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

From the Ashes to Hope

“The darkest hours are just before dawn.” English proverb

Of recent times, the town had seen a couple of new start ups’, businesses that have been flourishing over the past three years. Initially they had started small, one had crashed in between and had later had caught on; while few others had stayed steady on from the beginning. Yet what comes to mind on walking down the market road, was how fragile time is and how we must learn to rise up every now and then from the ashes of our efforts, similar to the phoenix.

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas Salk

 

As per the Greek mythology, the phoenix (Ancient Greek: φοῖνιξ, phoînix) was a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix is believed to die in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. Among the different traditions concerning the lifespan of the phoenix, by most accounts the phoenix lived for 500 years before rebirth. Among the old records of Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Ovid among others, the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif has been done in detail. As per these historical records, the phoenix symbolized renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life”. In the Old English Exeter Book,  an anonymous 677-line 9th-century alliterative poem has been written consisting of a paraphrase and abbreviation of Lactantius, followed by an explication of the Phoenix as an allegory for the resurrection of Christ.

Þisses fugles gecynd fela gelices
bi þam gecornum Cristes þegnum;
beacnað in burgum hu hi beorhtne gefean
þurh Fæder fultum on þar frecnan tid
healdaþ under heofonum & him heanna blæd
in þam uplican eðle gestrynaþ. (In the Original Old English)

This bird’s nature is much like
to the chosen servants of Christ;
pointeth out to men how they bright joy
through the Father’s aid in this perilous time
may under heaven possess, and exalted happiness
in the celestial country may gain. (In Modern English translation )

Source:Thorpe, Benjamin; Corson, Hiram (1842). “Codex exoniensis. A collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry, from a manuscript in the library of the dean and chapter of Exeter”. p. 244.

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

In the various phases of one’s life, we have all our “phoenix” moments, to rise from the ashes of downfall. With the turn from winter to spring, nature teaches us time and again that hope will bear fruit as long as we aim to work for it. With the new crops planted in the last few weeks, one can hardly believe that few months ago it was the time of cold, dry and rainy days of the winters. As the season changes and time moves on, staying stuck lasts only as long as we allow it to be so. Like all plans and dreams that may be fulfilled or go astray; it’s the will to survive that beats the intermittent thunders and storms in one’s life as well as to dust ourselves from the ashes to start rebuilding.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

 

I will return as grass in spring,
I’ll try to reach you, germinating,
As buds reach forward to the green
When they are waiting to awaken.

To start the blossoming anew
One morning, secretly and shyly,
Already sparkling with the dew,
That dries away if sun is shining.

The sun arises every time
To warm the humid earth for seeding,
It reaches joyously your eyes
But I already do not see it.

It cannot raise my heavy eaves,
My closed eyelids, cannot force them.
And it’s ridiculous to grieve
For me as for a single person.

For I am grass and autumn leaves
That fly and fall to putrefaction,
But there is nothing new in these
Banal ideas and reflections.

It’s the eternal hope and dream –
To be, to stay, at least, as grass does,
To grow through the soil in spring
And join the life, the new one, lasting.

Gennady Shpalikov

 

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

Unexpected Rays of “Providence”

“Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.” C.S. Lewis

Unexpected occasions arise in one’s life at different points in their time frame. Yet while one mayn’t look for it, help often comes by His Grace.

Often unexpectedly, at a good hour, one may meet a person who disperses the clouds that have gathered in our soul, unwittingly resolving some of our personal problems.

” “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? “Its measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.” (Job 11:7-9)

Often it may be so that one happens to hear from another person a word that pleases them, or to say someone an encouraging word. Or suddenly one may receive a letter from someone, and precisely when it is necessary be it at a low point in one’s life or when one has been waiting for the “lost” opportunity for some time.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Often when one is deeply entangled in the circumstances life has thrown them into, when one is desperately trying to reason within their views and thinking, trying to get out of the hopeless situation; when suddenly something happens that radically changes the situation. Thus by inference unexpected meetings, kind words, cherished and promised letters and such situations as well as kind deeds towards oneself are all signs given to as reminders, lessons, admonitions, encouragement or as a call to remind one of the Grace of God and the gift of Providence.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Mathew 6:26)

Among the phrases handed down in the various cultures, there is a Chinese saying that all the darkness of the universe can not extinguish the smallest candle. It would do well to remember this during the dark phases of one’s life. When one knows and learns of this, the most ugly situations and the most terrible people may be viewed by different angles and seek out the spark of light. For Providence does indeed hold out the light, only it mayn’t be somewhere expected. When one believes in His Grace, Faith and Love; along the way one will find the rays that Providence throws offering the sparks and the rays to live.

“Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.” Samuel Adams

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Corrie ten Boom

“……and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…” (Acts 17:26)

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Hold the Condemnation

“What we don’t speak burns more than the spoken words especially when the actions, expressions and emotions radiate the sense of censure as the silent unspoken disapproval.”

If we ever sit down and reflect on the number of times we had condemned or felt extreme disapproval at the actions of others or towards the circumstances, the list would be formed for most of us. The tendency to condemn or sentence another is one of the most common follies and fallacies of man. If we look on the pages of the local town news or reflect on the “hearsay” at the office, communities, neighbourhood centers and even schools, the “good news” gets less attention when compared to the “bad”. Though it is indeed important to know both, a fact that stands true is that the more disreputable the news is, the faster it spreads and believed.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl Jung

 

One of the sad realities of the social order is that people are more engaged in passing the “bad news” rather than the good happenings especially of others. Unfortunately condemning anyone unless the entire picture is known will strike back at us, especially when we are at our worse. To not condemn anyone may seem simple when said, but to actually do it is quite difficult. At some point of time, each one of us would have been at the wrong end of the receiving line, sometimes at no fault of ours or we have been grossly wronged. In such situations, it seems easier to condemn and castigate the other. However one’s real character is reflected when we hold such thoughts, emotions and actions.

 

When the wrong has been done to us, instead of engaging in harsh words or negative behaviour, feel angry but don’t feed the anger. Then acknowledge that what has been done was wrong and just move on. The harsh words, gestures or behaviour may aid one in letting off some steam for the moment, but a little later the regret, guilt and ramifications set in. The more we engage in the act of condemnation, the guilt may not bother us; yet when the day back to us as a boomerang it may be too late for the remedial actions or reparative measures. Eventually if we try, we can learn and master the art of  avoiding condemnation. If we do so, one discovers life’s simple pleasures and good moments. Above all, we learn to move with the flow, treasuring the memories of happiness, kindness and simple joys.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 

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

Time, Change and Addresses

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France

Like all events that come to an eventual close, yesterday had marked the farewell of two colleagues at the workplace. While attending the meet, what came to mind was the fact that predictability and stability works only for a time. During my younger years, with both parents working, transfers and promotions went in hand with address change. Although as kids we had met many friends and been to many localities, there was always an underlying feeling in me that certain things can never be permanent or sure.

“People lose people, we lose things in our life as we’re constantly growing and changing. That’s what life is is change, and a lot of that is loss. It’s what you gain from that loss that makes life.” Thomas Jane

Change, development and growth go in tandem in life. People change, addresses change and routine alters, yet nature remains true to its’ unpredictability. As literature and history, unfolds the story of the great conqueror of their times, Alexander the Great, the truth that we come carrying nothing and we leave empty handed too holds true. But what we do leave behind, is the legacy of our work as footprints behind. Every man will disappear, but leaving those marks for the future to learn from them, is dependent on each individual alone. One always has the choice to change, either for the better or worse. The wiser we act, think and live; the happier, serene and at peace, we will be.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

Addresses Change

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

What in the very end remains?
Not idle talks or strained relations, –
– A mowed field, the vast of plains,
A forest road to a train station.

The path by empty villas winds,
The homes of wealth, prestige, renown.
An old dray-cart left us behind –
A guy was driving to the town.

And this is what, for sure, stays:
The river, white in the night haze,
It is bewitched and charmed by mist,
Adorned by a camp-fire shimmer
And beacons twinkling in the midst –
All for the safety of shipping.

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

Gennady Shpalikov

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” William Shakespeare

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

Choices, Expectations and Opportunities

“Applications are closed.”

The above sentence, seen across recruitment pages of websites, office circulars, school bulletins and so on; have caused numerous emotions, ranging from regret, anger, hopelessness, defeat, despair to feeling of unfairness, on the events that have taken place. Yet one constant reminder through all these circumstances is the irrevocable fact that time is always short and the windows or doors are left open only for a limited period of time.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” William Arthur Ward

 

Reflecting back on missed chances, the reason for the delay when examined seem inconsequential then but significant now. From the excuses of lack of time, failure to read the notice, busy schedules, lack of planning and the like; all these when compared to the chances lost lead to severe regret and mental anguish for a time.

“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.” Klaus Schwab

As history has taught us, every one gets their fair share of opportunities, but unless we keep our eyes, ears and minds open with hearts and will brave, we will never have the option to use them. “Fortune does favour the bold.” Not because they were lucky, but they were willing to change to give a try. Contrarily always flitting around in search of greener pastures, would cause us to miss the fruit that the first garden bore. As nature always teaches us, everything happens in His time as long as we take the Chance when offered, instead of whiling away in self comfort and idleness. If one chance is missed, learn from it and don’t lose out on the next.

“A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.” Earl Nightingale

 

The parable of “Not a Fulfilled Dream”

There lived a young man in the world. And he had a dream – to have a high-paying job, marry a beautiful woman and become famous throughout the world. Once in a frosty winter, a man was in a hurry for an interview at a well-known company.
Suddenly an elderly man fell right in front of him. The man looked at the fallen, the thought arose in his head that he was most likely drunk and did not give a hand. This helped not to be late for the scheduled meeting. But the interview was unsuccessful: the person was not taken to the desired position.
Somehow a man walked around the city on a summer evening. Noticing a troupe of street performers, he stopped to enjoy the spectacle. After the end of the action, applause rang out and people began to disperse. The young man also turned back, but someone timidly touched his shoulder. It was the main character of the play, the old woman-clown. She began to ask him about whether he liked the show, whether he was pleased with the actors. But the man did not want to lead the conversation and, disgustedly turned away, went home.
Once on a rainy evening, a man hurried home from a friend’s birthday. He was very tired, and thoughts of a fragrant bath and a cozy warm bed flashed through his head. Suddenly he heard someone muffled sobbing. This is a woman crying. She sat on a bench near the man’s house, without an umbrella. On noticing the young man, she turned to him for help. She had a family affliction. And she needed only a spiritual companion. The young man wondered, a bath and a bed appeared in front of his gaze, and he hurried into the porch.
This man had lived an unhappy life. And he died. Once in heaven, a man met his Guardian Angel. He said, “You know, I lived a very miserable and worthless life. I had three dreams, but nothing came true. It’s a pity.” “My friend,” the Guardian Angel replied, “I did everything to make all your dreams come true, but for this you only needed your hand, your eyes and your heart.”

– Do you remember a fallen man on a slippery winter road? I will now show you this picture … That person was the CEO of the company you wanted to get into. You waited dizzy career. All that is required of you is your hand.
– Do you remember the old clown who, after a street performance, came to you with questions? It was a young beauty actress who fell in love with you at first sight. You were waiting for a happy future, children, undying love. All that was required of you was your eyes.
– Do you remember the crying woman near your entrance? It was a rainy evening, and she was soaking wet from tears … It was a famous writer. She was experiencing a family crisis, and she really needed emotional support. If you helped her to warm up in her apartment, to warm herself with Soul thanks to your wise words of consolation, she would have written a book in which she would have told about this incident. The book would become known to the whole world, and you would become famous, because on the main page the author would indicate the name of the person who became the muse of this work. And all that was required of you then was your heart. You were inattentive, my friend.
The man sighed and walked along the lunar path into the star’s distance …
Listen to the world, it offers opportunities. One should not only ask for help, but also be able to accept the help and help others with dignity.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” Benjamin Franklin

 

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

At a Child’s Pace

“Let the child be the scriptwriter, the director and the actor in his own play.” Magda Gerber

Every morning, before going off to work, my toddler sees me off before going to his day care. As his centre is close to my work place, the daily morning walk is all of ten minutes only. Yet some days we both take almost thirty minutes to get there by foot; for then we walk at his pace. Walking at his pace involves, stopping to watch the traffic, examine the caterpillar crawling across, collecting the smooth round pebbles near the stream and bringing along the sturdy sticks to his daycare and back to home as well.

“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.”  Jess Lair

At times, the mothers’ pace in me comes to full force, with loud “Hurry up’s”, holding his hand and flying ahead, not stopping to look at the “distractions or landscape”. These situations are later compensated when we go homeward bound in the evening. The memories of “walking at a child’s pace” are beautiful.The warring thoughts in their mind, while attaining their “collectible treasures” of “funny shaped rocks”, watching the pigeons drink the water, seeing the frogs leaping across with various emotions flitting across their faces offer refreshing joy and peace to the adult mind. Leave them in the garden alone, with child safe measures and behold, its’ like watch fountains of joy and laughter explode like hot springs. Watching them ponder and examine what they see, the wonder of seeing the “big cars, JCB’s, buses” on the road (for the miniature toy ones are in their control) and their joy in the simple things of life are treasured moments.

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”  William Arthur Ward

Living with the speed of a child is never easy for us adults, but when we do, the joy of experiencing the little delights that life offers makes the “slowing down” all the more worth. Over the years, this valuable time is what helps not just our children to grow, but also help us adults to handle the bad days with these happy moments. For the “child’s‘ pace” teaches us to find time to notice the wonders’ of the skies, the smell of the earth and be surprised by the simple but beautiful things that life offers us.

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” Paulo Coelho

Posted in Food, Life, Quotes, Reflections

Slices of “Strawberry” Summer

“Happiness, I have grasped, is a destination, like strawberry fields. Once you find the way in, there you are, and you’ll never feel low again.” Rachel Simon

With the scent of summer still in the air, one wouldn’t miss the scent of wild strawberries in the fields. With lazy weekends beckoning a walk, it would be a perfect time for some family bonding as well as strawberry picking.

“You can pick wild strawberries with your eyes closed, locating them by smell, for they are two parts perfume to one part taste. An hour of searching might yield a handful if you’re lucky. Wild strawberries can’t be encouraged, nor can they be discouraged: They come to you unbidden and unearned. They appear, or do not, by the grace of the sun.” Hope Jahren

During this impromptu excursion, certain moments get engraved silently in the mind. The rapid passing of time, children growing up fast as well as hectic weeks leaving very less time to unwind, converse as well as simply relax; all highlight the significance in shutting down the media and heading back to nature.

“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” Pema Chodron

With plenty of fresh strawberries to go around, it would be fun to go artsy, creative and add some sweetness to the regular meals as well as desserts. Browsing through the old recipes and brushing them with some “taste of summer” would make the strawberries as well as moments and memories to capture for the later years.

“As our lives speed up more and more, so do our children’s. We forget and thus they forget that there is nothing more important than the present moment. We forget and thus they forget to relax, to find spiritual solitude, to let go of the past, to quiet ambition, to fully enjoy the eating of a strawberry, the scent of a rose, the touch of a hand on a cheek…” Michael Gurian

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder