Thursday, 19 October 2017

Getting to Heaven.

I regularly got into trouble at school because I answered questions with all the honesty I could muster. Frequently those answered were misconstrued and I ended up in bother. 

My mouth has got me into trouble frequently throughout my whole life. I think I found social skills very difficult. When I decided to enter the ministry a dear old lady who had in many senses adopted me spent a great amount of time telling me what was and what was not acceptable behaviour. 

She also told me how to conduct myself at table, not only the cutlery but everything about the process. I always found this difficult but if I was to be a minister it was something i had to learn. 

Last night i watched a programme presented by Chris Peckham speaking about his life with Aspergers.  It certainly sounded very familiar to my past.

Like him I got into many difficulties. I suppose I should rejoice in retirement because I can be selective about where I go and with whom. I can rejoice in not having to constantly meet strangers. I can allow my obsessive behaviour its full reign within the constraints of affordability. 

I wonder if the young boy in the following tale had something going on in his life or did he just have a deep understanding of the realities of life. 

Before I tell it the painting above is the other one I thought i no longer had. Dunfermline Abbey.  I spent many happy happy hours in those grounds and around that bridge as a young lad just exploring. 

The story is of the Sunday School teacher speaking with her class. The lesson was on the concept of getting to heaven.

She asked them, 'If I sold my house and my car, 
 had a big garage sale 
and gave all my money 

to the church, 

Would that get me into Heaven?'


Answered the class. 

'If I cleaned the church every day, 
mowed the lawns, 

and kept everything neat and tidy, 
would that get me into Heaven?'

Again, the answer was, 'NO!' 

By now she was starting to smile. 
Hey, this was fun!

'Well, then, if I was kind to animals 

and gave sweets 
to all the children, 
and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?' 
She asked them again.     

Again, they all answered, 'NO!' 

She was just bursting with pride for them. 
'Well,' she continued, 'then how can I get into Heaven?' 
A five-year-old boy shouted out, 
 The first thing you need to get to heaven is you have to be DEAD 

Once again it takes the wisdom of a child to get to the heart of the matter. That is the sort of answer that got me into trouble often. 

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A feeling of success.

I was determined yesterday that I would clean my workplace.  Whether I decide my next project will be a mosaic or back to painting I thought it was time for a real clean up. So out I went with a sense of determination a bucket of hot soapy water and cleaning materials. 

I made a ruthless start throwing out all the things I had held onto just in case I might use them. I even found this painting in a beautiful mount along with another. I was so positive I had sold this one. I think what I sold was a print or two from a website, I still have the two originals. What will I do with those? I have put them somewhere safe. 

Eventually, after a good few hours, I felt happy I had made a great job. I told my wife I had. She said she would give me a bit of time to enjoy the obvious feeling of success before going out and showing me all I had missed. 

When she did go out she was surprised I had, in fact, made an excellent job.

Tired as I was I then went out for a walk with my friends.

As I sat down for the evening, I had a warm glow, of having at least something to show for my day. 

I had set myself a task and more than completed it.

How easy it is to look at the prospect of the day and think, it cannot be done. Because we believe that nothing is done.  

Let me explain!

If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. 

The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
A Bumblebee if dropped into an open tumbler will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
In many ways, it is simple to be like the buzzard, the bat and the bee. 

We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is right there if we just raise our sights.

I hope that does not sound like me reverting to my preacher mode, I do not intend to.   

Have a challenging and wonderful day.   Sadly today I will have to find something to do that involves less physical challenge my cold is back with a vengeance.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Pencil.

 I had hoped to clear up my paint space and the little room I have in the house where I sit to do any preliminary drawing I want to do. I got the little room cleared and looking ready for whatever next project I might begin. I did not get out to the paint space for two reasons. 

First it was very heavy rain and windy and I did not want to transport materials from the house to there and the other way round in the rain. I may still manage because I am writing in the late afternoon and it is beginning  to fair. 

The second reason I am so far behind is because I sat and sorted through all of my pencils. Now I can hear you say surely that does not take very long. If I tell you I have a large assortment of pencils, pastel, watercolour, inktense ,graphite and on and on well over 500 different pencils. I sharpened them all. and put them in their proper places. 

This reminded me of the story of the pancil maker. 

This reminds me of the story of the pencil maker and his pencils. 

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box. 

"There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be."

One: "You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone's hand."

Two: "You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil."

Three:  "You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

Four:  "The most important part of you will always be what's inside."

Five:  "On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to make your mark"

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. 

Now replacing the place of the pencil with ourselves.  

We must always remember the same things, never forget, and we will become the best persons we can be. 

One: "We will be able to do many great things, but only if we allow ourselves to be held in some guiding hand. And allow other human beings to access us for the many gifts we  possess.


Two: "We will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but we need it to become a stronger person." 

Three: "We will be able to correct any mistakes we might make. "

Four: "The most important part of us will always be what's on the inside.


Five: "On every surface we walk through, you must leave our mark. No matter what the situation, we must continue to leave good marks."

Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.

Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

Have a marvelous day.  Go forth and make a mark. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Oh To Be Perfect.

Have you ever heard of the, you could have done better syndrome?  

I heard of it from a very early age in life. My mother was one of those people who, no matter how well a thing was done it was never quiet good enough. She was also one who was never slow to let you know.

I remember a school test. I had worked really hard to prepare for it, more than I could remember having prepared for any other test in school. I found school so difficult I had already almost given up on it completely. On the day of the test I felt well prepared as I sat down to look at the test paper. I completed all the questions well within the set time and handed in the completed paper.

The next day the teacher handed  back the papers, marked and scored. I had done very well having only got two questions not completely correct. It turned out that I was second top, from a class of 32. I went home proudly holding my test paper to show my parents.

My mother looked at it and noted I had been second in the class. “What happened that you did not manage to come first?” This is my first remembrance of the, “you could do better syndrome.”  Did it make me better? The answer to that question is simply this. I am not at all sure. What it did do though was to set in motion, “The I can do better driver.” This driver I have carried through my whole life. 

 Even now all those years later I am never happy with what I have done or acheived. There is always that little niggle in the back saying, "Could I have done better?"

This reminds me of the story of the man who had never married. One day his best friend asked him why he had never met somebody and settled down? He told his friend that he had wanted very much to do just that. He had looked and looked for the perfect girl. “You never found her?” asked his friend. “Yes I did,” he replied. He went on to tell his friend how he had met the perfect girl. She was perfectly beautiful and perfectly talented loving and caring. She would have made the perfect wife. “So why did you not marry her?” asked his friend. “Because she was looking for the perfect man.”

I think it is a bit late for me to learn the lesson I should have learned years ago but I have learned this. I never ever tell somebody that what they have achieved and are proud of is not the best. I strive to always encourage and inspire.

Now if only I could do that for myself.

Have a great day, inspire somebody not to do better but by telling them how well they have done.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Love Is ........

I was listening to John Lennon the other day as I wandered through the forest. It would have been his birthday had he not been shot. The music I was listening to was an album of very thought provoking songs written after the break up of the Beatles. 

Every track had another thought and another question about the meaning of life. Mother, Working Class Hero, God and Love. Each track made me a question and consider. 

I did not always agree with the thoughts he was sharing but I could fully understand where he was coming from. My thinking goes on! 

One track reminded me of this true story.

There was once a lad who suffered from cancer... a cancer that could not be treated. He was 18 years old and he could die anytime. All his life, he was stuck in his house being taken care of by his mother. He never went outside but he was sick of staying home and wanted to go out for once. 

So he asked his mother and she gave him permission.
He walked down the high street and found and looked in many of the stores. He passed a shop selling records and CDs. He looked in through the front door for a second as he walked. He stopped and went back to look into the shop again. 

He saw a young girl about his age and he knew it was love at first sight. He opened the door and walked in, not looking at anything else but her. He walked closer and closer until he was finally at the front of the counter where she stood.
She looked up and asked, "Can I help you?"
She smiled and he thought it was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen before and wanted to kiss her right there.
He said, "Uh... Yeah... Umm... I would like to buy a CD."
He picked one out and gave her money for it.
"Would you like me to wrap it for you?" she asked, smiling her cute smile again.
He nodded and she went to the back.
She came back with the wrapped CD and gave it to him. He took it and walked out of the shop. 

He went home and from then on, he went to that store frequently and bought a CD, and she wrapped it for him. Each time he took the CD home and put it in his closet. He was still too shy to ask her out and he really wanted to but he couldn't. His mother found out about this and told him to just ask her.
So the next day, he took all his courage and went to the shop. He bought a CD like he did every other time and once again she went to the back came back with it wrapped. 

He took it and when she wasn't looking, he left his phone number on the desk and ran out...
The mother picked up the phone and said, "Hello?"
It was the girl!!! She asked for the boy and the mother started to cry and said, "You don't know? He passed away yesterday..."
The line was quiet except for the cries of the boy's mother. Later in the day. The mother went into the boy's room. She thought she would start by looking at his clothes. So she opened the closet. She was face to face with piles and piles of unopened CDs. 

She sat down and opened one.
Inside, there was the CD  and as she took it out of the wrapper, out fell a piece of paper. The mother picked it up and started to read it.
It said: Hi... I think U R really cute. Do u want to go out with me? Love, Jacelyn
The mother opened another CD...
Again there was a piece of paper. It said: Hi... I think U R really cute. Do u want to go out with me? Love, Jacelyn.

Love is... as John Lennon said. 

He then went on to say what it was some of which I might agree with much that I would question.  

Love is so precious it should be grasped at every opportunity. Life is full of moments when love can touch our lives but often we let it slip from our grasp. 

Grasp the moment and the day. 

Have a marvellous day and may you feel touched by LOVE.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

So you want to be a butterfly?

 In the course of the day, I find some strange things happening to me in spite of all my efforts to stop such events. In fact, I often manage to do at least one really silly thing a day.

So I suppose Friday the 13th was bound to be just such a day. It was miserable and wet and very windy so rather than venture out walking I decided a clean up of my study was the order of the day. I began with my file boxes. So full of all sorts of paper. Most of it could now go into the bucket. I came across a card that said thank you on the front.  I was about to put it in the waste but decided to open it only to find the money somebody had given me for a painting.

I have a habit of putting things away safely and then forgetting where I put them. I also found my air-pods, I had been looking for those for three days.

I remember one day out walking. it was before I had my apple watch and I was wearing this little watch, not a costly thing at all, the strap was made of rubber. It was good when running, and walking light in weight and not accurate enough to have me trying to push to beat a deadline. It did not have any numerals on its face. It had a dot at the place where the 12 should be and that is it.

So most of my times end with an “ish”. This day I went walking and was enjoying stravaging along in no particular hurry. Twice I remember glancing at this watch and thinking, “I can have a bit longer sitting here.”  When I headed back home I was surprised to see the clock on the church tower. It was telling me a time I most certainly had not expected. I looked at my little watch, I had it on upside down.

Twice in the course of yesterday I heard somebody complaining about his or her life. How long and boring the day was , every day the same.

Another person complaining about the job they had, and how they longed for something better. I, on both occasions looked at them and could not believe how young they were. Then I have to remember everybody looks young to me. 

The first time I bit my tongue and said nothing, the second time I said to the person, “If you want to become a butterfly. First you have to stop wanting to be a caterpillar. You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.  Then I walked on, feeling terrible about having said that. He must have thought I was crazy.

There is a truth in it though. There is no good at all complaining about our circumstances if we are not prepared to make a change. 

We have to want to get rid of the old you and find the new you. Once you become the butterfly you can soar and fly. As long as you want to hold on to the caterpillar you better just get used to all the ground hugging and crawling it entails. 

I have had a few days in what I call my dark place but slowly and surely I am beginning to see the light in the tunnel. I am smiling as I remember that young man I wonder if he gave any thought to what I had said. 

Have a wonderful day, and weekend be a butterfly. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Drops of oil.

I have lived my life having what I call my dark times. I have had these for as long as I can remember, even as a very young boy. These dark moments can last a day sometimes a week not often but occasionally a bit longer. 

Over the years of my life, I have learned to accept these dark times. I am aware that they are not easy for those around me, but I rejoice in the fact those who care understand and give me time. Time not to find happiness but to get back into the light of normality.

No good searching for happiness or an answer, just wait, this too will pass.

A certain man sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our son, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity, tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world.

The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.

“Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,” said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. “As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.”

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

“Well,” asked the wise man, “Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

The boy was embarrassed and confessed that he had observed nothing. 

His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man. “You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. 

Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,” said the wisest of wise men.

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

Another way of thinking about this is to see the marvels around.  But also be aware of that which is in us the precious things we have with us at all times. 

To be surrounded by those who care to help us to be aware of the wider joys. 

Take care of the drops of oil and life will take care of you.

Have a good day.