Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Reflections

Gentleness through Time

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” – Francis de Sales

From time to time we meet gentle people. One of the attributes that is lost in today’s world is gentleness laced with tenderness. This virtue is rather difficult to meet in a society that admires rudeness and strength. We are encouraged to achieve goals and as quickly as possible, even if we disregard the honest approach and use shortcuts, suffering in the process. Consequently for the value of success, achievement and performance; the price we pay is too high. For to excel in such an environment, there is no room for tenderness. The gentle one echoes the words of Mathew 12:20 which says “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.” Francis de Sales

A gentle person is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of other people, enjoys being together which is as important as accomplishing anything. A gentle person walks with ease, looks with affection, touches with reverence and knows that true growth requires care with quiet inner strength. In our rough and sometimes inflexible world, tenderness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God.

“Let us seek the grace of a cheerful heart, an even temper, sweetness, gentleness, and brightness of mind, as walking in His light, and by His grace. Let us pray to Him to give us the spirit of ever-abundant, ever springing love, which overpowers and sweeps away the vexations of life by its own richness and strength, and which, above all things, unites us to Him who is the fountain and the centre of all mercy, loving-kindness, and joy.” – John Henry Newman

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Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Random Thoughts

Through the Toil

“Don’t worry. It will all be alright.”

Very often, we come across these words but though these words are precious their impact varies from person to person, from time to time and situation to situation.

For those of us who hear them, the degree of belief oscillates from disregarding these words to acknowledging them in our heart or simply pass through the words realizing that this is what everyone will say. For those of us who often speak these words, they are said when we may be at a loss of what to say or can truly mean what we have gone through. When it comes from the latter, it genuinely strikes a chord to the person who hears it.

Whichever way or what ever context these words come into play, the fact remains that these words will not change the present situation but can offer a semblance of hope that time will pass through these troubles and we too shall pass this phase. As Charlie Chaplin had once said, “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20)

We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. Barbara De Angelis

The world when it is turned upside down, is like a niggling wound. We can’t turn away from trouble and nothing will change when we run away, besides getting a temporary respite. Trouble can only be passed through and one has to cross the waters either at that point of time or later.

To quote Angelina Jolie , “I do believe in the old saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity.”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Instead, what we can do is glean hope from others and the Word of God as we travel through the storms and tempest. While we wish courage to all who have trouble, I wish compassion for all those who had trouble and passed. She was with you so that you would not forget about her and feel sorry for those who are today in what you once were and wept.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

Refresh from Tiredness

There are some days when we get exhausted, not just physically but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Yet when we try to relax, it doesn’t happen. The question then arises what are we tired of. The truth is we are just tired of ourselves.

We are exhausted by our experiences as well as expectations, fears, speculation and anxiety.

We are drained from our feelings of guilt and trying to control everything.

We get spent by trying to model situations, by trying to achieve the impossibility of predicting every twist and turn, every reaction and getting ahead of time to control every minute detail.

We get worn out by looking back at every instance for any analogue and cliches.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

The easiest way to tackle this is pretty simple but the most difficult to achieve. The way out is to stop comparing, stop scaring ourselves, not building illusions, do not think for others and stop the constant drivel and dialogues in our own head. When in the state of being bombarded by the baloney of thoughts, let go and realize that neither did we create ourselves nor can we attempt to. Just like the first man was created by God or even if the atheists say, it was a lot of sciences and chances, the very same God (or chances as they believe) will take care of all the rest. So breathe, live and rest.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Photography Art

Flexible through the Winds

In the areas where the winds are mighty, the tall palm trees often grace the landscape. Though there are hardly any oaks or similar tall stately trees to be found around. The strength and beauty of the tall palm trees to survive through the huge storms or strong gusts of wind lies in their ability to be strong and flexible. They sway with the wind, bending almost down to the ground at times and that ability allows them to survive the forces of nature.

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. Tony Robbins

The Word of God teaches us to be resilient and pliant when we face the powerful winds that are part of life. When we put our complete faith and trust in His Word, we would be able to adapt to anything that comes our way. As the destructive forces and thoughts push us; lean to adapt keeping our principles and Faith strong so that we can be flexible to plan our sway according to the Lord’s Will. In fact, in doing so we learn to use the force of the winds to make us even stronger and sheltered under the Lord’s wings.

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucius

Have you ever observed children as they learn new things ? They don’t have any fixed notion or ideologies. They listen to what is told, the first words and sounds they say are what they hear when we as adults say them. When a child begins to learn to write and does not know what is expected of him, their hands are completely flexible and obediently controlled by the hand of their parents and teachers mother; as soon as they imagine what they understood and comprehend, tries to “help”, everything goes at random: that’s what I mean when saying that the power of God is accomplished in weakness.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family. Virginia Satir

Like the sails of the ship, the wind can fill it so that it will carry the whole ship – just because the sail is flexible; if instead of a sail you put a solid board, then nothing will come out. One of the many things that God constantly tries to teach us instead of the imaginary, insignificant and anarchic “strength” that we hold to is fragility, flexibility, complete surrender to God.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.’ James 4:13-17

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Drowned by Expectations

When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on. LL Cool J

Life is known for its’ curve balls, treacherous routes and sudden rides. When we start our journey, we were given a blank slate. Over the years, with the lessons that we have learnt, instances that we have witnessed and experiences that we have gone through, we start filling in the spaces. Somewhere along the way, when we use the colour of expectations too much, we discover the fallacy too late. For every adversity has its’ own way in and way out, but the path clears when we remove our blinders, lower our expectations and use our common sense to put our faith, trust and intelligence to good use. Although the “drowning man” had blind faith, if we are unable to discern that “His Grace and His Faith” can also show us the path at the right time when we look for it, then we need to cement our Faith with insight and common sense. Else this will cost us our blessings from His Grace, His Love and His Mercy.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?” (Various versions of this parable can be read online and has been quoted in different works like Beck, Joko; Smith, Steve (1989). Everyday Zen: Love and Work.)

“However desperate the situation and circumstances, don’t despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness.” Sun Tzu

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

Jump With Faith

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ( Luke 12:25-26 (NIV))

When we always enter unknown territory, from being simply new at the workplace gatherings to high school reunions or settling into a new town to relocating to a new profession or hearing bad news in the hospital; the feeling of wariness transcends in all of us. In those times, there is nothing more comforting than having someone familiar or something familiar to lean on to. The pillar of support can range from family, friends, our church or community to our memories of good times, our old comfort blanket or even our treasured memorabilia. Yet what we often fail to realize is that the strongest comfort comes from none other than Our Father in Heaven. The gentle calmness in the restless mind, the sudden peace that flows through us, the strength to brave the new day and the hope of the new dawn are what we get when we read and understand His Word. Through centuries, the Word of God has withstood the test of time. Yet of all the things fickle in this world, His Word will never change like the weather nor will His Hope ever leave us when we put our entire trust and faith in Him.

“..But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

One day late in the evening a fire broke out in one of the houses. The whole family – the father, mother and children, shocked by what was happening, ran out into the street and watched the fire flare up. And suddenly everyone understood that among them there is no youngest member of the family – a five-year-old son. Most likely, he, frightened by the flame and smoke, instead of going down, climbed the stairs to the very top. One could not even dream of finding him. Suddenly, a window opened and a child’s distorted face appeared in it. In desperation, the father shouted: “Jump!” The kid, seeing only smoke and flames in front of him, shouted, “Dad, I can’t see you!” His father replied, “But I see you, do not be afraid, jump now!”
The boy, having gathered his courage, jumped and found himself right in the arms of his father. It is this faith that God expects from us!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Like the times when we cast our hope on our firefighters, emergency personnel and technicians, when the going gets tough and shoulders are overburdened; the sooner we cast our cares on to His Shoulders, the lesser will we be troubled and the lesser the hardships will seem For just as the song goes, “our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, With wisdom, power, and love, Our God is an awesome God”, so will we be able to face what life throws at us.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” ( 1 Peter 5:7-10)

Posted in Christian, poetry, Stories Around the World

On Christmas Eve

“… 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 2:2)

As written in the Gospel of Matthew, a mysterious star had appeared over the place where Christ was born in Bethlehem on the first Christmas, there by leading the wise men (the Magi) to find the baby Jesus and visit him. While many have debated about what the Star of Bethlehem really was; some believing it to be a fable or a North Star, planets, comets and the like. Also some astronomers believe that evidence proves it to be a “nova star” originating at that time and at that point. Either way, the star proves as a guiding light not only to find the baby Christ but also as a reminder that His Birth will bring us light in the gloomy depths of the World. As said in the scriptures, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

On Christmas Eve as we remember, narrate and read about the birth of the Lord, knowing that God’s gift has to be lived and shared will help us live the gift of Life as well as the blessings He has bestowed on us.

“God’s Gift” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

An angel-child on Christmas Eve
Did God send to the world.
“As you walk among the pines,”
He said and then he smiled,
“Do cut a tree and, in my name,
Do give it to the kindest
And the sweetest child on earth.”
The angel-child was puzzled deep:
“Whom shall I give it to?
How shall I know which of the babes
Has earned the prize of our Lord’s grace?”
“You’ll know,” was all God said,
And the Heavenly Host did part.
The moon stood high and lit the road
That led into the city.
The air was full of happy song,
Joy awaited every child…
So with the tree upon his back
The cheerful angel boldly strode.
Now, take a look in every window:
What cheer in every room!
Christmas trees all burning bright
As they do on Yuletide night.
The angel now began to rush
And made his way from home to home,
So as to find that special one
Who would receive God’s gift.
And everywhere he looked, he saw
Such fine and mindful girls and boys.
But each, on seeing the Christmas tree,
Forgot their manners and their poise.
Some said, “That tree’s for me!”
Some answered, shameless as could be:
“You aren’t worth half a tree,
I’m better than you, you see!”
“Oh, no, I say, that is my tree
You are not half as good as me!”
The angel listened quietly
And looked upon them sadly.
Every one was full of boasts
And each did praise himself the most.
Their eyes did squint with envy,
Their gazes — black with fear.
The angel ran onto the street,
And heaved a sigh, “Oh, Lord, my dear!
Do tell me which of them deserves
Your kind and precious gift!”
Then on the street our angel met
A tiny boy, at best knee-high.
He stared right at that green pine tree
His face did glow and shine.
“A tree, a tree!” he clapped his hands,
“Oh, what a shame I don’t deserve
This gift — it’s not for me…
But won’t you take it to my sis,
Who lies at home in bed so sick?
It would make her happy! Yes!
No one deserves it more than she!
She earned it with the tears she shed!”
The boy then poked the angel-child
And the angel-child did smile
And gave the boy that Christmas tree.
And then, as if by miracle,
The stars fell from the sky,
And sparkling like green emeralds
They encircled that Christmas pine.
It shimmered, twinkled, winked and gleamed,
For it wore the mark of grace Divine
That little boy stood struck amazed
And trembled in his rapture…
The angel witnessed that boy’s love
And tears streamed down his face.
And the angel brought to God that news
That was the greatest grace.

(Translated/adapted by John Freedman)