Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Hug

A Hug.

The Gift

This was one of my earliest attempts at painting hands, always a very difficult thing to get right. I used pastel and tried to paint my own hands making use of the pastel coving them to help with the highlights. 

Having painted them I called this painting the gift. The hands are open in a sense of giving and friendship. Maybe I should have made them even more open and added some of the arms and called it the hug, it would i think have said more about what I was trying to convey.

A hug is marvellous thing, even though coming from my early background it took me a very long time to be convinced of the truth of this. Shows of affection never came easy to me and hugs offered were always difficult. My wonderful Gran who I had so much feeling for was aware of this and hugs were maybe not frequent but when offered were always just at the right time.

A Hug

It is amazing what a hug can do.
It can cheer you when your down and blue.
It can say, "I love you so."
Or simply say, " It's sad to see you go."

It can say, "Welcome Back."
Lets get this friendship back on track.
A hug can soothe each persons pain
and bring the rainbow after rain.

A Hug. Is marvellous there is no doubt about it.
It is hard to imagine life without it.
It needs no words so speaks to all,
appropriate in winter spring and fall.

A hug delights, it warms , it charms,
It must indeed be why we have arms,
To reach and embrace and hold you tight
To see your through a frightening night.

No need to worry about giving them away.
Theres more and more for another day.
So stretch your arms
and without delay
Give someone near a hug today.

Way back in my past I heard a poem somewhere along these lines. I could not find it written anywhere so my apologies for this my rather poor attempt at this poem of my own. Whether the poem is good or bad the thoughts conveyed are true each day.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Old Age is not so Bad

Old Age is not so Bad

Rainbow Warrior.

Yes it is a fact, that is me I am looking at in the mirror. I often ask myself who is that staring back at me, but the bottom line is I know it is me. 

So let me get positive, old age is a gift. I am now probably for the first time in my life, a person I have always wanted to be, the person I have spent years hunting for. Oh for sure, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body - the wrinkles and the muscles that used to run up and down mountains not so tight anymore. But I do not agonise over these things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter belly.

As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra biscuit, or for buying that extra large buddha that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my fireplace.

I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with raging.

Whose business is it if I choose to get up at 5am and write a blog and read my book, and go to bed at 9pm? 

I will sing with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50s & 60s even with my gravelly voice, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will. 

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set.I will ignore my son when he smilingly says, "Not so much the James Bond look," as he looks at my summer pictures.  They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten and I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn grey  even though it happened overnight after a mountain fall, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. 

I can say "no" and mean it. I can say "yes" and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer the question of those who ask what it is like to be old, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. 

And I shall eat dessert every single day, and in spite of what the pundits tell me if I feel like an ale with a friend I will have it. 

Remember that 24 hours after you have read this you to will be a day older. 


Friday, 29 January 2016

It is the Simple Little Acts

It is the Simple Little Acts


Right outside my living room window there is a little tree. It is the ideal spot to hang bird feeders, the many bushes close to the tree allows the birds shelter and a place to take the sunflower seeds I provide so that they can eat away from the hustle of the feeders. I am blessed with a variety of birds but get great pleasure from the little flock of Goldfinches. They seldom if ever come alone always around twenty. They gather on the tree next to the feeder and in turns fly down to feed. 

I get so much pleasure from those little birds and they in turn get fed by me. A simple little act that brings such high rewards.

This reminds me of a true story, one that has been well verified. It also speaks of an act of kindness where the end result far exceeded the act itself.

One night, at 11:30 pm, an older African-American woman was standing on the side of a 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 days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant combination console colour TV and stereo record player were delivered to his home. 

A special note was attached. 

The note 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. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. 

God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

I think that tale says more than any moralising I could get from my mind. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Who Packed the Parachute.

Who Packed the Parachute.

Storm Day.

Life is never ever just plain sailing. Sooner or later we all have to face up to the hardships of life. No person is immune. it is in those moments that we are grateful for the kind word to the helping hand. The encouragement. But none of these things can be taken for granted so when things are going well we should be storing up for the days that are not so good.

 How easy it is to go through life, never thanking a person or just saying hello, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason at all.

 Let me explain that by telling you a true story.

Charles Plumb, and yes that was his name, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air-missile.Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. he was captured and spent 6 years in a Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now is part of the lecture scene speaking of the lessons learned from his dreadful experience.

 One day, the he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "Your Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.  You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied.

 Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"

Plumb assured him, "It sure did. if your chute hadn't worked I would not be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: A white hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his
hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now I wonder who is packing my parachute?
 Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb
also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down
over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety. His experience reminds us all to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead.

 As you go through this day, or for that matter the rest of this week, this month, this year... take note of the people who pack your parachute!

A kind word here, a little act of kindness a gesture. Doesn't cost much or take much but it just might be the parachute somebody needs at that moment. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Joys of being a Teacher.

The Joys of being a Teacher.

Falkland Fountain. (Pen and Ink).

Yesterday I got a message from one of my past students. He was telling me how he had progressed and thanking me for being an inspiration to him. Now happily married he is doing well. 

A funny little story I remember was him going out for a run with me. he was trying very hard to get rid of some weight and get fitter. We ran eight miles the last two in some of the heaviest ever rain. 

A few days later his younger brother was in my class. One of the other students inferred that because I was getting older I would not be able to run the same. The young brother said loudly,"Do not be silly enough to challenge Mr T. to a run. My brother did and he was in bed for two days afterwards. "

The joy and wonder of life is you just never know when and how you are influencing the life of other or inspiring them to greater things.

Reminds me of a lovely story of the teacher and Adrain her pupil. I am sorry it is a longer than normal story but worthy of reading.

Jean Thompson stood in front of her sixth year class  and told her students  a lie. 

Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she cared about  all of them 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 student named Brian.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Brian the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkept and that he constantly needed a bath. Even worse he 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 Brian was a sullen student, 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 Brian's off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His first year  teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive student with a ready laugh." "He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second year 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 year 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 year teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in any of his subjects.  He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and this 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 Brian.

Many of the students brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, or nice little bags, except for Brian's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag. 

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the students 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 laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

Brian stayed behind just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to."

After the students left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching English. Instead, she began to teach students. 

Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Brian."

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 care for all of her students  exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Brian, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in high  school, she was his favourite. Six years went by before she got another note from Brian.
He then wrote that he had finished university, third in his class, and she was still his favourite teacher of all time.

 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, Dr. Brian Little PHD.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Brian 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, 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. Consider this fact in your venture of life.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Getting Life Into Perspective.

Getting Life Into Perspective.

Fondly Remembered.

 Today I arose to the main news item of today being an enquiry into the death of young boy from something that could have been avoided. The mother was very upset by what had happened and even now a year later is distraught at her loss.

This is very understandable and the hope can only be that lessons will be learned and the lives of other will not be lost because the same mistakes are made again.

Those who missed the boys illness for one reason and another will never forget this young boy and the story of his passing.

Life is not always plain sailing and the effect we have on the lives of others can not always be known.

The painting of the man above is of a man who will be known to those readers who hail from my birthplace. He was a quiet unassuming man who came into my life one night and change the course and the pattern of all the years that have come and gone since. 

We are often unaware of the influence we are having and it is wise to now and again stop and take stock of the things we say and the things we do.

Who of us knows what each day will bring we can but hope that the way we have set out our stall has prepared us for the toils of the day. 

A rich man asked the master to write something wise for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.

The master pondered, obtained a large sheet of paper and in his very best script wrote, " father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man read it and became very very angry. "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke as this?"

"No joke is intended," explained the master. "If before you yourself die your sone should die, this will grieve you greatly. If your grandchild should pass away before your son, both of you would be heart broken. 

If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have written it will be the natural course of life. I would call this real prosperity."

Monday, 25 January 2016



Viewpoint From Below

It is such a shame that the social media we are all familiar with with all its potential for good, can also be a place where people try to take advantage of others. In one day I was warned by a friend of yet another scam where those with no good intent were trying to get personal information for wrong reasons.

First reaction is to get angry and maybe even lose your temper. Now being a redhead in my youth I am familiar with temper. I as a child had a rather quick temper. It took a long time to discover the difference between righteous anger and losing my temper. 

There are two thoughts I share with you the reader today. The first is the story of the young boy who had a terrible temper.

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”
The second is an ancient story of the Zen master and his student. 
The student came to the master and said, "Master, I have a ungovernable temper, How can I cure it?"
" You have something very strange," replied the master. "Let me see what you have."
"Just now I cannot show it to you," replied the student.
"When can you show it to me," asked the master.
"It arises unexpectedly," said the student.
"Then," concluded the master, "It must not be your true nature. If it were , you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over."

You can put a knife in another and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. 
Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.
Todays painting is a watercolour in Falkland Estate. It is a viewpoint but from an unusual angle. It is from below the viewpoint looking up. Normally the top of the rock is the place where people stand and take pictures. It is often good to see things from another angle. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Just a Simple Little Act.

Just a Simple Little Act.

Along the Path.

Yesterday I visited the art gallery in Edinburgh to view some of the art of Turner the famous watercolorist. I left inspired and uplifted. As I journey home I thought of my own art and how I might  make it just a little more alive. I thought of this and that, now I have to put my thoughts into practice.

It is all very well thinking but if thinking does not lead to action then all it is is thinking. Inspiration dies if it does not lead to action.

A student of meditation attended a famous philosophical school of Buddhism. He became the student of the great teacher Gasan. 

After spending a few years it came time for him to depart. As he prepared to leave his teacher Gasan warned him. "Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you put it into action the light of that truth might go out."

There is the story of the man who was walking in the early hours along a beach. Before him he saw a man dancing along the beach. He thought to himself that this seemed a strange way to start your day. he picked up his pace to try and catch up with the man. As he drew nearer he noticed that the man was not in fact dancing. He was picking things off the beach and throwing them into the water. 

As he got nearer he saw that it was not stones he was throwing but starfish. He spoke to the young man and asked what he was doing. The young man told him, " The sun is coming up and the tide is going out. if these starfish are left on the beach they will dry out and die."

The man looked at him and said, "But there is miles of beach and hundreds of starfish you can never make much of a difference."

The young man picked up a starfish and threw into into the sea. As it hit the water he turned and said, "It sure has made a difference to that one."

Just because the task before seems immense or the thinking seems beyond practice is never a reason to let the light of concern go out. Every little action has ripples that can make momentous changes.

One small pebble thrown in a pool creates ripples that stretch way beyond the size of the pebble.

Todays painting I think needs one or two small changes tiny but I think they may lift it to greater heights. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Never Take Anything For Granted.

Never Take Anything For Granted.

Along The Trodden Path.

I was out walking yesterday along a well trodden path. Of all my walks this one is the closest
to home .

 Because it is so close it is so very easy to take it for granted and just walk. As I walked yesterday I was a person who was walking in front of me. It seemed obvious that this young person had been sent to walk the two dogs, and would rather have been elsewhere.  During the part of the walk where the person was in front of me I could see that she was more interested in her cell phone than she was about either the dog or the beauty around her.

The way of youth. I remember the many times my father , while we were out walk, would say to me,"Ralph can you not just be quiet for a moment and look and listen. You have two eyes and two ears and one mouth. Learn to use those in proportion. So twice as much listening and seeing than talking. " An excellent lesson.

Here is a little parable the Buddha once told to his followers. 

A man was travelling across a field when he encountered a tiger coming after him. It was very much a hungry looking tiger and the man was sure he had him as a meal in mind. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of a root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above.

Trembling the man looked down to where far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one black and one white, little by little started to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet that strawberry tasted, like no other he had ever tasted before.

Todays painting is of a little lochan surrounded by birch trees in the splendour of autumn. Missed by many walkers because it involves stepping up a little bank to see it, so many just pass by.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Things Are Not Always As They Seem.

Things Are Not Always As They Seem.

Autumn Photographer in Falkland Estate.

Just a very simple story this morning and then a few words about the art. 

It was a cold winter ad the old man who lived alone was feeling the need to keep his log fire burning. Fortunately he had a large pile of wood stored dry in his back garden. The daily task of going to his chopping block and preparing the next days logs was good for him. It gave him a task to accomplish and a opportunity to talk to the neighbours and those passing in the street. In many ways he looked forward to his time working at his block.

Each day he prepared enough logs for the following day knowing that they would protect him from the cold.

It was Wednesday and he pulled on his heavy warm pullover to begin his daily task.  He went out to the block, leaned down to pick up his axe. It was not there. Somebody had stolen it since yesterday.

At that very moment of discovering the missing axe, a young man walked passed and smiled to him saying nothing. The old man in that minute knew what had happened to his axe. This young man had stolen it! 

He spoke to his neighbour. he told her how shifty the young man had looked. it was so obvious that he was a thief. That smile , not so much a smile as a smirk had said it all. A thief for sure.

That day the old man was warm because he had the logs from the day before but he would have to go sparing until he could afford to get a new axe. Everybody he spoke to was told about the thief. The story grew and like most stories grew in its telling. Within about two days the whole area was aware of the thief and all were on their guard.

The old man was badly needing heat. he diced he would go to his wood pile and sort the wood into two bundles, small and large. Ones that might fit his fire and those that would have to wait until later. 

As he worked he was surprised. As he moved the logs into the two piles he found his axe. It had been left on the ground, some logs had fallen and covered it. 

As he picked it up, the young man who was passing smiled and asked if he could help him by cutting some wood for him.

Todays art is another in the beautiful estate of Falkland. it was painted using my iPad , ( After the style of David Hockney),. I had a discussion with my friend yesterday about using technology to produce art. In the end when I showed them the process and how it was so very similar to using a paint brush they agreed that it was not a simple task and said they were not at all surprised that I being the geek I am would embrace such methods of making art. "Not bad for an old git like me."

Thursday, 21 January 2016

One Thing At A Time

One Thing At A Time

Moonlight Along The Coastal Path.

I had a very interesting conversation yesterday. The person I was talking to in the midst of the conversation made comment that sh was at the time multitasking. I smile. Multitasking we are told is something that females can do and males cannot. Now I do not wish to become embroiled in a sexist conversation that will lead me nowhere. I simple admit that I am hopeless at multitasking and happy that this is in fact the case.

Multitasking, I can't  do two things at once. I can't even do one thing at once.

I have said it before and I say it again, my father who was a wise man, always told me to do whatever I was doing to the best of my ability and you cannot ask yourself for more.  My mother often sat with her knitting while reading a book and in the background the radio would be playing. To this day I do not know which of the three she was in fact doing. Maybe them all. But was she doing them to the best of her ability?

Most of us never really focus because we don't know the power of focus. We constantly feel a kind of irritating psychic chaos because we keep trying to think of too many things at once. There's always too much up there on the screen of the mind.

 It was Lao Tzu who said that we must do what we are doing and do it well. If you are walking remember you are not running, if you are running remember you are not walking. 

There is a very interesting experiment. A teacher  puts a plank of wood on the floor, not a great wide plank just a normal plank of wood, two by four. The teacher then asks all the students to walk across the plank one at a time. Every student would be able to walk across this plank with very little difficulty. It is in fact a simple task they have been asked to do.

But now think of this same plank, see it in your mind, it is now stretched across a high ravine. How many of the students would be able to walk across the plank now? The number would be a lot less than you might imagine. For some the very thought of it is more than enough.

Why do you think this is the case? It is because the point of focus has been changed. Now most people are focused not on getting over the plank they have switched the focus onto falling from the plank.

As one who has crossed many mountain ridges let me tell you I find it hard to walk them but I can manage fine when running. Walking gives me too much time to change the point of focus.

Many people feel they must multi-task because everybody else is multitasking, but this is partly because they are all interrupting each other so much.

This blog is never meant to be controversial it is merely meant to be a quiet start to a day or a moment of thought. But the greatest lesson I have ever learned in life is that to do one thing and do it well is the best way to happiness. 

I used to be hopeless and washing dishes. I really was, somebody always had to do them behind me. That was because my mind was always somewhere else. Now I get pleasure in a dish well washed , and I make sure that it is. 

todays painting is one of my favourite topics of painting. There is something peaceful and calm about a moonlight sky. This one was painted for my pleasure in pastel. Not the most important fact about it was that it had sold because the painting had already done what its purpose for me was. it had brought me pleasure and satisfaction.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Two Lumberjacks.

The Two Lumberjacks.

A Resting Place.

Yesterday i went walking in the Falkland Estate near my home. I had not had a good walk for sometime due to my recent fall. How good it was to get out again. It was a beautiful morning with some of the recent snow still lying on the paths and trees.

At about the hallway point of my walk is this large stone which makes a very natural place to sit and have a break. As I passed along the way I could hear the sound of wood being sawn.

The place and the sound reminded me of the story of, " The two Lumberjacks."

It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simply who could fell the most trees in a day was the winner.

The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win.

At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going.

At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.

At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.

When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumber jack and said: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously through the night. What's more, I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.

The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “Every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”

We live in a turbulent world, it is easy to feel at unease with all that we say day in and day out, but  there are still days and places where it is possible to find tranquillity and peace. 

My painting for today depicts  just such a place.

When we happen upon such a place, it is right to take rest from the trials and tribulations of the world and life.

Sometimes we might sit  and enjoy just a moment of quiet, or maybe, the beginning of a sunset or a sunrise. In the silence of a moment rest and relax and accept the promise of a mysterious comfort that such places can bring.

In such private places and moments, we can often find peace. Such stillness can be very precious, as when we hear the deep voice of a stream we were always too busy to hear before. Indeed, sometimes we are so worn out by  our daily activities that we forget to notice our need for recharging.

Renewal is a profound tonic. With sanctuary and rest, we can prepare to go forth again.