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

Passbook Worth Fighting For

A WEDDING GIFT

She married him today. At the end of the wedding party, her mother gave her a newly opened bank savings passbook, with $1000 deposited in it. She told her, “My dear daughter, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your married life. Whenever something happy and memorable happens in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it’s about next to the amount. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I’ve done the first one for you today. Do the others with your husband. When you look back after many years, you will know how much happiness you’ve both shared.’

She shared this with him after getting home. Both of them thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to make the next deposit. This is what the passbook looked like after a while: 7 Feb: $100, his first birthday celebration after marriage
1 Mar: $300, she gets a salary raise
20 Mar: $200, vacation
15 Apr: $2000, She’s pregnant!
1 Jun: $1000, He gets the big promotion and so on…However, as the years went by, they began fighting and arguing over trivial things. They didn’t talk much. They regretted that they had married the most nasty person in the world. There was no more love. One day she talked to her Mother. ‘Mom, we can’t stand it anymore. We have decided to divorce. I can’t imagine how I decided to marry this guy!’
Her mother replied, ‘Sure, that’s no big deal. Just do whatever you want, if you really can’t stand it. But before that, do one thing remember the savings passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn’t keep any record of such a poor marriage.’ She agreed with her mother. So she went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account.

While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She left and went home. When she got home, she handed the passbook to her hubby and asked him to spend the money before getting divorced. So the next day, he went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account. While he was waiting, he took a look at the passbook record. He looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to him. His eyes were filled with tears. He left and went home. He gave the passbook back to her. She found a new deposit of $5000. And a line next to the record: ‘This is the day I realized how much I’ve loved you throughout all these years. How much happiness you’ve brought me.’ They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back into the safe.

Marriage is never a game, as there are no winners or losers. It is neither easy nor does it follow a strict code of unbending rules. Yet it is beautiful for the fact that two people live for each other with gentle understanding and kind love. As no two people will come from the same background or follow the exact same path from same homes, neither will one person think as a clone of the other, fights and arguments are inevitable. Even though we have our set of beliefs, opinion and requirements, it doesn’t give us the right to impose on the other under the pretext of being married. Both have to express their own ideas and air out opinions with both compromising to reach a mutually acceptable solution. For along with the shared interests, morals and love; it is the mutual respect and acceptance that binds us together and carry forward during the tough times as well as misunderstandings. Before we throw in the towel, give up and declare it over, think back to the good times and to what brought us together in the first place. If the knowledge and times are worth living again, the fight to save. If not and the distress outweighs the reasons and the love shared in the initial days, then finally close the chapters with mutual respect and start anew.

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Posted in Daily, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Reality of the Gingerbread Man

Ever since my toddler had got his own storybook about “The Gingerbread Man”, he has been fascinated by the large cookie that can run. Little wonder then that he chose to read this book more than thrice a day at different sittings.

The story centers around an old woman who baked a gingerbread man which leapt from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but are unable to catch him. The Gingerbread Man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them, only to fall prey to the fox. The tale ends with the latter catching and devouring the gingerbread man.

Although he is too young to understand the hidden concepts, sometimes I do wonder if this tale is an underhand way to get at adults for our possessive streak, trust issues as well as the habitual lying we either weave ourselves or get caught in.

Just as every person or animal runs after the gingerbread claiming it,the question arises if the person has a right to claim it. We often reinforce it to children that just because we want it, doesn’t mean that it is ours or that we can have it. Isn’t true for adults too where our whims and tendencies trigger the possessive streak many a time. Second is the trust issue. Like the spider and the fly, we often fall prey to trickery as we see want we want to see or hear what we want to interpret. Though for the innocent children it is more important to know who to trust an when to call for help; this lesson doesn’t change as we become adults. The world is an ocean, filled with delights and sharks. To experience the former, one has to steer clear of the latter. The third is about the lies. Black or grey or white, lies are lies and fibs are fibs. While sometimes we engage them with good intentions, the dangers of being caught makes one uneasy at any point of time. For a man without credibility and honesty is like an unreliable car or gadget.

Setting aside the story, there is something special about gingerbread, either shaped as a doll, cookies or even the houses. One chunk at a time, they not only add colour to the flavours but also add to fun times in the kitchen with delicious batter to sample.

Posted in Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Rekindle the Dying Embers

One of the prerequisites of camping in the woods (or even large backyards) or during nature nights is to start and maintain the fire. Once started, the flames keep the light coming and conversation going, as long as the flames are fed alongside. As the flames of the fire die down, unless the dying embers are stoked back the fire won’t serve it’s purpose.

Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated by fire and its’ effects. What sometimes we fail to realize, is that we all have a fire in ourselves too. Like the dying embers, we need to be stoked once in a while. The spark within us often fights to stay alive especially during personal tragedy or when the situations get beyond our control. Unless the sparks stays to restart the fire, the fight goes out from within. Some days, the struggling sparks are ours, other times they belong to the sparks of others who are going through a difficult patch. Those times, we need to set the spark with words of encouragement and courage as tinder and kindling to relight the flame again.

Like how Paige Hunter had rekindled the flame of many with her “notes of hope” attached to the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, England, the latter which is notorious for its suicides; we can bring back someones spark by kind words and gentle understanding. One doesn’t have to go far to look to do something, when it things are happening around them right under their nose. It might not take much effort from our part, but will make a huge difference for someone else. For even one dying spark, when revived will bring back the light and spread warmth in this cold world.

Posted in Christian, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Fickle Nature of Man

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” ( 1 Timothy 2:3,4)

One of the many stories of the Bible which is widely known is the tale of Jonah and how he was swallowed by the big fish. For those of us who haven’t heard of the story from the Bible, it says about Jonah (or Jonas) is a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC. He is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents to repent of their sins or face divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish where the boat was caught in a raging storm. He then orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard (to end the storm), whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of that generation to repent which was sufficient for God to spare the city at that time.

Although the feat of Jonah getting swallowed by the fish, surviving and being vomited out is remarkable; the chapters of the book stress on the fickleness of humans and the nature of God who keeps a watch over us.

The biblical principle underlined in the chapters was God’s willingness to grant repentance to whom He will. As Apostle Paul had written, “The Lord is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God offers His love to all, the rich and the poor, the believers and the atheists, the young and the old as the writings of the brutal Ninevites as well as prophets have shown. While it is true that the choice is ours to accept His Salvation and His Love, the patience of the Lord is never wavering. For some, there may be trials and tribulations, while others will enjoy their relative comfort. Yet the joy and gift of His Love is known to only those chose His Way and can’t be explained but only felt when one allows Him in their lives.

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

Leaving The Sandbox

A five year old girl was playing in the sandbox. Filled with a child’s unpretentious happiness, she found the simple play interesting and fun. Suddenly her mother runs up and pulls the girl out of her childhood idyll and with haste, carried her home away from the sandbox, her source of joy. Without explaining anything, the little girl was taken away from the sun warmed box of her freedom, changing the simple but happy hours of joy. Crying and not understanding what was happening, the little girl turned away from her mother screaming to go back into the sandbox. Why did the mother do it ? For from a distance, her mother had seen a huge dog broken free from its’ chains and rushing towards the sandbox. The mother knew of the imminent danger that her child was in from the hungry, ferocious and uncontrollable beast and ran to bring her child to safety.

While the child didn’t realize what has just happened, she trusts her mother to take care of. Likewise with her mother’s love and attention; she will slowly forget the bad moments, treasuring only the happy memories in the days and years to come. Deep inside her, she knows that her mother will keep a watch over her and step in wherever and whenever possible to save her from the other potential precarious situations.

Isn’t this situation similar when we find something snatched from our hands just as we were enjoying it ? Do we ever know why from time to time God takes you something that is so dear to us?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Like the caring mother God takes away from us what we take to be our sandbox like our favorite work, strong relationships, savings. Whether it is getting fired, losing a friend or suffering material loss, He takes away from us the feeling of comfort which we are so eager to hold onto. Although we may never know what is happening at that moment, in hindsight we come to realize that our life has changed for the better. For God does not always explain the essence of what is happening and its benefits for us. Yet we realize much later that the change was for our own good. Like the girl who was taken away from the sandbox for her safety, we have our whole lives ahead of us which may be unpredictable but happy if we keep our Faith steadfast in His Mighty Works.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

Posted in Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

When the Water Boils

Everyone has their own batch of problems popping all over the place. Some we solve whereas we sleep on others. While some of us emerge from it stronger, others succumb to it and few get buried under them. The challenge to living is trying to get past the neon signs which flash “trouble ahead”. Armed with a cavalier attitude and fortitude, most glitches can be fought down to reach the temporary goal posts we have set up.By maintaining our perspectives and perseverance, eventually all adversities can be overcome. For life in a flat plane would hold no discoveries or memories. It’s how we react to the boiling water that makes all the difference.

Although I don’t know the source of the story, read on to find which one we would be.

The carrot, the egg and the coffee bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. “Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Posted in Christian, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Reaching the Crossbar

Grace is one of the concepts of Christianity which is quite hard to comprehend in real life. In Western Christian theology, grace has often been defined, not as a substance of any kind which is created, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. In other words Grace is described as favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. It is understood to be a spontaneous gift from God to people “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life. In Eastern Christianity, the working of God completely, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity is what Grace is all about.

Although across the different denominations of Christianity, the definition varies the essential concept that it is not created but bestowed on. On reading the Bible we realize that although man has sinned, it is by His Love and His Mercy that we have been given a second chance. More importantly it is by His Grace that despite our lapses and our adherence to the shortcuts of living the right way, we are given another try.

While teaching the concepts of Christian principles to younger children, it is quite difficult to say in terms of definitions. So here is a story that I had seen through my social pages, (though it is translated into English) that gives us an idea about the concept of His Grace.

“Once after the second liturgy, I was drinking tea with a bun. Suddenly, a father came up to the table with a son of about five years old. The boy’s face didn’t seem bright to me. It seemed to be one of those children who are interested only in MARS and SNICKERS and how to get them from their parents. But suddenly the boy looked anxiously at his parent and asked: “Dad, tell me what grace is.”
Hearing this with surprise, I almost choked on tea, urgently stopped chewing and froze, so as not to miss a word. Let me explain why. First, I myself was not clear what grace is. Second, I was wondering how to explain this to another. And third, it was completely incomprehensible to me how to explain this to a five-year-old child. That’s why I froze waiting for to see what reply the dad will say. He twisted his eyes in a funny manner and said to his son: “I better not tell you, but I will show you what grace is.” And they went to our sports ground. And I followed them. “Jump to the high crossbar,” said the dad. It became clear to me that the boy would not jump to reach it in any way. And for sure as he jumped and he was convinced of this. “And now you jump, and I will add grace,” said the parent. The boy jumped, his father’s hands caught him and in a moment he … WAS STANDING on the crossbar. The boy squealed with delight and told the father that he did not agree to live without grace anymore. And me too. Thank God! – Yuri Klyagin”