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 Christian, Daily, poetry, Reflections

Following His Path

” 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” ” (John 12:12-15)

With today being Palm Sunday, the next one week will take us through the journey of Lord Christ as he is crucified on the “basis of the sins” that he had committed, so that Man can be given a chance at salvation. For us Christians, it is a significant week which recounts the experience and final days that “The Lamb of God” had underwent.

Essentially Palm Sunday commemorates Lord Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, as mentioned in the four canonical Gospels. Today the service is marked by the procession of the faithful carrying palms which represents the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. In certain places, as it was difficult to procure palms, they were substituted with branches of native trees, including box, olive, willow, and yew. The Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday or by the general term of Branch Sunday.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.” ( Zechariah 9:9)

As per the Old Testament, the procession of Palm Sunday was earlier prophesied through the teachings and words of the Prophet Zechariah. The shout of “Hosanna” holds a significant meaning. The Hebrew word, “hoshi’a na,” when translated into Greek as “(h)osanna” and in English as “hosanna.” The original meaning of the word is “Save Please!”. It is a plea for help, understanding the potential impact of the scenario, the helplessness underwent and need for help to survive and live. Putting this into our spiritual lives, this security is in God. In the purest form, “Hosanna” is worship as we feel we have to come to the end of ourselves and we need God to intervene.

“25 LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25-26)

Reading through the scriptures, another meaning of Hosanna was as a proclamation of “Salvation! Thank you!”. Here “Hosanna” stands for gratitude to the Lord for His Grace, His Mercy and His Love. The liturgical and sermon songs of today as well as messages open with the words of “Hosanna” where it is used as a phrase of adoration, praise and worship. Thereby, “Hosanna” implies both a cry for His Help as well thanksgiving for His Blessings that He has bestowed on us.

If wounded by words,
There is no reason to be distressed.
You show love affairs
Forgetting about the status, rank.

If rudeness, quarrels, screams
Cause a duel
Do not prepare peaks for battle
No saint cartel.

If someone could not resist,
Released a verbal poison,
You, my friend, is right, since he did not break,
Did not send the poison back.

If the pain is unbearable,
If the word burns like thorns,
Remember, friend, you are God’s Son:
He was humble to death!

Be close to Christ in communion,
asking for the victory of your strength.
Let it be, friend,
Meekness is known to all your people!

Ermolova S.

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

To Just Stay

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou

One of the reasons’ why man needs his social surroundings be it family, friends or community is largely based on his ability to love and be loved. Here the aspect of love doesn’t focus solely on the relationship between two people, but between a network of people whose happiness are directly or indirectly influenced and dependent on the other. For “love” encompasses kindness, understanding, mutual respect, forgiveness and empathy.

“Love is a friendship set to music.” Joseph Campbell

One never realizes the intricate role that he or she may play in the life of the other. While it may seem trivial or a passing touch for one, it drastically change the life for the other. Learning to be gracious and kind is one of the facets of love. Love isn’t simply declared by showering of gifts, spending time with only those one knows or granting favours sometimes beyond one’s reach. Love also includes just being there and listening.

“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” Albert Ellis

While doing the preparatory lessons on the aspect of biblical love, I had read an encounter based on events in the hospital room of a retired service man. What struck my mind on reading “Love Stays” was the fact that “human love” for the fellow being goes beyond boundaries, imagination and guidelines set by man. Even though for one it may be trivial and require very little effort and time on their part, for the other it would be a life changing moment. Choosing to spend our time with love, kindness and empathy would go a long way, especially when one knows that life has a boomerang effect, when we least expect it.

“And now these three abide: faith, hope, love; but love is more of them.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Love Stays

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night, the young marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
Now and then, she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died. The marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked. The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered. “No, he wasn’t,” the marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”
The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay. 

Note: This is not a true story, but an incredible work of fiction written by Roy Popkin in 1964. It was published under the title “Night Watch” in the September 1965 edition of Reader’s Digest. Due to its highly emotional pull, the story has been re-circulated online since the 1990s under a variety of titles such as “Just Stay” and “He Needed a Son.”

“Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” Kallam Anji Reddy

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World, Work

Set the Glass Down

“Goodnight. Sleep tight.”

As we say these words to the young and dear ones, flashbacks of our younger days come to mind. If one remembers our childhood nights of bedtime stories and goodnight hugs; the nights today would have a feeling of uneasiness at times with night with “insomnia” or related like event, when the nights are spent in restlessness. Looking over the years, as we grow up sleepless nights became the trend. From blissful sleep of childhood, pulling an all-nighter with friends; then later on around the exams and finally in college to adult life; the trend of “staying up all night” transformed from being a trend to “the norm”. The thought that surfaces to mind is , “when was the last time we slept well?”

“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about these circumstances.” Andrew J. Bernstein

Analyzing the nights where we toss and turn the bed covers, not sleeping a wink would be reasons ranging from a newborn to sick child or pending work, spouse’s absence, health issues and the list is endless. While some of these reasons are not in our hands to control or fathom; others’ can be controlled by containing our thoughts and putting our trust into our Faith.

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” Hans Selye

Life has given us whole causes for sleepless nights. Yet in the face of the hurdles, once we learn to lighten the burden with reason, immense Faith and Hope; the world tomorrow mayn’t be so bad. Whether we drive ourselves crazy with worry or not, what will happen will happen. Is it worth losing our sleep on these things ?

“Stress and worry, they solve nothing. What they do is block creativity. You are not even able to think about the solutions. Every problem has a solution.” Susan L. Taylor

“Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical ‘glass half empty or glass half full’ question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, ‘How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?’
Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds. She replied, ‘From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.’

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, ‘Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.’”

“‘Sunrise Sunset’ is about trying to get to a place where life is simple and not letting the stress and happenings in the world get in the way of your happiness.” Benny Cassette

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

Plans, Eternity and Time

Time and Eternity

A man was taking it easy, lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God. “God”, he said, “how long is a million years?”
God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”
The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?”
God answered, “To Me, it’s a penny.”
The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?”
God said, “In a minute.”

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

The other day, as the family had gathered post Saturday weekend luncheon, among the various topics being discussed were the renovation of the family homestead, plans for the college admissions and the like. What surfaced to my mind, was the fragility of human plans.

“Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.” Ramona C. Carroll

Many a time, man has planned numerous events, for the present, the immediate and the distant future. Little do we realize that most of our planning is based on chance. We base the future on a sequence of events believed to happen in a particular manner. When one block is pulled out of the regular, things may still go as per plan. But pull out a couple of them, then most plans come crashing down.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

On the other hand, plans are needed to sort out our purpose and drive in life. Yet the whole procedure can be done, putting our Faith and dreams in God’s hand and above all, plan and know one’s limits.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Man needs to plan to grow and progress with time, else idleness and monotony would set in. Yet the lines have to be drawn at when, how, what and which plans to dream of and which not to. We need to dream big; but also realistic, kind, honest and true.

“God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.” Marcus Garvey

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

Proportioning the Ingredients

Life offers its’ own share of ups and downs. At certain phases we feel swamped by the “n” number of “downs” we may be going through. Yet little do we realize that what happens to us may not be in our hands to a certain extent, how we react to it is. And this makes all the difference in the world, of whether we would be able to bring the “downs” to “ups” or reverse the trend of “falls” to our benefit.

The boy complains to his grandmother about his bad life: about problems at school, with his parents, with health. And the grandmother at this time is preparing to eat. She asks her grandson if he is hungry, if she wants something to eat. “Of course,” the grandson replies.
Then the grandmother says:” Here, take the margarine. “
“Foo,” the grandson protests.
– Maybe two raw eggs? – offers grandmother.
– Well, granny!
“What about flour and soda?” – trying to grandmother.
“Granny,” her grandson reasoned, “All this is inedible.”
To which the grandmother responds, ” That’s right, individually, these products are not very tasty, but if they are properly combined, they will make an amazingly tasty cake!”

Likewise for all the sufferings, trials and tribulations; something will come out of it as long as we believe, trust, hope and have faith that things will turn out to be fine eventually. For by His recipe, in the end, something extraordinary will come out.