Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Into the Next Over

While scheduling the work events for the next week and corresponding them into the wall calendar in the kitchen was when the irony of the innumerable uncertainties of the year that was the present.

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

Despite all the chaos of the year, there are many things one would have been grateful for. There would also be many blessings that were received with surprise and gratitude; the help from unknown corners; kindness from a strangers and the unexpected blessings in the midst of perceived or true adversities. Through all this, one has prevailed and reached the next set of overs. What we do carry forward from the year previous are the lessons from the failures or choices that were made. Gather them and reap their benefit by looking beyond the emotional tangents and then strike ahead in the next given set of overs. Sometime we will eventually hit the boundary or go beyond it, and score more than the runs we expect.

“I close my eyes to old ends. And open my heart to new beginnings.” Nick Frederickson

One of the tangible things learnt this year among the known concept of the humane ability within each of us to adapt or survive, is the courage to do so. All of us have that strength in us to survive the falls in life; we just need to bring out the courage lying deep down. Let the dormant courage come to life, and steer us ahead. To find it, just put one foot in front of the other and take a few baby steps. Soon we will learn to walk and navigate those rocky paths with faith, courage and hope. Just move ahead, we all can do it.

Turn of a Year
Joan Houlihan

This is regret: or a ferret. Snuffling,
stunted, a snout full of snow.

As the end of day shuffles down
the repentant scurry and swarm—

an unstable contrition is born.
Bend down. Look into the lair.

Where newborn pieties spark and strike
I will make my peace as a low bulb

burnt into a dent of snow. A cloth to keep me
from seeping. Light crumpled over a hole.

Why does the maker keep me awake?
He must want my oddments, their glow.

Posted in Christian, Musique, Photography Art, Reflections

Chimes of the Day

“Christmas Bells”
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As the lights twinkle nearby, both above and nearby, they bring a Christmas different from the year previous. Instead of the usual family all pouring in, this year it would be a half and half, few of us together and the rest sharing in the joy from different parts of the world or even the same state or areas as well. Whichever way it may be, the essence of Christmas doesn’t change.

With the last minute preparations being completed, the candles are lit, ribbon-ed and christingles are completed; it all brings to the mind of the faith that things will always change for the better. As Christmas always reminds us of the unconditional love God had for each of us, bringing light into an otherwise dark world. Though the seasons change and winds may go against us, there’s always the hope that His Light gives. Even the dark cloudy skies have the occasional twinkle from the stars that lie in them. All one needs to do, is to hang on and do their bit; for the rest will come through.

“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Mathew 2:9-11)

As this Christmas comes and will soon go by, to remember to carry on the message of love and peace is what is important. To make room in our hearts for those who need a hand. To know to cherish, support and love those around us. And above all, to always share a little bit of kindness along the way as we go across different paths is what brings the sparkle and peace to not not just the lives that go by us, but into our own as well.

As each Christmas says, let the spirit of love and goodwill always be a part and parcel of us, no matter how troubled or different times may be. For as always, love, hope and faith shall conquer all.

“Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad.”

“Music on Christmas Morning”

Music I love -­ but never strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine -­
As that we hear on Christmas morn,
Upon the wintry breezes borne.

Though Darkness still her empire keep,
And hours must pass, ere morning break;
From troubled dreams, or slumbers deep,
That music kindly bids us wake:
It calls us, with an angel’s voice,
To wake, and worship, and rejoice;
-by Anne Brontë

Posted in Christian, Life, Musique, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Wonder across the Sky

“Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.” (Source:nasa.gov)

“The celestial conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn planets will take place on Monday, December 21, 2020. … During this conjunction, the two large planets come so close that they appear to make a bright double planet.” (Source: timesofindia.com)

After the chaos of settling down the house for the evening, it was a quick sneak up the terrace for a view of the “celestial conjunction” or as popularly put as the “Christmas Star” for this year. An eagle-eyed search lead the seeker to believe that the eyes have made out this “end-of-the-year treat”. On locating what was believed to be “the treat”, the eyes went a couple of planes ahead and above. Oh behold, the magnificence of the sky.

To witness the gift of His creation, one doesn’t need to visit the exotic places or the most eagerly anticipated trips to the seven natural wonders of the world. The wonders lie in our own backyards, terrace and skies above our abode and oh yes, even in us as well. Though sometimes to find it, we need to be still and know ourselves.

Truth is we all have that something special in each one of us. In our haste to explore the world, we lose ourselves in the chaos and fail to reconnect and embrace life as a whole. As the gifts of the sky and His Grace always show; sometimes one needs to just stand still and believe in order to appreciate the beauty in this world around us.

Life is such that, happiness isn’t always enclosed in gaily wrapped packages. Sometimes it’s there in the air, but we don’t see it. Instead we crave for the next one or the forbidden, missing out on what was there in grasp. As Christmas always says, His Glory and His Grace is always there; when one finds it, the happiness, joy and above all, the peace that one always longs for will be in our reach.

“Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!”….
(Lyrics from Silent Night lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave; Source: LyricFind, Songwriters: Traditional)

There are innumerable glories as well as countless gifts and blessings that we come across. Some we know, many we don’t. Yet the more we know and learn to appreciate, these would be put to better use. As the year comes to a close, let this season teach us not only to share the love and joy, but also learn to be still, find ourselves and on the whole, be a part of His miracle.

Posted in Family and Society, Musique, Personal Musings, Reflections

As the Music Goes

Sitting cross legged and rummaging through the stack of boxes wasn’t an ideal way to spend the one hour break from “the work from home routine”, but it was a necessity, for the demand had risen up quite a few decibels. Oh yes, the search is for those Christmas CDs, not that the music player list is not saved on the desktop, but here’s something rustic and nostalgic in winding down with some good old carols and Christmas music, for both the young and the old. While many of the CDs by themselves carry a lot of memories, there’s a special feel to listening to the lyrics and preparing for the Christmas time.

“Here’s the gift of Christmas, the world at it’s best
We mustn’t forget why the gift of Christmas
Can help remind us remember the rest….”
(Lyrics from Dannii Minogue – The Gift Of Christmas )

Talking about the feel, the essence of Christmas lies in the selflessness of love and kindness. This is one season wherein the spirit of giving comes alive. Regrettable though is the reality that the “giving” doesn’t go beyond the last month of the present year, over to the next year. For some it may, but then it gets tempered down with time. Seeing the holiday season come to full effect, reminds one to go beyond the commercialization and celebrations and carry over the Christmas spirit within oneself. It may start with one small act, words or thoughts; but as the chain effect goes on, the ripples created will last through the ever-changing winds.

To be kind to the self and to those around us. For that is one of the best gifts to receive and pass on, the spirit of happiness to last through all the seasons of time. As the music and lyrics go, let these last couple of days of the year bring forth and keep alive the thoughts of humaneness and kindness all year round.

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Flavour to the Season

“Cocoa, chocolate, candy sticks, raisins, nuts, sprinkles, glaces cherries….(something’s missing though..oh yes) and “marshmallows (three extra large packs)”….”

The above dialogues were a part of the conversation on the drive to the larger town for the purchase of this season’s must haves. With free hours, this sudden impromptu plan needed an emergency list, for visits to the nearest metro city was almost like going for a short tour to the nearest hill station, thanks to the present global scenario.

Essentially a confectionery made of sugar, a whipping agent (aerator) and water mixed with air; marshmallows have a history that goes as early as two millennial before the anno Domini ear. As the records go, the Egyptians were believed to be the first to make them. Surprisingly the first marshmallows were prepared from the roots of Althaea officinalis, a mallow plant species wherein the pieces of root pulp was boiled with honey till a thickened mixture was formed. This mixture was then strained and cooled before being added to the various preparations; both as a medicine to soothe coughs and sore throats or to the recipes of those days.

Towards the mid 19th century, the simple marshmallow reached the French confectioners to be remodeled into a fluffy candy mould, the “Pâte de Guimauve” which was made from whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites into a white spongy desert. Later these mallow roots were replaced with gelatin to create more stability to the marshmallow. The present ropy or cylindrical marshmallow, a must-have for the winters and holiday seasons, was the brainchild of the Greek American confectioner Alex Doumak. In fact, no two brands (homemade or commercial) or varieties of marshmallows give the same flavour. Whether it be the difference in the concentrations of egg whites or gelatin (some include agar) or the ratios of sucrose, corn syrup or invert sugar, combined with the special flavours like vanilla or lemon juice; the marshmallow often lends a unique twist to the regular, especially the season favourite of hot chocolate.

All said and written, there’s something about the marshmallow that gives that little extra zing to the simple preparations or exotic ones like crazy snack pie, mini fluffernutter brownie cups, panini or even the s’mores latte. So into the cart, goes three extra large packets of them, for this season’s holiday cooking.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

“A”-Way we Go

With the sudden chill in the air, announcing the arrival of early winter showers; the sodden steps of the porch bore the evidence of the persistent rain overnight. Surprisingly the small backyard kitchen area wasn’t covered by wet pools; more likely that the winds of rain didn’t go that way. While wiping out the excess water from the porch steps; it brought to mind the directions that we go in our lives.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Different people, different lives and situations and of course, winds that blow in varying directions and at odd times. Comparing life to a ship a sea is a familiar analogy that even non-avid readers (or as mildly known as keen newspaper readers) are familiar with. As always the analogy states, it’s about the outcome of how we get to the other side or the destination. It is the captain who mans the ship and sets the sails or the motor in motion, steering it, to reach the shore safe.

Switching the focus into each of our ships that we are a part of, the facts lie in not just how we steers but also in who guides us and gives us the inner courage and the will to forge ahead. In other words, who gives us the peace and calmness to the mind, heart and soul within each of us. That is the answer that one always seeks for. While a part of it lies in His abundant Grace and His Love, another part of the answers is what makes us whole. A part of it is the emotion of love, humaneness and kindness that binds together as a family, a unit, as friends or neighbours or makes the network or own social circle a welcome place to be in. Into the last month of the year, finding the will to steer and prepare ourselves to write or start off another segments in the life that we live.

The Set of the Sails
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That decides the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
‘Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Quotes

Start of the End

Into the first few days of the last month of the year, brings out a fresh leash of hope to many. A yearning that the uncertainty and surprises (not of the nice variety) that this year had brought about, would come to an end. A wish that things would be happening for the better, from hence on. Bringing about this season of hope, the Advent, is also a journey to hold still, reach within and find the true self. It is a time to refrain from the hustle and bustle of the routine; take off for a few moments and spend time with those or for those, who really matter and need it. It is a time to ponder, wonder and say Grace for those tiny little miracles that happened along the way, known or unknown to the self, or even if known so, only in retrospection.

“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.” Pope Benedict XVI

Whether one celebrates Advent or not, the last few leaves or columns on the calendar, do highlight the fact that this year is drawing to a close. At the end of the day, whether the coffers or the belly be full, what really matters is whether we have the happiness and joy to hold within our hearts and souls. And above all, how many smiles are seen around.

As we all have reached the end of the year, with the longing of new beginnings for the season of promise comes upon each one of us. Bringing this season closer to our hearts and soul, starts by being true to our own self. In doing so, one not only gets to embrace their happiness, but throws off rays of hope for those around them. For it’s these small lights that bring out the beauty of the dark skies.

“Advent is the time of promise; it is not yet the time of fulfillment. We are still in the midst of everything and in the logical inexorability and relentlessness of destiny.…Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness. But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. From afar sound the first notes as of pipes and voices, not yet discernable as a song or melody. It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold. But it is happening, today.” Alfred Delp