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

Navigate From Within

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” Jawaharlal Nehru

One of the advantages of chance meetings with old friends, colleagues or neighbours when one has time on their hands, is the quick catch up session followed by exchange of news as well contact details. In that short time, information is passed about common acquaintances who have moved on, made changes or are still there. For those who have done better, we often compare ourselves to them. For those who have done worse, we acknowledge that their life has taken a different turn and at times, blame fate. What we almost always fail to realize is that, commenting about others progress (whether one wants to or not) never really makes a difference, for each holds their own destiny in their hand.

“Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny.” Kin Hubbard

Destiny, has been one of the concepts that man prefers to fall back on, when things never go the way planned. Post any setback, the reactions range from blame those around one to the sequence of events, circumstances and so on and so forth; everything but the person alone. The drawback of such a cycle, is that, once started it is difficult to break it. Moreover, the tendency to always indulge in the cycle of acts persists.

“Everywhere man blames nature and fate, yet his fate is mostly but the echo of his character and passions, his mistakes and weaknesses.” Democritus

Another way that man deals with setbacks is to hire “services” that offer to point out the right time as per mathematical, astrological, zodiac or other elemental methods of calculation. Little does one realize, that plans, setbacks, success and failure all lies within one person, their reaction to sequence of events in relation to their plans, dreams and hopes in life. Destiny, success, hard work, plans, hope and achievement all starts within. One decides wisely for oneself; knowing their own limitations, merits and lapses.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

To face destiny and achieve success requires one to introspective, willing to learn and observe from own as well as others’ lives. By blinding the eyes of the mind, the path taken will always be wrought with weeds of trouble, failures and uncertainties. To stay strong, one has to believe that they can navigate, as long as one knows how, where and what to look for. Man always has the discernment to make plans and tune destiny to work in one’s favour, provided one always believes in themselves, knows oneself with flaws, strength and all.

“If we would see the color of our future, we must look for it in our present; if we would gaze on the star of our destiny, we must look for it in our hearts.”
Canon Farra

The Warrior’s Destiny

A great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga was going to war with a fierce enemy with only one-tenth the number of men the opposition commanded. He knew that he could win the fight with a well planned strategy, but his soldiers were in doubt. On the way the leader stopped at a Shinto shrine and told his men: “After my visit to the shrine I will toss a coin. If the head comes, we will win; if tails, we will lose. Destiny holds us in her hand.” Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered his prayers. Then he came forth and tossed a coin in front of his men. Heads appeared. The soldiers were filled with confident and were eager to win the battle.
“No one can change the hand of destiny,” one of his attendants told him after the battle.
“Indeed not,” said Nobunaga and showed the coin which was doubled with heads on the both side.

“ Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

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

Of Request and Trust

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ( Phillipians 4:6)

From the very early years of childhood, the concept of prayer has been taught, explained and seen. Through the Scriptures, prayer has been a form of request, supplication, thanksgiving, forgiveness, help and many more. Prayer is the way in which one puts their complete trust and faith in His Love, His Guidance, His Mercy as well as ask for His Hands to be over us at all times.

“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” (Psalm 22:19)

 

Yet man being man, the innate nature of trying to control every outcome to his own plan and purpose, little realizing or often forgetting that we ourselves are a part of His Plan. In fact, our lives are such that whichever way we go or whatever purpose or aim we try to reach, unless it is governed by His Will, all attempts or successes are in vain and in the long run, come to naught.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16)

While man tries to define everything by rational thinking, controlling of the causes and nurture by evidence based principles, put on the armour of reasoning, facts, logic and proved theories; not all things happen by those clauses. Many a time, one is forced to revise the “proved” of find a reason to define the change. In stead, when one learns to combine these facts, logic and realism with faith in the His Will, one eventually realizes that good things do happen at His right time. Doing so, in the long run, the final outcome may be beyond our wildest expectations. One needs to work and pray, doing their own share of effort, burning one’s own energy and sweat for their purpose or aims in life; but always request in prayer to let our will be in accordance with His Will and His Purpose. When one starts putting this ideology in practice, one discovers that this path will be difficult. For to live by the principles of both Faith and Trust is never easy; yet the final fruit goes beyond one’s own imagination.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” (Psalms 18:32)

 

One monk planted an olive tree and began to pray: “Lord, send rain to my tree.” And the Lord sent rain upon the earth. The tree was saturated with moisture, and the monk continued to pray: “And now, Lord, I ask you to send a lot of sunshine – my tree needs warmth.” And the Lord sent the sun. The tree grew. The monk continued to pray for him: “Lord, send a little frost to strengthen the roots and branches.” The Lord sent a frost and …. the tree died. The monk was very upset. He went to another monk to tell his story and share sorrow.

“I also have an olive tree, look,” another monk replied. His tree has grown beautifully. “But I prayed differently. I told God that He is the Creator of this tree and knows better what is needed for him. I just asked God to take care of him.”
This also applies to us. We often ask for what we think we need. But only the Lord knows what we need. Trust Him completely!
– Rus Svyataya

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” ( 1 Peter 4:11)

 

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 Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry

Writing on the Asphalt

“Even your past pain can be a blessing to someone. Hope-lifters are willing to reach back and pass hope on.” Kathe Wunnenberg

One of the perks of waiting in the city traffic, is that there are an endless sightings to view. From observing the roadside shops, their wares or whether they are new or already around, and doing a little bit of “window shopping” to noticing the passersby that walk on the sidewalks and reading the graffiti and artwork on the walls; these are the few things that keep the Thoughts, mind and eyes occupied during the traffic wait in the city as compared to the highway.

Yet what catches the eye and leaves an impression is the graffiti on the walls. Form the local city news to artwork defining the city or the town, to words of famous sayings; these have words that linger on in the mind imparting and affecting the mood of the day subtly. While walking on the sidewalk especially when the parking spot is a considerable distance away from the final destination, the writing on the sidewalk as well on the walls of the various buildings on the street; trigger old memories, feelings of nostalgia either of the fortunate or unfortunate events that we hold on to in our minds, giving a sense of thankfulness for the unasked or asked blessings given to us at the low points in our lives.

All these words reflect the emotions of many and each word read with thought or subconsciously leaves an impact. While graffiti is usually frowned on, beautiful sayings leaving the sense of hope, kindness and love are needed to remind oneself of the distance we have journeyed, the struggles we had underwent and the unaccounted and saving graces that we have all been blessed with. Each one has indeed their own baggage, but by giving hope we not only lighten the burden of others’ but also learn how to carry and deal with our baggage better. For the light of one candle never loses out by sharing its’ flame with others, they all die depending on their length of time.

“Even one’s yesterdays could not continue to stir and move in a man’s mind unless there were a future for those yesterdays to make.” Mary Ellen Chase

“Everything will be fine! I recognized! ”-
The inscription on the pavement chalked.
I stood for a long time in affection
And I admit, I did not want to leave.

Who wrote and for whom – I do not know,
But these lines have warmed my soul,
Like forget-me-nots in mid-May,
Like white snowdrops of April.

A simple and short phrase,
At first glance – so wise,
But how much optimism gives at once,
And lights up joyful smiles!

Everything will be fine? Of course it will be!
And I want to believe it boldly!
It’s great to give hope to people,
Even if it’s just on chalk on asphalt …

Natalya Smirnova

“Hope is not easily defined, but impossible to embrace without faith. The more we search for meaning in what seems hopeless; we realize that our “hopelessness” is a state of mind, not a reality.” Carol Bright

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, 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.