Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Midsummer…Another Chance

“Oh, the summer night,
Has a smile of light,
And she sits on a sapphire throne.”
– Barry Cornwall

With midsummer this weekend, the knowing that summer is coming to a close is acknowledged deep inside. Change is always happening, either in small degrees or in mighty moves. All the same, it’s the aftermath and the consequences that highlight the events.

While Midsummer is celebrated as the longest day of the year as the Summer Solstice; it has a rich history of centuries old tradition especially in the Northern Hemisphere as a time for community based festivals and bonfires as well as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St. John the Baptist.

 

As the Christian community prepares to commemorate this day, neighbourhood and community as well as the Church prepares for the feast if St. John. The 4th century A.D. Christian Church had established this day, in honour of the birth of the Saint John the Baptist, which as recorded in the Gospel had been six months before the birth of Christ. Accordingly the Feast of Saint John (Saint John’s Day) was celebrated at midsummer, exactly sixth months before the nativity. additionally as St. John prepared the way before Christ, his words “He must increase, but I must decrease”( John 3:30) is symbolized by the fact that the “sun begins to diminish at the summer solstice and eventually increases at the winter solstice.”

Marked by varied traditions and celebrations around the globe like processions of ships down the Danube (Austria), quadrilha of Brazil, light great fires (Canada), maypole dances (Sweden for instance) to list a few; midsummer is marked by highlighting the life and plays on St. John the Baptist as well as celebrations of fireworks, bonfires and dances. The pre-Christian Era had seen similar celebrations, primarily as a pagan ritual as well as marking the end of the summer farming season.

“In summer, the song sings itself.” William Carlos Williams

 

Midsummer, this year brings to mind, the fact that six months will be soon gone by. Has the time passed been of “inner value or gain” for one’s betterment ? Has the time gone by, resulted in the growing of the True Path and His Way within; or are we still clamoring for material gains and worldly pleasures ? The answer is need for one’s self alone and not for the appeasement or gratification of others. Once we realize the truth, making the change soon would be better before the year comes to an end by it’s own time.

“Peacefully
The quiet stars came out, one after one;
The holy twilight fell upon the sea,
The summer day was done.”
– Celia Thaxter

 

“It is God in the house when the curtains lift gently at the windows, and a young child sucks his itching gums.
We do not understand the mysteries of God.
God the winter. Summer, Septembers.
Moody dark tones of fathers dying.
The splash and laughter.
Children playing.”
– Ellease Southerland

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

“Situational Awareness” From Within

“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (Philippians 1:9)

With the long weekend off from work and the longing to go somewhere new, the whole joint family, with grandparents, children and all of us “working adults” found ourselves onward to the nearest hill station for an impromptu getaway. While exploring the national parks, wildlife boat rides as well as the mini treks, the constant checking if everyone was there, paying attention to those around us as well as what was going on. Today on reflecting the events of the past few days, the realization of how we were all silently practising the art of “situational awareness” had come as a surprise. The sad truth is the time such that the world we live in; it isn’t safe anymore.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

 

The concept of “situational awareness” has been drilled into military, law and order as well as defense to be their second nature. Yet with changing times, the more we see or hear of the current scenarios, the gravity and need for “being awake and alert” with every situation from a very young age arises. the everyday life demands that the consideration of the complexity of people, relationships, bills, jobs and responsibilities. One needs to have an innate awareness of their surroundings no matter how engrossing the task at hand may be or whether one is in a hurry. Even if cellphones are at hand, earphones on or if one is prepared; unless one stays awake, alert and aware, things may go out of hand.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? ” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

 

Situational awareness doesn’t exist based on physical, social or emotional front alone, but also on a spiritual level. Going downhill may take only a few moments, the struggle lies in going upwards and in the right way. The honest, true and just way is never easy. To fall into traps, snares and temptations along the journey in life can happen in a single moment, yet the ramifications can be huge, irreversible and regrettable. Which is why constant renewal of faith through His Word is necessary in these times.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)

Prayer should echo the desire for increasing discernment with respect to the who, what, where and why of the situation. Going to the extreme of “being aware” would result in a load of worry, skepticism as well as unrest within. Instead seek His Word, His Wisdom and Guidance so as to remove the blinders from our eyes and see the complete picture around us. The best way of living would be when our lives springs from within with the awareness of God. Doing so would enable us to be “situationally aware” at all fronts of physical, social, emotional, mental as well as spiritual levels. Each one is given one life to live. While chances may be between few or many, it’s how we change situations or use them while being “alert and aware” is what matters the most. Just like time can never be reversed, life goes on always.

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” ( Proverbs 26:4)

 

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

The Spirit Within

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

In ancient Indian legend tells of a mouse that was afraid of cats until the wizard agreed to turn it into a cat. And it stopped being afraid of cats, until it met a dog. Then the wizard turned it into a dog. The mouse who was turned initially into a cat, then later as a dog, was pleased until it met the tiger. Then the wizard turned it into a tiger, the animal which it was afraid of. But when this “tiger” came to the wizard with complaints that it was afraid of the hunter, the wizard refused to help and said, “You will again become a mouse, because in your body, even as a tiger, the heart of the mouse still beats.”

“One who conquers fear cannot be conquered by anyone.” Matshona Dhliwayo

This legend often brings familiarity to many of us with similar emotions experienced at some point in our lives. There are days when one has to put on a courageous face, hiding the fear and insecurities within, in order to brave the world. Yet that is alright, as long as we shore up our inner courage by strengthening the spirit, mind and soul. Faith, hope and love are all required to maintain the courage within. In fact this is a continuous cycle, wherein which when one link is broken; it would be difficult to continue the journey without stopping to fix the “broken links”.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

For those among us, who brave on and face both insecurities and fear, by keeping the spirit of courage in our hearts; being a mouse or a tiger, one will still prevail. Yet when we refuse to address the spirit, but seek to pacify oneself under the guise of aggressiveness or personal appeasement by accumulation of wealth, social standing and the like; the spirit will stay on only for so long, before it breaks down. Security in the material world is always temporary. One was born with the mind, soul and body with hands open and empty; the going may be similar. What we can hold on to is our spirit and memories which keeps the days going fruitful in the short time that we have been allotted here, in this world.

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou

The courage to strengthen the spirit, brave the world, live our dreams and stay true to the right morale all depends on the mind, spirit and soul. In fact, courage is a function of what we are. While the external surroundings can momentarily support us; it’s the internal soul, the fortress of spirit that generates courage and keeps us at peace within. Nothing true in life happens overnight. This will all need time, patience and fortitude with the will to stay on His Path and the true conscience. His Grace and His Spirit strengthens us to do so, as long as we let them to work on us.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

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

Mosaic Aspects of the Golden Rule

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the greatest benefits and downfalls of the social order is, being subject to and as well as adding to the actions and behaviour that affects not just own but also others. Ranging from the work place to the general market, local stores, neighbourhood and community fronts or even on the routine commute; one comes across a number of situations where direct involvement or even being an indirect viewer; where one may object to an “n” number of things. Yet dealing with those situations should be done in a very tact, moralistic and delicate manner, learning not to impart offense but to be at peace aftermath.

“When a man is guided by the principles of reciprocity and consciousness, he is not far from the moral law. Whatever you don’t wish for yourself don’t do unto others.” Confucius

One of the Golden Rules of the Social Order often quoted in almost every religious and ancient philosophical writings of behavioural and social precepts like the New Testament, Talmud, Koran, the Analects of Confucius and many more; state that one should behave and act towards others as one would want it to be done to one’s self. To quote one of the earliest appearances in English is Earl Rivers’ translation of a saying of Socrates ( Dictes and Sayenges of the Philosophirs , 1477): “Do to other as thou wouldst they should do to thee, and do to none other but as thou wouldst be done to.”

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Mathew 7:12)

One of the commands based on words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, this Mosaic law holds a parallel commandment: “Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person.” Despite the universal saying of “What goes around, comes around”, at times the temptation to strike back is very high. Yet the effect, guilt, regrets and remorse aftermath is more min and conscience numbing. Instead holding back may be more internally satisfactory for one. Whether the behaviour we unto others may benefit us at a later stage or not, is irrelevant for by doing the right then, we will be so much more at peace within for a long time.

“The reason for our success is no secret. It comes down to one single principle that transcends time and geography, religion and culture. It’s the Golden Rule – the simple idea that if you treat people well, the way you would like to be treated, they will do the same.” Isadore Sharp

Two Neighbors

A wise and successful man bought a beautiful house with a huge orchard. But, not all were happy for him. An envious man lived in an old house next to him. He constantly tried to make his fellow neighbor’s stay in the beautiful house as miserable as possible. He threw garbage under his gate and made other nasty things. One fine day the wise man woke up in a good mood and went into the porch to notice buckets of garbage thrown there. The man took a bucket , cleaned his porch. He carried a bucket and went to knock his envious neighbor‘s door. The envious neighbor heard a knock at his door and gleefully thought, “ I finally got him!”. He answered his door ready to quarrel with his successful neighbor. However the wise man gave him a bucket of freshly picked apples saying, “The one who is rich in something, shares it with others.”

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Benjamin Disraeli

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

 

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 Christian, Life, Personal Musings, Reflections

Of Easter, Hope and New Beginnings

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25 )

Easter, known as Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, occurring on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.

For the practicing Christian, Easter symbolizes love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. It signifies the ultimate triumph against the inner conflict of sin, that man is always prone to. Easter also highlights the grace of God, the ultimate sacrifice of His Son as well as new beginnings through Christ.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Saint Augustine

Sacrifice is never easy. The modern day concept of love often mars the age old concept of “sacrifice”. Today the love is affirmed by open declarations and shows of splendour, lavishness, gifts and many more outlandish, expensive or exotic ways; all more or less involving materialism, wealth, money and riches. The old love of making a cup of tea for the better half, picking up cloths and socks off the floor to help reduce the chores, helping in the cooking, cleaning, washing and above all, making time to be just there at the most difficult, stressful times as well as lending an ear and hand, all involves “love” of the sacrificial type. To discern the true bonds of love among “better halves”, family and friends, is never easy but involves immense and mutual understanding, kindness, sacrifice, acceptance and forgiveness.

“Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice. And we do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face His task and to take up His Cross.” William Barclay

How more magnificent is the love and grace of God towards his creation, Man. Sacrificing His Son for the sins of man, even though He was innocent. Agape love or “selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love” describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.” As the Corinthian Love teaches us ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-8), love can indeed go a long way to bring humaneness back into the modern living.

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

The proof of Good over Evil, Right over the Wrong and Truth over Sin, is highlighted by the resurrection of Christ, marking Easter. The significance of Eternal Life is highlighted. Although man decries his own fellow beings with heresy, false accusations, biased notions and framed wrong doings; in the end truth will always be revealed, if not now then later. Through His Resurrection, the war against good and evil is highlighted; bringing second chances as well as hope to man.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:7-10

The underlying theme of Christian faith is echoed in Easter. Echoed through the concept of living sacrifice, as seen through Easter, the worldly lives don’t conform by the rules of the world, but by the laws of the Lord and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. True Faith involves love, hope, kindness, gentleness and above all, forgiveness for one’s own faults more than others. Easter symbolizes the hope of renewal, love of God, His Grace, His Mercy, His Forgiveness as redemption through Christ. The messages of Easter when echoed through the Christian Life year round, as well as one can, would make a small but huge difference to one’s own life as well as the lives around us. Most of all, one can be at peace within and live the given life on Earth to the tunes of own happiness, contentment as well as harmony.

“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” Basil Hume

 

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)