Monday, 20 December 2010
I came from an extremely poor family, and though my mother and father would do the very best they could, it never seemed to be the same as the other kids who lived in the same street. I almost wished I did not have a birthday. Then I would not have to tell people what I did not get. So, as Christmas draws near I found myself remembering those days. I also began to think of a story I used to tell to the children in my church, I hope I can remember it.
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin shoes he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.
He had been sitting thinking, and, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do
come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend.
Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.
What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence.
All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.
Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny pound coin.
Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a pound.
He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the pound and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his coin. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."
As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid.
Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.
"That will be one pound young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the coin. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his pound. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his pound! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for a pound for a dozen. Would you like them?"
This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."
As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?" Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.
When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and Iput together a dozen of my very best roses."
The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.
I am going to make every effort to visit some blogs if I do not manage due to circumstances please accept my apology and do have a great Christmas.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
I dragged through all the stories and information I have gathered wondering what to put on here at this time. Then I remembered the professor who was doing some research into what young people thought of love. Some of these make me smile and some of them make me think.
He asked a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers he got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8
When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4
"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6
"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4
Love is when my mum makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7
"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7
"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8
"My mum loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6
"Love is when Mum gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine -age 5
"Love is when Mum sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7
"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget," Jessica - age 8
A minister once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."
Monday, 13 December 2010
So, the automated age, is it not amazing? The personal touch is disappearing, I find that so sad. When I call my doctor, I am answered by a list of possible things I might want. it is always the case though that the one thing I do want, to see a doctor, is not on the list. The other day there I was trying to contact a service company. I was in a good mood as I lifted up the phone, ready to explain my problem to whomever answered the call. By the time I managed to reach a human being there were fumes coming out my nostrils, I felt like a raging bull. I had to bite my tongue so that my anger was not taken out on the poor girl who was only doing her job.
Now it is not all bad news. When I was in education, we all knew who the most important people were in the system. The janitors and the school secretaries; and not always in that order. I often thought an automated service might be better than have to get past them. They on the other hand, were always quick to tell us what a terrible job they had. They used to say they would rather do anything rather than face the calls of some parents. So here you are, a little belatedly, I apologise. I list of possible alternatives you might wish to have.
"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service for Aughenshoogle School. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:
- To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1
- To make excuses for why your child did not do his/her homework - Press 2
- To complain about what the staff here do - Press 3
- To simply swear at a staff members - Press 4
- To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5
- If you want us to take care of your child after school hours - Press 6
- If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7
- To request yet another teacher for your child - Press 8
- To complain that the school is not open early enough for work hours - Press 9
- To complain about school lunches - Press 0
- If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behaviour, class work, homework and that it's not all the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: - Hang up and have a nice day!
I spent yesterday in the crowds of shoppers trying to get Christmas shopping done. Why cant we just have little buttons for that also? Online does not work if the delivery people cannot get to you for snow. HELP.
Time for me to hang up I hope you have a nice day.
I have not updated my other blog today my apologies.
Friday, 10 December 2010
I have spent much time since starting this blog considering moments from my life. Yesterday I read the blog of a fellow blogger. He has been sharing his recent struggle with cancer and trying in the process to make sense of it all. I am not sure what it is but as I read so many blogs I find myself more and more asking myself what and why. What is it I hope to achieve in the time I have left on the planet? Also, I ask why it is I do the things I do.
I am no great wordsmith like so many of the blogs I read. I cannot express myself in verse like Angel Star. I could go on and on and list blog after blog that inspires me with the art they show or the words they write.
So I asked myself again, what and why? I do not for one minute think that this post today will be of any interest to you the reader, so I apologise. Today is a bit of self indulgence.
What I Long To Be.
I long to live as gently as I can,
Soft and worthy as a man
To face life daily good or bad,
To remember, for what it is I stand.
When failure comes as oft it does,
To take it by the hand.
To learn from moments such as these.
A better man to better please.
To never give to shame or sin.
That I may be at peace within.
To stand for what I know is right.
And never fear to face that fight.
To leave some simple things behind.
That those that follow, have me in their mind.
To be at one as each day comes.
With earth and water, wind and fire
To be the gentle man is my desire.
That some may look and consider me kind.
And give thanks for what I leave behind.
The artwork is discussed on my other blog. The Last Leaf Along The Beach
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Yesterday I received an email from a student. I remembered him very well, not only because his name was the same as my sons, but because of the relationship we had as teacher and student. He was having difficulties with learning, also with his body shape, being overweight. He and I hit it off, because I was aware of him and not his weight. Before I left teaching he was a great student and he worked out regularly and was always very popular with the girls in the school. He has never forgotten me and every year at this time he sends me an email telling me how he is doing and every year I have to go and sit on my own and dry my eyes.
When I started teaching I had found a story that touched my heart deeply. I am not sure if it changed my way of teaching, having been a minister I was always aware of people and not just what they looked like. Nevertheless the story is worthy of reading again, so I share today knowing some of you will have read it or heard it before. I apologise it is a long story but ask you please to take time to read even if you have heard it before.
Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant.
It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then marking the F at the top of the paper biggest of all. Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and put Teddy's off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh." "He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."
His second-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."
His third-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy continues to work hard but his mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem."
By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard.
Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.
Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to."
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy."
As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days where there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.
A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favourite. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.
He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favourite teacher of all time.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honours. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favourite teacher.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favourite teacher, but that now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like...well, just like the way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together
You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action.
I will leave my other blog for another day except I will change the artwork and speak of it.
A Moment of Togetherness
Monday, 6 December 2010
This snow is certainly bringing together a community in the street where I live. The ongoing battle to try and keep the hilly road to our homes open is binding us together. Small acts of kindness and a sense of one for all. A neighbour trying to go to the shop for vegetables to discover the shop had none, cheered by what I was able to give her from the produce of my plot. Yesterday I went to visit my old father in law taking with me what provisions we could get. While at the store I bought a haggis. As I left the store a representative of the company gave me a heated sample of the product and because I had purchased one gave me another free. My neighbour said it was delicious.
Today I awoke stiff and sore all over muscles aching. I opened the curtains to what? More snow covering the road and still falling fast. Seems we are not yet through this. My heart was heavy as I watched it fall.
It did though bring back to mind this story.
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they travelled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the walls of their family estate. The widowed elderly man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed their nation, and the young man left to serve his country.
After only a few short weeks, the elderly man received a telegram that his beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season-a season that he and his son had so looked forward to in the past-would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man.
As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. He opened the door and was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand.
The soldier introduced himself to the old man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you." As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man's son had told every one of his-and his father's-love of fine art work. "I'm also an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man began to unwrap the package, paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son.
Though the world would never consider it a work of genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the soldier, promising to
hang the portrait above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the
soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of paintings. And then the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man learned that his son
had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his
caring heart. As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach
him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief, as he
realized that, although his son was no longer with him, the boy's life
would live on because of those he had touched.
The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the priceless pieces for which museums around the world clamoured. He told his neighbours it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation, since, with the old man's passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the way he had received his greatest gift.
The day finally arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings.
Dreams could be fulfilled this day; greatness could be achieved as some could say," I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum list... It was the painting of the old man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent.
"Who will open the bidding with £100?" he asked. Moments passed as no one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and get on to the good ones." More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one-first," replied the auctioneer. "Now who will take the son?"
Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. "Will you take £10 for the
painting? That's all I have. "Will anyone go higher?" called the
After more silence he said, "Going once, going twice...Gone!" The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone shouted; "Now we can get on with it and bid on these treasures!"
The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Then someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a portrait of some old man's son! What about all of the other paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art work here.
We demand an explanation!"
The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all."
Leaving my other blog for one more day. I Remember (No More)
Friday, 3 December 2010
This reminded me of the true story of some years ago.
It happened late at night, at 11:30 pm, an older African-American woman was
standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing
rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her - generally unheard of in those conflict-filled
1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and
put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote
down his address, thanked him and drove away.
Seven or so days later there was a knock at the young mans door. Standing there when he answered was a delivery man, he had a giant colour television and music player addressed to him. Also attached was a letter addressed to him, it read:
Dear Mr. James
Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along, and because of you I was able to make it to my dying husbands bedside just before he passed away. God Bless you for helping me so unselfishly.
Mrs. Nat King Cole.
Yes ,I am aware that there are many who in the present climate are acting selfishly, but there are more than normal those who are becoming aware that we are indeed, “all in this together.”
I have left yesterdays other blog for a bit longer after the emails I recieved. I Remember (No More)
Thursday, 2 December 2010
I hope my footprints encourage others to make the journey rather than spoil it.
As I ran I remembered the beautiful story of the two pots.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?
That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But that does not mean that we cannot make the best of what we are.
In the great scheme of Chi nothing ever is wasted.
This blog is linked to my other. I Remember ( No More)
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
In the village the order of the day was snow clearing. Now I remember when I was younger it was the pavements that people cleared, throwing the snow to the edge of the road, leaving the central area for any cars that might be moving. Now the main aim of everybody is to get the car moving and the road clear. Snow was being piled high on pavements forcing anybody at all trying to walk to venture onto the road and take the risk of being hit by a skidding car. I even noticed some people throwing snow onto the pavements of older people who have no car, and may well want to get out for bread or milk. Then maybe I am being cynical but I suspect nobody has noticed that they might need out. Or maybe once they get the car moving they will go get the bread and milk. Now why do I not believe this?
If I like it, it's mine.
If it's in my hand, Its mine.
If I can take it from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, It's mine.
If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
If I am doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks like mine, it is mine.
If I saw it first, it's mine.
If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
If it's broken, it's yours.
Ah well I better get back to this watercolour I am trying to do. I hope nobody has seen my paints and think they belong to them.
Pictures above are of my walk yesterday and the view from my study window this morning.
Have a great day.
I have another blog at Cold Mornings.