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 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, poetry

A Star, Magi and a Baby

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”” (Mathew 2:1-2)

As the feast of Epiphany approaches with the first Sunday of the year comes by, the visit of the infant Christ by the Magi is being primarily celebrated. Also known as the Three Kings‘ Day or Little Christmas, this feast celebrates the manifestation of Christ. As the three kings visited infant Jesus and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

These three gifts had significant meaning with gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death, burial and healing purposes. These the three gifts signify the baby Christ as the King, God and Suffering Redeemer as well as highlight the natures of virtue, prayer and suffering.

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Mathew 2:10-12)

In the midst of the celebrations of the feast of Epiphany, one shouldn’t forget to understand the significance and meaning of the visit of the three wise men. Like the presents brought by the three magi, we should have the true presents for baby Christ. Presents that come from the heart, reflecting the true spirit of Christian behaviour and living. As the the three most important fruits of the Spirit go by love, joy and peace; bringing these gifts and sharing them would bring far deep happiness and contentment from within.

Though thousands of centuries will pass,
Oblivion will burry past dates,
But those stories live in the hearts
And they redeemed rich life!

One of them is the birth of the King!
No, not in the mansions, but in the barn of a wretched man.
A star in heaven, brighter than all grief,
All announced the arrival of God!

The Baby was lying in a small manger,
Shepherds hastily bowed before Him.
Replaced joy indefatigable fear!
Maria hugged the baby tenderly.

Christ has come! Left heaven …
Imagine this just for a moment!
Perhaps a tear flowed down his cheek,
when he made a firm decision …

Christ came so that the light would dispel darkness, to
embrace all with Father’s love, to
die for all people to Him,
and to redeem us all with pure blood!

Christ, the Savior, Jesus has come!
He was crucified … Risen !!! Now calls out:
“Leave the vice, take off your heavy load!”
He is the way and the life! And only He saves!

Christ is now not a baby in his arms,
As many depict Him.
Do not belittle the Lord in hearts!
Blessed are those who only glorify Him!

Christ has come! Many years have passed,
but He is the foundation for Christians!
And on this holiday, this Christmas,
We rejoice in this message again!

Ermolova S. (Source: vk.com)

 

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Christmas, Candy and Canes

What is the best to keep a crowd of noisy children quiet ? The best option would be to give a bag of sweets, preferably mints or hard boiled candies for then there would be snatches of quiet.

On similar lines as per folklore, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral ( Cologne, Germany 1670) wished to quieten the noise made by the children during the long Living Crèche ceremony of Christmas Eve at church. He asked the local candy maker for some “sugar sticks” and add a crook to the top of each stick. While the latter would have probably been meant to be symbolic of the shepherds visiting Infant Christ as well as to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services. With the white colour of converted sticks, children were taught about Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus.

Their popularity from Germany had spread to the rest of Europe, wherein these candy canes were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity. Another legend connects candy canes to the anniversary of the death of St. Nicholas (343 A.D.) with the candy cane representing the crozier or bishop’s staff of St. Nicholas. Though other legends may run through various locals, the candy cane especially the classical red and white one is synonymous with Christmastide. Records also mention of August Imgard (Wooster, Ohio, 1847) decorating a small pine tree with paper ornaments and candy canes.

With the similarity to the polkagris, candy canes are a part of Christmas tradition which stays on till New Year. From the simple red and white ones to the more coloured and striped ones, with various flavours of peppermints to spicy or salty variants, candy canes keep the confectioners busy for the end of the year season. Intermixing the essence of candy cane into varied desserts, from cookies to truffles or cupcakes, experimentation with candy cane is an experience in itself. With the smells of candy canes and Christmas time, the golden yesteryear of childhood still stay fresh in the mind. For that is what happy memories are all about.

Posted in Christian, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World

Twelve Days On

“For Christmas is tradition time—
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.”
Helen Lowrie Marshall

With the Christmas bells still ringing on, the festive feeling still runs on. With all the family gathered at the homestead yesterday, the laughter, food and music were in the air. To pass the time before the dinner, the carol game of recall and forfeit was played (more of a family Christmas tradition) among the teens and the adults in the group.

Interestingly, one of the most popular Christmas carols, “The Twelve of Christmas” was believed to have originated as a children’s memory and forfeit game. As per the song, the twelve days start with Christmas Day or the day after Christmas (Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day, the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr) to the day before Epiphany or the Feast of the Epiphany (6 January, the Twelfth Day). The eve of the Epiphany is formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking”. Epiphany formerly celebrates the revelation of the God prophesy of Christ. Historical evidence and records point to the North of England, specifically the area around Newcastle upon Tyne, as the origin of the carol somewhere around the early 18th century (approx.1714) onward.

“This piece is found on broadsides printed at Newcastle at various periods during the last hundred and fifty years. On one of these sheets, nearly a century old, it is entitled “An Old English Carol,” but it can scarcely be said to fall within that description of composition, being rather fitted for use in playing the game of “Forfeits,” to which purpose it was commonly applied in the metropolis upwards of forty years since. The practice was for one person in the company to recite the first three lines; a second, the four following; and so on; the person who failed in repeating her portion correctly being subjected to some trifling forfeit.”
Husk, 1864 ( Cecil J. Sharp, A. G. Gilchrist and Lucy E. Broadwood, “Forfeit Songs; Cumulative Songs; Songs of Marvels and of Magical Animals,” Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 5, No. 20 (November 1916), p. 280.)

Another reference to the popular Christmas carol can be traced as a Christmastime game played before supper. As written by Lady Gomme (1898), “The Twelve Days” was a Christmas game. It was a customary thing in a friend’s house to play “The Twelve Days,” or “My Lady’s Lap Dog,” every Twelfth Day night. The party was usually a mixed gathering of juveniles and adults, mostly relatives, and before supper — that is, before eating mince pies and twelfth cake — this game and the cushion dance were played, and the forfeits consequent upon them always cried. The company were all seated round the room. The leader of the game commenced by saying the first line. […] The lines for the “first day” of Christmas was said by each of the company in turn ; then the first “day” was repeated, with the addition of the “second” by the leader, and then this was said all round the circle in turn. This was continued until the lines for the “twelve days” were said by every player. For every mistake a forfeit — a small article belonging to the person — had to be given up. These forfeits were afterwards “cried” in the usual way, and were not returned to the owner until they had been redeemed by the penalty inflicted being performed.”

As this song evolved as an English Christmas carol as a catechism song for young Catholics, along with the surface meaning, each element in the carol has a link to the Christian faith (although this aspect is highly debatable). As children sang these songs, they could remember the background and principles behind the Christian teachings. Starting with the “True Love” one hears in the song is referenced to baby Christ because truly Love was born on Christmas Day. The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators. The two turtle doves signify the Old and New Testaments while the three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love. As the four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.

For the words “six geese a-laying” signify the six days of creation. The “Seven swans a-swimming” represented the seven fold gifts of the Holy Spirit—–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy while the eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes. The “Nine ladies dancing” were the remaining nine fruits of the Holy Spirit which are charity, joy, peace, patience (forebearance), goodness (kindness), mildness, fidelity, modesty and chastity. As remaining of “ten lords a-leaping”, “eleven pipers piping” and the “twelve drummers drumming” symbolize the Ten Commandments, eleven faithful Apostles and the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed respectively. Although this interpretation is highly debatable, it highlights the fact that there is always a meaning behind each word. 

All in all, these few carols when sung in full swing or even played as a Christmas time game, bring all of us closer in the spirit of love, joy and kindness. For the real Christian faith goes beyond the surface, carrying His Teachings and the principles that guide us through the good times as well as the tough days.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

[Verse 1]
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree

[Verse 2]
On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree ………

[Verse 12]
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love sent to me
12 drummers drumming
11 pipers piping
10 lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree

Note: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” known today was the arrangement as popularized by Frederic Austin (1909). Original source for the history behind the song : Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, Nebraska

Posted in Christian, Daily, Photography Art, poetry

Glow of Peace

In the wee morning hours, as the church service had come to a close, the rays of dawn had lighted up the chapel hall. The colours of dawn through the glass stained windows had brought a sense of peace within. Through the stillness of winter, those rays bring colour, hope and joy to the gray and dark times.

One of the best parts about His Grace is handing over our troubles of life in His Hands. There is nothing as fulfilling as being blessed with the feeling of quietness and harmony within the soul. Leaving all the mundane worries, trifling matters and sorrows in His Hand, the soul is rested and comforted. Such is due to the blessing being bestowed on man on the blessed day of Christmas.

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79)

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
— Maya Angelou
(Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem)

Posted in Christian, Personal Musings, Random Thoughts

Tune of the Fesitivity

“I love the Christmas-tide, and yet,
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!”
Carolyn Wells

As the hours of Christmas Eve ticked by, the flurry of activity never ceased as the last minute preparations were underway. Ranging from rearranging the set of cookies and assortment to be given to the church, wrapping up the gifts for the children, getting the early preparations for the Christmas lunch tomorrow as well as keeping the house open for last minute carol singers and guests, the list of things to get into order was endless.

Through all these hours, the willingness to help and share the joy was what kept all our spirits high. And that is what forms the basis of the spirit of Christmas. Not in how much one can receive, but one can give.

“God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.” Pope Francis

Each of us have our share from the “Season of Giving”. For that is what makes up the core of Christmas and the miracles of this season. Giving can vary in many forms. From the materialistic gifts of clothing for the orphanages, gifts to those in the poorer sections of society, spending time at the old age homes, bringing cheer to the patients admitted in the local hospitals, nursing homes or the shelters and the list goes on. The essence of Christmas lies in the spirit of giving.

Through the last hours before Christmas, spreading the cheer starts from within. By the actions we do, the expressions and the vibes we carry. Being human, there may be sparks of negativism or frustration that rise every now and then. Yet learning to quell them down with the joys of sharing the spirit of kindness, love, hope and warmth through the gift of giving would carry more happiness and peace within. In addition to the decor and gaiety of Christmas season, it is the cheer one spread and miracles that happen due to goodwill and humaneness that light up the season in it’s true meaning.

“Oh sweet December,
You bring us Charlie Brown, chestnuts and candy canes,
You add such sweetness to your name
You bring us garland, gingerbread and mistletoe,
You also bring us everything wrapped in a bow
Oh sweet December-you’re so good to us,
You always prepare us for The Christmas fuss”
Charmaine J Forde