Gratitude among contradictions

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly

Even as we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving this week, I am mindful that gratitude is seasonless and ever appropriate regardless of temporal circumstances. I have taken a long hiatus from this blog as I dove deep underground for reflection and renewal these past few months. Surfacing into a heavy teaching schedule this fall only complicated matters, yet each day brings something for which I am grateful.


 “I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take.” ~Suzy Kassem

There were many moments of beauty in the garden during those months. Flowers bloomed, butterflies graced the garden, and the rain came often to soak the ground and encourage growth and flowering. (click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Two weeks ago, the autumnal light slanted through the woods while the mild fall weather had barely turned the leaves into shades of red and gold.

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~Albert Schweitzer

Chestnut Oak leaf with acornsLast week, a freezing rain followed by snow turned the woods into a fairy land but bent to the ground many trees that had not yet dropped their leaves.

brokenpineboughsGrateful that our electric power stayed on,  several friends were not so lucky and dealt with many cold days and dark nights. Alas, our white pines suffered damage from the heavy load and lost several branches, crushing a chair beneath them. Fortunately the Chinese dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) trees sprung back up after being bowed to the ground. Resilience in nature is not to be underestimated!

Today’s frigid temperatures revealed roses frozen in mid-bloom and a bounty of rose hips from previous blooms that will feed birds throughout the winter. frozenrose

Even as people in many parts of our country and our world are in distress, I am aware of my blessings as I write this from the warmth of my home, my sweet Angel curled next to me, my husband serenading us on his guitar. How fortunate I am to have a home, a loving family, a beautiful garden, and meaningful work.  Marcel Proust reminds us “let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” swallowtailechinacea

May your soul blossom now and through the coming days and please, send a word of thanks to those who have given so much, regardless of circumstances. Heroes walk among us, every day people who give their time, their hearts and sometimes their lives.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. ~Albert Schweitzer

All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

35 thoughts on “Gratitude among contradictions

  1. Dear Lynn, Thank you for all. Tara and I have been doing a gratitude journal for a week or so which has been wonderful. I love your sentiments and your photos. The frozen rose is amazing, and the reminder that these frozen remnants of fall will feed birds through the winter. The last photo; symmetry of butterfly and flower is extraordinary. You photograph beautiful things but escape the cliches. I stand in admiration! with love, Doug

    • Doug, thank you for your kind words. A little synchronicity with the gratitude journals? That’s a great idea, actually. We’re going from snow to thaw and back to snow again, typical W Pa winter that came early.

  2. It’s good to have you back – with these pictures and words of rich wisdom. I think Bernard of Clairvaux wrote of ‘a perfume compounded of the remembered benefits of God’. Gratitude lifts the human spirit and encourages others. Thank you for this post.. It would do us well to have a public ‘Thanksgiving Day’ here in the UK. I hope your teaching goes well.

    • Thank you, Richard – it is good to be back. Gratitude does seem to clarify our hearts and minds and put everything into perspective, doesn’t it? I enjoyed catching up your your posts – so much wisdom and reflection to be found there.

  3. You’ve proved that we don’t have to look far to find beauty, because it’s right here, in your prose, and of course, in the garden. A flush of warmth issues from it all. I hope the busy holiday season is good to you!

  4. Thank you for sharing your beautiful images and words. You have a lovely depth to your photos and in the textures of your garden. Wishing you a happy thanksgiving.

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