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 Christian, Musique, Personal Musings

Voice of Hope

“So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” (John 12:13)

While listening to the Scriptures being read out during the morning lauds, the verses always give a fresh burst of hope, promise and strength. Derived from the Hebrew “hoshi’a na,” (translated in Greek as “(h)osanna”) implied “to save” was viewed as a plea for help. It was an act of surrender for His Help when the potential impact of something that is about to happen or has happened is realized. When things go out of hand, we turn to His Saving Grace and His Mercy for help. Using “hosanna” as a cry of help, means that one deeply realizes that we need His Help and His Mercy for we are stretched beyond our limit.

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalms 118:26)

Reading through the New Testament, the Scriptures say of the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem uses Hosanna as a proclamation of own faith. With faith comes hope of new beginning. When palm branches were placed in His Path, it marked the beginning of not just the tradition of Palm Sunday but the beginning of a new Salvation and the proclamation of the same. From deep fear, uncertainty and concern, we have shifted to complete hope, trust, confidence and acceptance of His Word and His Faith. Hosanna here means, adoration and praise as well as a cry of thanksgiving for the gift of His Salvation.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” (John 5:24)

As the past few weeks or even months have shown us, each of us have been pleading for His Help, His Grace and His Comfort during this widespread pandemic. Along with our plea, is the gratitude for how far we have got through these difficult weeks. From being bestowed with blessings in many different forms, hopes being raised intermittent or close saves to being free of illness; these gifts no matter how small or little may seem to be, are signs of His Grace.

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10)

Singing Hosanna from our homes and hearts should not just be cry for His Help, but also our cry of thanksgiving for His Help received and His Saving Grace. Though some of us may be still going through the lock-down phase, others bearing the effects of the illness, or of losses sustained; let us all bear in mind that His Strength would help us through.

While things have been bad, we have and will survive, especially to sing His Praise. For our Faith and His Salvation will help us through these days of now, and that of the future as well.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” (John 5:24)

Hosanna

I see the King of Glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes, the whole earth shakes, yeah
I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing, the people sing

Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees

Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Hosanna, Hosanna….

Excerpt from the song Hosanna by Hillsong Worship
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brooke Ligertwood
Hosanna lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

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

More than Paper Chains

Although winter is approaching, the autumn flowers still linger in the fields. As a part of the Sunday church community service, the youth group along with the children had visited the old-age centre in the nearest town. While spending time with the elderly age group; among the reading aloud to them, unraveling the knitting and helping in general, few children had taken with them crepe paper to start on the Christmas decorations. As paper chains of flowers and simple artwork were being done, the Lyrics of the “Chain of Love” came to mind, one of the popular songs during my school years.

“‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you'”…
( “The Chain of Love” is the third single from American country music singer Clay Walker’s album Live, Laugh, Love (January 2000). Lyrics were written by Rory Feek and Jonnie Barnett.)

This mid-tempo song , “The Chain of Love” narrates the story of three characters who, by helping each other in some way, form a “chain of love” amongst them. While hanging up the paper chains, each design was a reminder of the chains of love that we build amongst ourselves. One can chose not to make any chain, repair the torn chains with glue or make new designs everyday. Yet as the chains grow, they connect each one of us in a special way. While it may true that “what goes around, comes around”; know that life is not lived as a lone island. The gift of life, involves finding beauty in the world around us, sharing the joy and laughter and lending a helping hand, when felt or as required. As the chains connect us along the years, it brings to mind what life, time, love and kindness are all about.

The Chain Of Love
Clay Walker

He was driving home one evening
In his beat-up Pontiac
When an old lady flagged him down
Her Mercedes had a flat

He could see that she was frightened
Standing out there in the snow
‘Til he said ‘I’m here to help you, ma’m
By the way, my name’s Joe’

She said ‘I’m from St. Louis
And I’m only passing through
I must’ve seen a hundred cars go by
This is awful nice of you’

When he changed the tire
And closed her trunk
And was about to drive away
She said ‘How much do I owe you?’
Here’s what he had to say

‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you’

Well, a few miles down the road
The lady saw a small cafe
She went in to grab a bite to eat
And then be on her way

But she couldn’t help but notice
How the waitress smiled so sweet
She must have been eight months
Along and dead on her feet

No, she didn’t know her story
And she probably never will
When the waitress went to get her
Change from a hundred dollar bill

The lady slipped right out the door
And on a nakpin left a note
There were tears in the waitress’ eyes
When she read what she’d wrote

‘You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you’

That night when she got
Home from work
The waitress climbed into bed
She was thinking about the money
And what the lady’s note had said
As her husband lay there sleeping
She whispered soft and low
‘Everything’s gonna be alright
I love you, Joe’
(Source: Internet) 

Posted in Daily, Food, Musique, Stories Around the World

A Penny, A Bun…

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
– Roud Folk Song Index Number (13029)

Almost every parent, guardian or caregiver has heard of the predefined set of nursery rhymes (ranging from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to Ba Ba Black Sheep), especially when trying to make the young mind learn a bit of the English language, rhymes and songs. The above song “Hot Cross Bun” is no stranger to the set of these rhymes. However it was the smell of freshly baked buns (butter buns, fruit buns mainly) from the bakery near my workplace that would account for the sudden thoughts of “Hot Cross Bun” ( originally an English street cry) being dredged up from the grey cells. Like those memories that linger, thoughts of a pot of tea with fresh buns do enter the list of sudden urges for the taste buds occasionally.

This spiced sweet bun usually made with fruit and traditionally marked with a cross (as sugar toppings or partially sliced through) was associated with the end of Lent and is usually eaten on Good Friday. At times, spices are also added. These days hot cross buns are available all year round at most places, even in the supermarket chains with varieties like toffee, orange-cranberry, salted caramel and chocolate, apple-cinnamon, coffee flavoured, white chocolate and raspberry, banana and caramel, sticky date and the list goes on to being more creative and flavoured in certain bakeries and delis.

The exact origin of “hot cross buns” was historically believed to be associated with the rise of Christianity. During the Lent period, plain buns were made without any dairy products and eaten hot or toasted. Although archaeological evidence suggest that the Greeks (6th century) may have marked cakes with a cross. While one theory states that the Hot Cross Bun originated when where Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Albans Abbey (1361), developed a recipe (similar to hot cross bun) called an ‘Alban Bun’ and distributed them to the local poor on Good Friday.  Though the London street cry,”Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”, which had appeared in Poor Robin’s Almanac (1733) was the first ever definite record of hot cross buns. On trying to trace if these buns were made earlier than 18th century London, records of recipes come to a blank.

More of interest are the numerous traditions and beliefs surrounding these “hot cross” buns. While one says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year, others encourage keeping these buns purely for medicinal purposes or are carried along for long sea voyages to protect against shipwreck. Few kitchens may have a “hanging hot cross bun” which gets replaced every year, done so as to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out to be perfect and exquisite.

Be it the Lent season or not, hot cross buns are one of the best spiced buns are to have, especially hot or toasted ( or cold as per preference). The more the variety, the better. Moreover, one doesn’t need to wait for the right time to indulge that heavenly taste and flavour. With creative flavourings on the rise, these buns are definitely worth a try.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Musique, Reflections, Uncategorized

Through Uncertain Times

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

As I was stacking up the old newspapers for recycling; amidst them was last year’s calendar. With the accompanying monthly pictures being beautiful, I hadn’t discarded it but kept it aside to cut them out. With the pending task being accomplished, I leafed through the months and the tiny notes along the dates. “School reopening”, doctors’ appointment, “sports’ dates”, local functions aref ew of the many red or green inked circles that were scattered through the year.

“For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:33

Looking back, I felt blessed by His Grace and the countless ways He had kept watch over us and the daily happenings. At times, the feeling of wonder strikes as one realizes long after the difficult situations were over, how God had stood over our lives, guiding us with His Hand and by His Word. The relocation to a new place of work, new school year, family weddings and many more; all the big events within the family were felt big and difficult in those days; but went smooth largely due to His Grace and Blessings.

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” Martin Luther

Many a time, some of the changes in life may be forced. An unforeseen work related transfer, opportunity to pursue higher studies, ill health and the like. Though decisions are made, they mayn’t work out. Yet once we place it in His Hands and be prepared to do things as they come; then things start falling into place and happening at the right time. Eventually when the obstacle had been crossed, one realizes the true magnificence of His Grace, His Power and His Love. Man being man mayn’t foresee many things. How much more better it would be ], when we put everything in His Hands, put in our efforts and await His Will to show us the way.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

“….I am one of those who are determined to go to the end.
I will not slow down the pace, I will not look back, but I will praise Christ.
I will not give up, do not shut up,
Do not weaken and do not burn.
I will not finish praying, with Christ I stand.

I am one of those who firmly decided to go to the end.
I can not stop, do not buy, do not hold.
And when He comes to pick up his own, he will recognize me,
Because I am one of those who have come to the end.

And if the salt loses its power that will replace it?
And lit a candle, do not put it under a vessel.
Here I am before You, use me for Your glory
On earth, Jesus, let Thy will be done

Olga Yatsenko ( few lines of Poetry/lyrics of “Till the End”, translated to English)