Sunday, 21 January 2018

Trust in Me.

If there is anything My wife Irene does not like, this must rate fairly high on her list. One of the longer walks that we do involves crossing two such stiles. The walk I sure seem so much more pleasant ones these two are out of the way. One of the two does rock a bit as you climb it, here in Scotland we would call it shoogly, one of the legs on one side is shorter than all of the other three. This makes for a rather awkward crossing if you do not like such things. 

In weather, like we have been having ice on the wood steps does not help either. Another walking friend wrongly thought they were ice-free and had a fall that could have been nasty. Fortunately, she survived her fall.

I was thinking about this the other day and it reminded me of another incident of many years ago.One day I was out walking with my son and we were climbing something similar to this only much higher.  I was over and firmly planted on the other side but as yet not looking behind me.All of a sudden I heard a voice, "Hey dad catch me!" I turned around to see my son happily jump off the top step straight at me. 

He had jumped and then yelled, "Hey Dad!"

I became an instant circus act as I reached out to catch him. We both fell to the ground, him laughing me happy it was not worse. When I caught my breath and found my voice, I asked him if he could give me a good reason why he had done that?

He looked at me and calmly answered, "Sure, because you are my dad." His actions rested on the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the full because I could be trusted to be there for him.

If this is true for a son or a daughter of their father, surely it is even more true for ourselves. If we can learn to know and trust ourselves knowing our limitations we can live life to the full, moment by moment day by day.

A man who lived in a part of the world where the weather was known to be unpredictable had wanted for years to own a good barometer. After a bit of saving and some study on what type would be the best purchase, he made his purchase.

When the instrument arrived at his home he thought that it looked great in terms of the workmanship but he was bitterly disappointed when the needle remained stuck, even after some shaking. 

It was constantly pointing at the word Hurricane. He gave it another few shakes but still, it remained the same.

He sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store expressing his annoyance at the shoddy goods they had sent him. The following morning on his way to his office he posted the letter in the mailbox.

That evening he returned home to find the barometer laying on the floor the glass broken and scattered, as was all the glass from his windows and doors unlike those of his neighbours who had shuttered up for the predicted hurricane that had in fact arrived.

Sometimes life and relationships and day to day living can be much better if there is some trust in the air.

I remember being moved the first time I watched blind skiers hurtling down a slalom course on a very steep mountain. They had trained hard and with the help of a sighted skier had learned how to ski and slalom. 

The sighted skier shouted instructions as he or she skied beside the blind skier calling left or right. The blind skier had learned not only how to ski but how to trust.

The father who persuaded his daughter to jump from the fourth step of the patio promising to catch her but let her fall when she jumped did his daughter no favours when he said, "Let that be a lesson in life. Trust nobody."

Trust is a two-way passage between the trustee and the truster. To be able to put your trust in the hands of another can lead to an uplifting experience. To be trusted fully by another is to be in an honoured position that must never be betrayed. 

I trust you have a marvellous day.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Music Fills me with Gratitude.

Music Fills Me With Joy and Gratitude.

I have often wondered if I have ever affected the lives of people in such a way that one day they might remember. I would like to think I have, but may never know.

I do know that my life was affected by others whom I will never forget. Some I remember so very well and have in the past mentioned them on this blog. But one very humble teacher I am most grateful for. She was Little by name and little of stature but had a tremendous heart of giving and encouraging and I will be eternally grateful to her. 

I will never forget the lunchtime break when she reached into her drawer and read me the following words.

"Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably of their own will never come to be. Make big plans, aim high in the hope they work for you. Remember this your children are going to do things that will stagger you."

How true those words were. I remembered them later when I was planning on leaving my job as a butcher and trying to do something more. many told me I was being silly, I would never achieve anything. I remembered those words read to me by one of the few teachers who ever seemed to have any hope for me.

Later in life when I was giving a speech to a large gathering of students I retold this story and what was on the bit of paper she had read to me.  I told them how she had inspired me when everybody else seemed to be putting me down.

Somebody told her about that speech and she got in touch with me. She thanked me. She then told me that when she was going to be a teacher, members of her family told her continually she was wasting her time. When she heard about the speech I had given she proudly went to her family and said, "You see I was never wasting my time."

Encouraging others has a ripple effect, they, in turn, may inspire others and so it could go on. I do hope so because then my teacher Mrs Little would still be inspiring others even though she is no longer with us.

A famous preacher was one day having a meal in a very busy restaurant. Just as he was about to have his meal another man came and asked if he could sit in the vacant place at his table. He was told yes.

Then as was his custom the preacher bowed his head in quiet prayer. When he had finished the other man asked him, "Do you have a sore head?"  The preacher replied, " No I do not have not have."

"Is there something wrong with the food you have been served?"

"No, I was simply giving thanks for the food as I always do before I eat."

The man looked at him and said, "Oh you are one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow I do not have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in."

The preacher looked at the man again, "Yes, you are just like my dog. That is what he does too.!"

The gratitude may sound like a really old-fashioned word, but I do not think the reality of gratitude should be allowed to slip from out thinking or vocabulary. We all have something or somebody in life to whom we are grateful.

Have a music filled day of joy and gratitude. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Art of Saying Thanks.

A wee selfie.

The World is Mine.

Today upon the bus I saw a lovely lass with golden hair,
I envied her so happy did she seem, I wished I was so fair.
She rose to leave and hobbled down the aisle.
She had one foot and owned a crutch
She passed me with a smile.
Forgive my whine I have two feet,
The whole wide world is mine.

I stopped along the way to buy some sweets,
The lad who served had such a charm.
He seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner so kind and warm.
“It is nice to deal with you,” I said,
“Such courtesy I seldom find.”
He turned, “oh thank you, sir.”
I saw that he was blind.
Forgive my whine, I have two eyes.
The whole wide world is mine.

Walking down the way I saw a child with eyes so blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
Seemed not to know just what to do.
Why don’t you join the others, do not fear?
He looked ahead and never a word, I knew he could not hear.
Forgive my whine, I have two ears.
The whole wide world is mine.

With feet to take me where I go.
Eyes to see the sunsets glow.
Ears to hear what I would know.
I'm blessed indeed, the world is mine.
Forgive me when I whine.

How easy it is to get up each day get washed and dressed and head out to enjoy the world around me. I am so grateful that this is for me the case. It is sad when we see how others take such things for granted and day in and out spoil the beauty all around. No sense of either gratitude or thankfulness.

I can say from personal experience that so often people accept help that is given freely and later can pass you by without a nod or a word. Maybe they would rather I had not known they needed the help, but never a simple thanks.

A lecturer I once had as a great friend told about a ministerial student, who was part of a life-saving squad. A ship went aground on the shore, and the student waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. 

Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

Oh, how simple it is to just take things for granted.

In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, "Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?"
The rabbi answers, "Take your goat into the room with you."  The man is incredulous, but the rabbi insists. "Do as I say and come back in a week." 

A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before.  "We cannot stand it," he tells the rabbi. "The goat is filthy." 

The rabbi then tells him, "Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week." 

A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, "Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there's no goat -- only the nine of us." 

I remember while I was a minister preaching on the story of the ten lepers helped by Jesus. One of the ten came and sought out Jesus and thanked him for his help.

Later I wondered about the other nine, what happened to them? I speculated.

One waited to see if the help was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later but never did.
One decided that he had never had leprosy so had never needed help.
One said he would have got well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, "O, well, Jesus didn't really do anything."
One said, "Anyone could have done it."
One said, "I was already much improved."

Whatever happened to the art of saying thank you. It costs little, no, it costs nothing.

Have a great day and thank you for taking time to read my words.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

What does it Take?

The Chinese writing is my name in Chinese nothing more sinister. I found myself one way or another waiting in queues yesterday. On my homeward walk from my walk, an old lady asked me if I would do her a favour. She was afraid to venture out on the snow and ice, "Would I take the mail to the post box and post it for her?" When I got there somebody was putting in a large number of items so I had to wait. I then went into the store and found two queues of people. I joined the longer of the two and wondered why. It then dawned on me that I had chosen the longer of the two because I enjoyed being served by that particular shop assistant.

This reminded me of another queue I had once been in at the post office. It was a long and very slow queue. Two persons in front of me was a nice old lady with a few envelopes in her hand. The person in front of me said to her, " If you are only waiting to get stamps for your letters you don't have to be here you can get them from the machine over there." The old lady looked at her and replied, "Yes I know that. But that thing does not ask me how my arthritis is doing. jane at the counter will take time to ask me."

It is amazing how much difference a little act of kindness or a word of kindness can make such a difference to a persons day. It is very easy to get so caught up in our own little world that we can fail to notice others.  A bit like the lady I began to pass on a woodland track. it started with a good morning. Then a little bit about the weather. Then a bit about how far had we walked. Now after a few weeks, I feel sure she walks this path and looks forward to a little chat.

Somerset Maughan's mother was an extraordinarily beautiful woman married to an extraordinarily ugly man. When a friend once asked how such a beautiful woman could have married such an ugly man, she replied, "He has never once hurt my feelings."

A man named Henry Pearce was competing in a rowing race at the Olympics. He was in the lead when he noticed a mother duck and a line of ducklings following her in his path. He slowed down to almost a stop. He did not want to do any harm to them. He lost his place but managed by a tremendous effort to win it back and end the race first. Usually, such acts of kindness in a sporting event would cost the race and result in defeat. There is a well known saying in sport, "Nice guys finish last." Pearce proved this not to be so.

Another amazing true story is about Eugenio Monti an Italian bobsledder. He was at a world event and was sitting in first place. There was only one person left who could beat him a man by the name of Tony Nash. Just as Nash was about to make his final run he discovered a broken bold on his sledge. he was about to pull out of the race giving Monti the victory. monti was having none of it. he took the same bolt from his sledge and gave it to nash. nash went on to set a world record.

An act of kindness that went way and beyond the expected.

As it is said, "Do not go out looking for good deeds to do, but if one comes your way, do not refuse. If you meet someone suffering,, you must help them."

What good is self-cultivation and wisdom gathering if you keep it to yourself? Wisdom and Kindness are meant to be shared. if you can use it on behalf of others then, of course, you should.

This is the way of the Tao.

Have a wonderful day, may an act of kindness come your way.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

To seize the moment.


I have watched herons on many occasions, both of the grey and the white variety. I saw this one yesterday morning as I walked. it came down towards me and settled on the spot you can see in the picture. being fascinated by how still they very quickly become I stopped in my tracks and watched.

Within seconds of standing in the water, it took up a still unmoving posture looking almost like an imitation of the real thing. I watched and for the first time in all the years, I have done this same thing I saw all of a sudden a lightning-fast movement as it caught a fish. smoothly and with a kind of grace it turned the fish around and let it slip down its throat. Breakfast! In almost the same movement it returned to its motionless stance.

There is a wonderful lesson in the actions of this beautiful bird. Its serenity was like a vigilance as if it was in a contemplative mood. it was not standing in dumbness or sleep, its stillness had a purpose. It stands in the flowing water and gazes unperturbed and above all aware. At the correct moment, it moves without hesitation or deliberation and seizes the opportunity.

Then it returns to its quiescence without disturbing either itself or its surroundings. had it not found the correct spot and remained patient and ready it would most certainly have failed. This is what I meant the other morning when I spoke of going with the flow and following the Tao. I say this for those who have asked me to explain what I meant.

Actions in life can be reduced to two factors, positioning and timing. if we have not put ourselves in the right place and at the right time we cannot possibly grasp opportunity or take advantage of what life puts our way.

Like the heron, we need to be aware, alert, alive and prepared. Even if we happen to be in the right place and at the right time, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment because we have drifted off and no longer aware of our surroundings.

We can hamper our chances with doubts and second thoughts. With doubts about our ability. Life presents us an opportunity, we must be ready to grasp it, without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness, awareness useless without being in the right place.

We can drift or we can go with the flow. They are not the same. Drifting we walk oblivious to our surroundings and we miss so much that nature and life have put our way. Going with the flow we are still alert and ready to meet the moment and grasp the day.

We do not lose or make mistakes. We seize the day. How often I have been asked how I notice the things that I do? It is a simple case of being in the moment, going with the flow. Or if I may use the term. Do and be in Tao.

My apologies if this sounds airy-fairy or religious or philosophical jargon, all I can say is that it has been working for me and it is bringing me much joy, harmony and a sense of peace and life. 

I wish you a marvellous day. If I sound off the wall please stick with me. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Let Tomorrow Look After Itself.

A very good friend asked me yesterday, "What do you think this year of your life might bring for you?"

I looked at him and smiled and gave a very honest reply, "I wonder what I might do for the rest of this day?"

I have been doing a lot of personal study over the past few months and finding it very exciting. it has taken years from my attitude to life. I once again feel like a student back at university as I make the quest to fully understand the eighty-one chapters of the ancient book, Tao Te Ching. One of the worlds biggest selling book if you add together all the various and many translations of these eighty-one chapters.

The book was written by the ancient sage Lao Tzu. Written some 2600 years before the common era, better known to some as BC.

Not being able to read Chinese the language of the book I have gathered as many translations as I can and have studied those in a desire to possibly find some kind of understanding that speaks to myself in this present age. 

I have learned a great deal from this time-consuming study that has contributed to a sense of calmness and meaning. But of all the things I have found intriguing, I think the most important is to try and learn to go with the flow of life rather than have to consider and plan everything I will do.

To worry less about the future. 

Think about some of the things said about the future over the years.

"We don't think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out."

Speaking about the future of that which now plays an important and often controlling factor in some lives somebody said. "Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility, a development which we should waste little time dreaming about."

The chairman of the board of IBM said, "I think there is a world market for about five computers."

Fortunately for them most of those who said these things did not live to face the reality of their future predictions.

There are of course limitations to how far it is possible to go with the flow of life. It is not possible to just decide you are unwell and turn up at the hospital expecting to be treated instantly, well not for most of us there are those who do.

If we feel like going to be present and listen to a live orchestral concert we cannot just turn up at the venue whenever we wish and hope to have a concert beginning just when we wish. The very nature of modern life determines that we cannot just do that.

But what we can do is not fret over tomorrow, or even worse put ourselves in a great state of worry about tomorrow to the extent that we kill all joy or peace today. But I most certainly have found that a less stressful view of the future has brought an added dimension to my life. 

But let me end on a rather lighter note.

A fortuneteller, gazing into a crystal ball,  said to the frog waiting for a prophecy, "You are going to meet a beautiful young woman. From the moment she sets eyes on you she will have an insatiable desire to know all about you. 

She will be compelled to get close to you will fascinate her." 

The frog captivated by what sounded like a wonderful future asked, "Where will I be? Will I be at a singles club?" 

The fortuneteller rather sad-eyed replied,  "No, you will be in the Biology class."

Have a wonderful day and life it to the full. have a day filled with happenings you never dreamt of. Do not fret about the morrow, "Let Tomorrow take Care of Itself."

Monday, 15 January 2018


I cannot begin writing anything this morning without first thanking all the very many friends and family who got in touch with me yesterday to make what I had called just another day into something so very far from that. I have never been good at surprises, yesterday I had to learn to do just that. So many times yesterday I was surprised and overwhelmed. 

From people and places came kind actions and moving words that left me speechless and gave me a day that will be in the memory bank for the rest of my sojourn.  I will find it very difficult to thank everybody individually but I will make the effort. 

I hope my response is a very positive and thankful one because that is how I am feeling this morning. As I sat at the end of the day contemplating I just could not for the life of myself understand how, in such a world, people can have bitterness in their hearts. 

It is like the two friends who some thirty years ago had a difference of opinion, and their friendship had never been restored. At New Year they both ended up in the same room and the same party. A friend went to one of them and said,"You must make the effort tonight of all nights to put this behind you. Go over and say to James that you wish him a Happy New Year."

So James crossed the room rather slowly towards the one time friend, he said, "I wish you a happy New Year, but only one."

The truth was that neither of them could even remember what it was that had come between them.

Sigmund Freud, it seems was even worse.  He wrote just before his death, "I have found little that is good about human beings on the whole. In my experience, most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all." 

Freud died friendlessly. It is well-known that he had broken with each of his followers. The end was bitter. 

"I've had a few arguments with people," someone once confessed, "but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing." 

A rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harbouring of hate and resentment against others is, a biting of oneself. 

We think that we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves. 

It is never good to have a heart of bitterness, it achieves nothing. Those who make an effort to make amends have a life filled with friends.

Think about the oyster. It takes a grain of sand and turns it into a beautiful pearl. 

Too often we are just the opposite, we take pearls and turn them into grains of sand. 

Once again my dear thanks my friends, all of you who made my day so special. Have a wonderful day today.