Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

“They still Smile”…

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

Meeting these little smiles on a Saturday afternoon ( as a part of the weekend voluntary community service) taught me a lot about life, His Grace and happiness. Attached to the hospital, along with the regular hospitalized patients, in association with the local NGO, there was a small home set up for the cancer patients ranging from the elderly and the few enrolled children, meant for their regular chemotherapy and minor hospitalizations. The purpose was to avoid them being cross infected by the general population. Spending an afternoon with them teaches one about the real essence and gifts of life.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:16-17)

Despite the pain of the disease and the load of chemotherapy, the smile on their faces especially the little ones, never wavers. For them, the disease is indeed a part of their life but it doesn’t rule them. From engaging in their activities of school lessons, music and learning new skills of art and the like; their days aren’t lost in cribbing about their state of affairs, finding fault with life and God. Instead the spirit of resilience is seen in their approach to life. In comparison, it shames one when thinking about the usual grumbling at own lives, at the workplace or even within.

Interacting with the caregivers too, one learns a lot from their quiet acceptance to the strength that radiates from within. On seeing the suffering and the pain of their wards, along with the lost years of life can result in any parent or guardian being depressed, loosing hope in His Faith and dwelling in the negativity. Yet they face all those, come out from the bouts of depressing thoughts and conquer the storm within; so that their children can have their happy moments in life. While certain things may never change, the way we live in the present matters the most. No one ever knows the entirety of His Plan, but what one does know is that His Hope, His Grace and His Love is sufficient to survive in the world of the present.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Isaiah 58:8-9)

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Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Reflections

Remove by their Root

“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.” Dogen

Working on the patch of garden with my little toddler was fun time. Although those little hands were busy with the spade to loosen out the mud; the major fun lay in the activity of pulling out the unwanted weeds, popping up in amidst the patch of chrysanthemums. Initially their stalks used to only come off. Later on he had painstakingly ensured that the entire weed, along with its’ roots was collectively removed. As long as the thrill of getting his hands muddied wasn’t negated, he enjoyed the fun time in the little flower bed. The surprising part about weds is that, one doesn’t water or nurture them; yet they still come up.

“Pull them out by their roots.”

As the weeding process was going on, one can’t help look into the personal weeds in our lives. Whether those weeds be as false influences, challenges, setbacks, wrong beliefs, negative people, biased criticism and so on, the list is always endless. There is always something cropping up in our lives at the wrong time and unwanted places bringing about the negative energy and slowing down one’s own potential. At each stage of one’s life, they occur in different forms.

“ You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.” Joel Osteen

 

Letting the crop of weeds grow and multiply out of sheer laziness, lack of prioritizing or neglecting them without foreseeing the future damage, would result in an increased load of work and trouble in the not too distant future. On the other hand, when timely dealt with, these weeds would be nothing more than a difficult situation easily conquered.

“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.” Shirley MacLaine

On dealing with the negative aspects that one encounters in life, is to the to the root of the problem and deal with them one by one. Eventually the unwanted weeds may be regrouped into something more beautiful or removed to make way for the better surroundings to shine. The only caution is to pull out the negativeness in it’s entirety. Else just as one believes them to be removed, they would crop up with double the strength later on, being a nuisance more then than now. As each crop of problems arise, solving and settling them from their root level help us come out of the situation soon; giving fresh courage, experience and hope to face the next crop of trouble or negativeness as they come fresh again.

“As time goes by, you seem to weed out the things that were making your life hard.” Tom Petty

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Maintain the Balance

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

Of recent, few multinational companies have been allotting compulsory leave days for their top employees. These few days after every four months or so, come with a half pay and an order not to be seen in the company premises for either completing the new projects, clear the back log or develop new ideas. The whole idea was to “take a break” from the professional life and grow the personal one. In a way, these organizations have done this so as to increase the employee productivity as well as better the general work efficiency on the whole.

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” David O. McKay

When a young adult enters the modern career world, the importance is laid in establishing a good professional life, earning good money and save for the future. As time goes on, one may start a family or become a part of one. Being social beings, we crave for close relationships and bonds as thick as blood. Yet once family and friends arrives, certain things may be taken for granted; especially time spent with the latter. When one realizes the error soon, time may be left to pick up the broken links and rebuild them.

“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In the process of rebuilding, the metal once scarred or bent mayn’t be as strong as it looks. For the builder it involves immense effort to re-link the chains as compared to when building in flow with the fresh meta links. While wealth, riches, fame and materials are necessary for the social or professional order in life; it is the close knit web of family and bonds that help one to heal, grow, nurture and flourish away from the outside world. As one nurtures or is being nurtured by the family, the children of tomorrow are minor extensions of today. These inquisitive minds learn more from actions and deeds than words. In order to live life to the fullest, learning to balance the entire framework of professional as well as personal life is what brings fruit to the former. Time is always there to reform as long as one decides to put their priorities and focus in the right manner.

“The single most important factor in our long-term happiness is the relationships we have with our family and close friends.” Clayton M. Christensen

‘So now you have a farm, two houses, and four cars, correct?’ asked Marcelo. Ivan nodded. ‘Well done!’ Marcelo smiled amicably to his old friend. ‘And what else have you got? A master’s degree from University of Chile, a good and stable job, and what else? Money, ah, how much money have you got? More than a hundred million pesos, I suppose?’
Ivan did not reply, but his smile meant a ‘yes’ to all of the questions. ‘And with all of these in your hands, you’re still the first to arrive at work and the last to leave, yes?’ For the second time, Ivan nodded. ‘For how long?”Three years and a half.’ ‘Oh, poor Ivan Espinoza,’ Marcelo sighed. For a moment he stopped talking. The conversation that previously was filled with laughter and jokes suddenly turned itself into a deep silence. Marcelo gazed over Ivan and tapped his right shoulder tenderly. An air of confidence was transpired from the light of his eyes, despite his graying eyebrow. ‘My friend, did you see that table?’ ‘Yes,’ Ivan glanced to a table next to them. ‘How many legs?’ ‘Four’
‘If you break one of the table’s legs, will you have a balanced table?’ ‘No’
‘So is life. It’s got four legs: education, money, a job you love, and a family you adore. If you break one of life’s legs, you will have an imbalanced life,’ remarked Marcelo. Sighing, the man paused for a little while before continuing. ‘Now you have a good job, money, and proper education, but you don’t see your children except when they are asleep before and after work. Is that a balanced life? You work for your family, don’t you?”Yes.’
‘So why do you work so hard but spend less time with them?’
Written by Subhan Zein

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Mark Left Behind

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare

Walking into the shopping centre (similar to Walmart) downtown, unknowingly one would be found scanning their eyes at random for the familiar face of the friendly store clerk. On spotting that familiar “friendly face” shopping becomes easier especially when figuring out the offers. One longs for that similar friendly face in public offices, the court as well as at the municipal office, to get the unfamiliar procedure, forms, certifications and the rest sorted out to the layman.

In this era, where time always runs short for everybody; offering help, being kind, of grace and courteous isn’t always easy. Amidst loads of paperwork, targets to be achieved, over time hours, less holidays, rushing through two to three jobs to make ends meet; doing a job with utmost professional gains at time more importance than being kind, helpful and humane. For those who learn to balance both; their faces leave a distinct impression in the minds of those who meet them.

“Some people come into our lives, leave footprints in our hearts and minds and we are never the same again.” Jared Leto

Besides the work that we do for the basic bread and butter, the individual prints of approaching each turn that life takes one through, shows hint of the true character and underlying personality. Our every action, word and deed echoes more about ourselves than the promises that we make. The inner person reflects what it is within, for the world outside to see. Just like every vessel will pour out what it has or contains, so will a person leave their prints behind. While the first impression may be the best one; if the ones that follow aren’t true, losses would happen in the long run. Being kind and true within is what makes the difference in the lives of each person, whether it be their social, personal or professional life.

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” Harold S. Kushner

The old man shuffled slowly into the restaurant. With head tilted and shoulders bent forward, he leaned on his trusty cane with each unhurried step. His tattered cloth jacket, patched trousers, worn out shoes, and warm personality made him stand out from the usual Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Unforgettable were his pale blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, large rosy cheeks, and thin lips held in a tight, steady smile.
He stopped, turned with his whole body, and winked at a little girl seated by the door. She flashed a big grin right back at him.

A young waitress named Mary watched him shuffle toward a table by the window. Mary ran over to him, and said, ‘Here, Sir . . . let me give you a hand with that chair.’ Without saying a word, he smiled and nodded a thank you. She pulled the chair away from the table. Steadying him with one arm, she helped him move in front of the chair, and get comfortably seated. Then she scooted the table up close to him, and leaned his cane against the table where he could reach it.
In a soft, clear voice he said, ‘Thank you, Miss . . . and bless you for your kind gestures.’ ‘You’re welcome, Sir.’ She replied. ‘And my name is Mary. I’ll be back in a moment and if you need anything at all in the mean time, just wave at me!’ After he had finished a hearty meal of pancakes, bacon and hot lemon tea, Mary brought him the change from his bill. He left it lay on the table. She helped him up from his chair and out from behind the table. She handed him his cane and walked with him to the front door. Holding the door open for him, she said, ‘Come back and see us, Sir!’ He turned with his whole body, winked and smiled, then nodded a thank you. ‘You are very kind.’ he said softly.

When Mary went to clean his table, she almost fainted. Under his plate she found a business card and a note scribbled on a napkin. Under the napkin was a one hundred dollar bill. The note on the napkin read . . . ‘Dear Mary, I respect you very much and I can see you respect yourself too. It shows by the way you treat others. You have found the secret of happiness. Your kind gestures will shine through to all those who meet you.’ The man she had waited on was the owner of the restaurant where she worked. This was the first time that she or any of his employees had ever seen him in person. 

Written by Steve Brunkhorst

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Work

Face the Sun

“Sunflowers end up facing the sun, but they go through a lot of dirt to find their way there.” J.R. Rim

After a month of restructuring the church garden, along the walkway numerous flowers were planted in and tended to. In keeping with the harmony and serenity of the garden, alongside the path, sunflower seeds were planted in. Later as the crop of sunflowers began to grow out, it was a pretty sight for sore eyes. Surprisingly on further tending to these flowers, it was surprising to note that few of them with their tall spindly and skinny stalks hadn’t started from the soil directly below; but had begun under the bugger rocks outlining the sandy path. Few had begun below the heavy rocks and had grown around them to stand tall, facing the sun.

“With zealous step he climbs the upland lawn,
And bows in homage to the rising dawn;
Imbibes with eagle eye the golden ray,
And watches as it moves the orb of day.”
– Darwin

While restructuring the bed of sunflowers, one can’t help but be awestruck at the strength of their seemingly spindly stalks. No matter from where they originate, they always find their way out, to finally face the sun. On trying to imbibe their strength into the daily life, each one has an inner core of potential and capabilities that largely go untapped. One of the many reasons for losing out on the inner ability lie in the reality that one tends to believe less in their own strength. Viewing every obstacle simply as a hurdle doesn’t help, unless we find a way to “go around it”. The environment around one will sustain every situation as long as one is determined to search out a way to use the resources at hand to overcome the obstacle, live the dream within and brighten the day by the rays of the sun.

“ Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower

Oh sunflower! The queen of all flowers,
No other with you can compare,
The roadside and fields are made golden
Because of your bright presence there.
Above all the weeds that surround you
You raise to the sun your bright head,
Embroidering beautiful landscapes
Your absence would leave brown and dead.

Oh queen of the September morning
You watch for the first ray of sun,
And salute the bright orb as it travels
Till the bright day of autumn is done.
Tho’ sickles may slay in the pasture,
And the plowman destroy in the field,
Yet, still will the corners and by-ways
The seed for the future years yield.

Then, Sunflower, peep over the fences
And cover the hillsides with gold,
And out in the cornfields, if tempted,
Again take thy claim as of old;
Salute, too, and nod to the stranger,
Who travels the dusty highway,
He’ll worship the sun crown you’re wearing
And love you for brightening his way.

So, Sunflower, grow tall in the meadow
And spread to the breezes your arms,
No matter if some do molest you
And try to destroy on the farms,
Let thy stalk all the season still gather
The sunbeams that come dancing by;
And then in September unfold them
To dazzle with splendor the eye.

– Ed Blair

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

To Strengthen Oneself

“To every disadvantage there is a corresponding advantage.” W. Clement Stone

As the founding day of the establishment where I work at was drawing near, a wide range of activities were planned to mark the jubilee year. Among them was the reuse, reduce and recycle plastic waste project, with door to door campaigning and collection of recyclable plastic. One can then imagine the huge gap in the team when one of its members fell from the parapet and ended up with a cast of one leg. Although the team had changed members, time wasn’t wasted, but by taking to social media, speech and other funding measures to gather support for the project. What may be an unfortunate event, didn’t feel so when time, effort and means are taken to get the goals accomplished.

“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.” Roy T. Bennett

As history has time and again proved, as seen by the lives of Stephen Hawking, Christopher Reeves and many more; every perceived disadvantage, misfortune or flaw can be made to one’s advantage, when used with the right support, training, effort and will to make something of their time in life. If one’s biggest weakness is the perceived fear or inability to do a skill; then gaining courage to do it will not put the fear to rest but also open the doors of opportunity. Learning to use the perceived defects us in, to master and strength them would make the difficult trials feasible.

“In life, try your best to do the right thing. Have fun while you’re alive. Take advantage of every asset you have. Don’t take anything for granted.” Justin Chon

This story is of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move. ‘Sensei,’ the boy finally said, ‘Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?’ ‘This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,’ the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.
This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a
time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. ‘No,’ the sensei insisted, ‘Let him continue.’ Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake; He dropped his guard and instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.
‘Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?’ ‘You won for two reasons,’ the sensei answered. ‘First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.’ The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.
By Joel Garfinkle

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Real Skill

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius

With a fundraiser planned as part of the community projects at the work place; each one was designated a special set of tasks based on individual choices and skills. Some were forefront with the raising funds sections, while others were allotted in projects from cooking to art, designing posters and so on. Amidst all this, comparisons and remarks were found in the conversations regarding the ability or lack of special talents or skills. The truth is each one is skilled in their own way. While one may excel at baking, the other may be better at managing events or designing the vent posters. Each one has their special own skills.

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.” Charles R. Swindoll

Beyond the skills that define one, it is the mind and the attitude behind them that reflects the real self within. Each one is skilled or can excel at certain tasks; but knowing one better than the other, doesn’t imply that one person is better than the other. Believing that one is defined by their skills alone, is a foolhardy thought. Each one is gifted in a way of their own. Yet beyond that, it is the mind that matters more. One can always outshine the other at the same or similar art; but keeping a kind, humane and gentle approach will leave a characteristic individualized hand-print behind, for the rest of the world to observe, reflect and learn from.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl R. Rogers

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. ‘There,’ he said to the old man, ‘see if you can match that!’

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. ‘Now it is your turn,’ he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target. ‘You have much skill with your bow,’ the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, ‘but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.’
Author Unknown

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates