of St. Paul’s writings regarding the body’s many members and the need for each member’s gifts:

For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another.  But we have gifts differing according to the grace that has been given us, such as prophecy to be used according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, in ministering; or he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhorting; he who gives, in simplicity; he who presides, with carefulness; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. –Romans 12:4-8

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One of Nature’s Many Members Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Many Members Wtihin the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

St. Paul also explains the need for many members to build up the body:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. – 1 Corinthians 12: 14-20

One Bread, One Body

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One Light, One Faith Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though we each have a unique set of characteristics and talents to define us, we also belong to the family of humanity.  As such, we are united.  Though we may drive others crazy with our quirks and vice versa, we are united by nature of being human.  Perhaps this is the common thread society as a whole seems to forget by trying to categorize or group people into popular, unpopular, good, bad, and other categories.

We may also be linked through our faith or beliefs.  Though we may have many perspectives regarding our faith, we have the common thread of faith to unite or bond us.  Often in the Christian faith, we speak of one bread, one body in reference to Jesus.  Growing up, I remember singing a hymn in church that made me feel more a part of the congregation.  The hymn was called One Bread, One Body, and spoke many of the words of St. Paul:

One Bread, One Body

One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man no more.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Many the gifts, many the works, one in the Lord of all.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Grain for the fields, scattered and grown, gathered to one for all.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

Many Members of Nature

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One of Nature’s Many Members Lisa A. Wisniewski

Likewise, nature has many members.  From the flowers and trees to birds and mammals, amphibians and reptiles to mollusks and insects, living creatures and landscape features, nature has a plethora of diversity and beauty all its own .  As humans, we share nature’s umbrella, but sometimes fail to see the ties that bind us or the value within each other.

The seasons are also part of nature.  Each one has its unique characteristics and strong points, such as winter’s white and peaceful snows, spring’s green growth, summer’s long days, and autumn’s colors.  As we enter autumn and exit summer in my area, I am reminded of the qualities each season possesses.  These qualities may or may not be to my liking on the surface, but if I take time to examine and break down each one, I can find a perspective that is agreeable.

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Value in Variety Lisa A. Wisniewski

May we come to know and value the many members in our families and faith communities.  May we find perspective and grace in the differences and similarities we may have, and may nature’s many members lead us to peace upon our journey.

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Misty Morning Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Many Members

Misty mornings and suns on the rise
Announce the glory in all God provides
In the green of the fields and purple of the aster,
In the blue of the skies revealed as the clouds scatter,
In the red of the burning bush and orange on the trees
Slowly turning color at the end of summer’s dreams
To greet the coming autumn and shorter days
Within the seas of life’s change
Caught up in nature’s many members
Leading time’s run through September.

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Grazing Doe Encountered on a Bike Ride Lisa A. Wisniewski

Grazing deer and chipmunks scattering
As the light draws near to the crickets’ chattering
Last calls until night comes around
As the leaves fall with nary a sound
To create a colorful blanket across the landscape,
A fine mosaic woven by God through the days
Of nature’s many members and parts
Etching the moments of September into the stars.

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Last Lilies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Last of the lilies left on the stem
Rise as the sun casts its glow once again
Through the noon hours and into the river
Flowing in pursuit of peace delivered
In the whisper of the breeze and the arms of the sun
Wrapping around the soul as it seeks solace in a run
Observing nature’s many members made unique
All coming together in a fine tapestry.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Grace of God Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Peace in the Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

1 Corinthians 12:14-20 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+12%3A12-27&version=ESV

Aster definition – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aster

One Bread, One Bodyhttp://catholichymn.blogspot.com/2015/07/one-bread-one-body.html

Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife, An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/readers-digest-north-american-wildlife-readers-digest-editors/1118003359

Romans 12:4-8 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12

Observing September

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September Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

September is traditionally a transition month in my area, bringing the last days of summer and first days of fall, the return of students to school, and movement away from long hours of daylight to more hours of darkness.  The shifts are have the potential to be subtle or stark, depending upon conditions, perspective, and circumstances.

Shift, Shift, Shift

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September Colors For the Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

Through the years, I have found observing these transitions to be helpful physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The physical aspect comes into play as my body is challenged to rise above weather conditions in order to accomplish routine tasks, exercise regularly, and enjoy nature’s offerings.  Mentally, the increasing darkness historically throws a monkey wrench into my thought process, making me step back a bit and come up with a Plan B on more than one occasion.  Spiritually, I find myself drawn to the skies, constantly looking for the light to guide me on my journey.

The process of observing, adjusting, adapting, and accepting comes both consciously and subconsciously.   Looking around, I can see the changes in the colors of the trees, plants, grass, and fields.  I am cognizant of the gentle push nature is placing upon me.  Under the surface, I may or may not be thinking about the impending transitions.  In either case, time is moving me along, whether I wish to go or not.

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Changing Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Perhaps St. Paul had similar feelings and experiences as he stepped away from his former life of persecuting the church and into his role as proclaimer of the Lord’s work through Jesus.  As he describes in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, and other groups, he faces the constant struggle of being human.

“In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame…Wherefore we do not lose heart.  On the contrary, even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”- 2 Corinthians 4: 8-11, 16

Signs Along the Road

While running and biking this week, I found myself struggling with demands of the mind, body, and soul, as well as life in general.  In an effort to put some space between my warring factions, I searched for signs in nature to lead me peace, perspective, wisdom, or anything helpful.

My quest allowed me to find a number of wildflowers, trees, and animals.  Some of the highlights include:

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Doe Grazing Lisa A. Wisniewski

A doe munching on acorns in the front yard of a house along my biking route.  The doe did not seem to mind my closeness, allowing me to come within 15-20 feet to take pictures.  Though she acknowledged my presence with occasional long, alert stares directly into my eyes, she was preoccupied with her own agenda.  The sight made me consider how often we recognize God in life, yet fail to fully pay attention.

 

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Burning Bush Lisa A. Wisniewski

A burning bush, vibrant with deep red leaves.  The bush caught my full attention with its colors, standing out from the surrounding landscape.  Seeing the bush made me contemplate how often in life the answers we are seeking are before our eyes, yet we fail to see or accept them because of their packaging or appearance.  In a society that craves the ornate, fashionable, or trendy, we miss so much because we can’t get past the surface appearance, as the following quote illustrates:

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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All Ears Lisa A. Wisniewski

A rabbit with its ears straight up, as if listening to the entire world around it.  The sight reminded me of Jesus asking the people to hear:

“He who has ears, let him hear.” – Matthew 11:15

White pine trees molting, or shedding their needles.  The molting process is normal and seasonal for evergreens.  White pines have the most noticeable needle drop with very distinct yellowing needles amid green needles.  The trees reminded me of how we often need to purge or clean out in life.

In a world seemingly obsessed with possessions, it is

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Molting White Pine Tree Lisa A. Wisniewski

sometimes difficult to prioritize or give adequate value to our material objects.  Likewise, with so many options for information “sources” these days, it can be difficult to discern truth from fiction, good from bad, or useful from useless.  As a result, we find ourselves cleaning, donating, reflecting, or even retreating in an effort to free our minds, bodies, and souls of all the clutter.

Bright patches of late summer daisies and Rudbeckia.  The delicate, almost whimsical petals stood out from the browning grass, offering a ray of sunshine to my soul.  Seeing the flowers reminded me of how often in life people or nature can lift our spirits, offer a change of perspective, or give us hope.

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Daisies Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Rudbeckia Lisa A. Wisniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

May the days of September offer us opportunities to find what we are seeking, acknowledges changes in and around us, and broaden our perspectives.  May the colors we see act as guides upon our journey, helping us to learn, grow, and share.  May the transitions we make in life lead us to peace and overall wellness, allowing us to continue the cycle of giving and receiving upon our faith journey.

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September Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

September

September, colorful and unique,
Enchanting as it unfolds like a melody,
Playing in the wind blowing
Through the trees swaying and growing
Ever so vibrant at summer’s end;
Morning rose, gold, green, and red,
Burgundy, orange, sunbeam, and violet
Etching the landscape in the river of time
Running through the days upon the shore line.

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September, Quiet and Strong Lisa A. Wisniewski

September, quiet and strong,
Entwined in nature’s song
Penetrating the clouds in the sky
To embrace the sun’s light
Expelling the shadows in the fields,
Moving with compelling zeal
Backed by God’s love and grace
Enveloping the sod as the mist evaporates,
Rolling through the paths trod upon the journey made.

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Faithful and Secure Lisa A. Wisniewski

September, faithful and secure,
Encamped at the foothold of time’s store,
Placed for all to see
The wake of the waves as they stream,
Ebbing and flowing, rising and falling
Moving with time’s glowing moments calling
Before the hills and dales,
Echoing a the will of nature’s sails
Rustling to fulfill God’s promise unfailed.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Wildflowers Along the Road Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

2 Corinthians 4 – http://biblehub.com/2_corinthians/4-8.htm

Common sense – https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphwaldo122708.html

Matthew 11:15 – http://biblehub.com/matthew/11-15.htm

Rudbeckia – https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ruhi2

White pine tree molting – http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/seasonal-needle-drop

Observing Life on Spin Cycle

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Spinning Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Have you ever felt as if you were living in a blender or a washing machine on spin cycle? It seems the past week has been that way for us with so many end of summer activities, preparations for the coming change in seasons, and life’s way of changing plans.  Despite the chaos, we have managed to enjoy both the sun and the rain, get some projects done, and do a lot of reflecting on where we have been and need to be.

Changes All Around

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Maple Trees Turning in the Woods Lisa A. Wisniewski

While running and biking, I noticed colors of fall starting to creep into the landscape.  Burning bushes are now turning from green to red, bringing more color variety into the landscape.  Maple, buckeye, walnut, and cherry trees are shedding some leaves, allowing for better visibility into the woods.  Crops in the fields are being harvested by neighbors and local farmers, always a sure sign that summer is winding down.

Seeing all the changes in the fields and woods has been a good reminder of the many blessings bestowed upon this thing called life.  Though some of the changes bring a sense of sadness, others act as a marker or a guide allowing one to see work accomplished and lessons learned.  Though I am no longer attending classes or required to go to school, I am learning much in nature’s classroom each day.

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Buckeyes in the Breeze Lisa A. Wisniewski

It is the lessons we learn that lead us through the cycle of life.  Some lessons are difficult, others much easier to grasp, understand, and apply.  As we go through life, we find some lessons have negative results, making us step back a bit and reconsider our perspective.  Other lessons have more positive impacts upon us, allowing us the strength to change our perspective and move beyond where we have been.

Perhaps the following quote sums this up best:

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

Circles in the Sky

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Clouds Circling Around Lisa A. Wisniewski

Looking at the sky the other day, I noticed the clouds were swirled in circles of different sizes.  The sight reminded me that each chapter of life is like the circles, taking us around an orbit of sorts.  The path may be smooth and neat or more winding and even a bit messy.  No matter the neatness or complexity, time leads us through every nook and cranny, offering opportunities to explore, learn, grow, and share experiences.

The circles we make within our lives are what connect us to other people, places, and things.  Sometimes the circles break, leading us to spin off in a different direction.  Other times, circles collide, absorbing us in to a new set of circumstances, people, and places.  These circles lead us to adapt, accept, and change in time.  They may also lead us to forgive, forget, and find new ways to survive.  Though not every circle is embraced by the heart, mind, and soul, each circle is necessary to find what we are seeking under the skies.

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No Limitations Lisa A. Wisniewski

The greatest limits we have to overcome lie within ourselves.  Once we learn to recognize our limitations and their roots, we can adjust our thoughts or processes to obtain more desirable results, as the following quote illustrates:

“How far you go in life depends upon your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver

Full Moon in the Night

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Full Corn Moon September 2017 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The rise of the Full Corn Moon on September 6 was obscured by clouds, but once the moon rose to its apex, it was visible.  This year, Neptune was directly opposite the full moon, allowing light to be reflected off of the planet to make the moon appear brighter.

The cloud cover on the night of the full moon reminded me of how sometimes in life we have a sense of something we cannot see, yet know it is there.  This sense is often related to our faith, as well as our knowledge.  We use our faith and our knowledge as compasses to help steer our thoughts and emotions.  When things spin out of control in life, our faith and knowledge are tested.  Whether we pass or fail is not so much determined by the outcome, but more so by the inner workings we cannot see.  It is in these inner workings that we find our character, which in turn develops our attitude:

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James

Last Flowers of Summer’s Time

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Golden Rod Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I pedaled my bike tonight, rain started to fall.  Though I really did not want to get wet, I kept pedaling along my route, searching for wild flowers to brighten my spirit.  I found some goldenrod at its peak color of deep yellow and gold, a few tiny buttercups, several thin patches of chicory, and black eyed Susan.  Returning home, I found the autumn joy sedum in full bloom by the garage and a late crop of red raspberries ready to be picked in the garden.  The yellow, blue, orange, pink, and red hues stood out in the shadows being cast under the quickly darkening skies.

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Red Raspberries Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing the colors made me contemplate what determines our likes and dislikes in life.  I like brighter warm colors like yellow, orange, and red that lift my spirit, but am also fond of cooler blues and greens that seem to calm my soul.  Though I prefer the added light of spring and summer, I also enjoy the fall colors and cooler mornings, which are great for running.  While winter is not my favorite season, I do appreciate the time if offers to reflect, especially in quiet moments with the snow falling gently from the sky.

It has taken me many years of searching and going through the seasons’ cycles to determine what I like and how to get through moments I don’t enjoy very much.  Like the colors and types of flowers that come and go in nature, my emotions have peak times for blooming and moving me inside to places I do and don’t want to be.  However, I realize without this cycle, I would not really be living life.  Once again, it is one’s perspective that plays the largest part in where we go:

“A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” – James Lowell

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Black Eyed Susan Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Autumn Joy Sedum Lisa A. Wisniewski

Cycles and Circles of Life

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Cycle of Life Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

The experiences of the past week both in nature, at home, and at work have confirmed my long-held belief that the circles which surround us help define who we are.  In going through these circles, we experience cycles of life and growth.  While exploring these circles and cycles, we find zones of comfort and joy, displeasure and sadness, completeness and solace, and chaos and uncertainty.  All of the areas combined play a part in our willingness to explore.

As the following quote alludes, what we know and don’t know often lead us to some very complex questions and answers:

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Sir Francis Bacon

May the cycles and circles of life lead us to explore, change, and grow.  May the experiences we have within ourselves and with others allow us to find perspective and wisdom, and may our doubts and fears not confine us or define who we become.

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Misty Morning Lisa A. Wisniewski

Who We Become

Misty mornings under crimson skies
Spread before thee to conquer the night
And lead the way
Through the shadows of the trees and the river of time’s parade
To pockets of peace and moments of reflection
Where we come to see the light of life’s intercessions,
Full of changing times and tides
That rearrange each day in this life
Helping to define who we become
After the sun sets in the sky of heaven above.

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Buttercup & Chicory Lisa A. Wisniewski

Wild flowers and trees growing along the path
Add color and creativity to the moments had,
Building character, attitude, hope, and faith
As the moments move with the help of God’s grace
Through the cycles and seasons of life
With and without reasons in due time
Taking us around and about and around again
Like the winding route of the river within
Leading us through the waters to define who we become
As our days of youth give way to wisdom.

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Swirling Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

Clouds in the sky swirling about
Reflect the light as the earth turns around,
Casting shadows that are lost in the sun’s rays
As the river flows on toward another day
Full of more cycles and circles that spin
Us around before the moments granted and given
Through the blessings of life seen and unseen
That come to guide us to our destiny
Ultimately defining who we become
Through faith and hope and God’s love.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Perspective at Work Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Full Corn Moon – https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-names

Neptune Position Relative to Full Moon – http://www.newsweek.com/september-full-moon-fall-equinox-harvest-moon-2017-660176