Christmas and the New Year is always a time when I find myself digging through “old stuff”. This is partly because, as I acquire various gifts for people throughout the year, I put them in “special places” which I then forget about. Therefore I have to search high and low for them, which leads me to look in places that I don’t check into normally. And so top shelves and boxes and bottom drawers yield a treasure trove of gifts, new gems, words that I have squirrelled away that now come to light to be shared with others. Enjoy!
“When working with others, leave the results to God.” (Anonymous)
“What makes us special is the signature of God on our lives.” (Max Lucado)
“To expect life to be tailored to our specifications is to invite frustration.” (Anonymous)
“Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” (Erica Jong)
“Fatherly and motherly hearts often beat wise and warm in the breasts of bachelor uncles and maiden aunts; and it is my private opinion that these worthy
creatures are a beautiful provision of nature for the cherishing of other people’s children.” (Louisa Mae Alcott)
“Contentment is the philosopher’s stone, which turns all it touches into gold; the poor man is rich with it, the rich man poor without it.” (Proverb)
“Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulders; but cheerful folks manage
to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night.” (Marion Howard)
“The longer I live the more I am convinced that the one thing worth living for and dying for is the privilege of making someone more happy and more
useful. No man who ever does anything to lift his fellows ever makes a sacrifice.” (Booker T. Washington)
“Grant to me that I may be made beautiful in my soul within, and that all external possessions be in harmony with my inner man. May I consider the wise man
rich, and may I have such wealth as only the self-restrained man can bear or endure.” (Prayer of Socrates)
“I’ve learned to hold everything loosely because it hurts when God pries my fingers from it.” (Corrie ten Boom)
“The burden of suffering seems to be a tombstone hung around our necks. Yet in reality it is simply the weight necessary to hold the diver down while
he is searching for pearls.” (Julius Richter)
And this last one is truly one to ponder on:
“Never underestimate yourself or what God can do in your life because remember, professionals built the Titanic, but amateurs built the ark!”
I may not have written much in the last couple of months, but words have still been the centre of my life. They were not running off my fingertips through the computer but they were certainly filling my heart, soul, and mind. In the absence of writing I have been doing a lot of reading.
It’s as though words in some way, shape, or form have to be in my life. I love seeing them printed or written across the page. It fascinates me to think about what the words hold. It could be information about an object, a machine say, or it could be the description of a place.
Words have the power to fire our imagination. They can transport us to some magical landscape where we can "escape” for a few hours as we read. They can describe a character so that we think we can see them, smell them, hear them as they speak. The author Morris West (In The Shoes Of The Fisherman) has an incredible gift for this last talent, and this was what drew me to read all of his books.
In the latter part of 2009 I was introduced to the author Robert B. Parker. His style of writing attracted me immediately. He wrote a couple of series of books with different central characters; the Spenser novels, the Jesse Stone novels, and the Sunny Randall novels. They are all of the detective genre.
He used a short sharp yet easy flowing style of writing, especially when it came to conversations between people. Some of his sentences are just two words long! Yet everything is perfect in the moment. And he uses a form of dry, wry wit that appeals to my English sense of humour.
Over a period of about three months I think I read everything he wrote. Back in January 2010 I was devouring his last three or four books from the library shelf when I heard the news of his death. I remember my immediate thought was “Oh no, what will I read now!” as if he were the only writer producing books.
But he had very quickly become “my Robert B. Parker (RBP)”. He had entered my heart and my soul through his generously-shared talent. I thought of him as a friend who set out to entertain me with each of his books. The only positive thing that I can say about his passing is that he died at his typewriter doing what he loved most.
So having completed all his books I then had to find someone else. I love detective/spy books so I stayed in that genre. Checking along the shelves in the library I remember thinking, “I need to find a prolific author; someone who has as many books on the shelf as “my RBP”. And so Sue Grafton found her way into my book bag.
Her A,B,C books based on the character Kinsey Millhone are great. Her style is different yet just as interesting as RBP. Kinsey is a little off-beat, a little off-centre, and as a woman detective is just finding her way around the profession. I guess what attracts me to her is that there is a part of her that is organized and yet there is another great chunk of her that is delightfully, quirkily “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants”.
Her well-preserved and still very attractive octogenarian neighbour Henry and his other “just as old if not older” siblings add some unique interest to the story. But the spice is added, literally, by Rosie, of Hungarian origins, who runs a small restaurant/grill/bar down the road from Kinsey’s home. I can almost hear her speaking in her broken accent and can imagine the expressions on her face and in her voice the way Sue Grafton describes her.
So here I am having read the latest, U Is For Umbrella, and wondering who will be the next author that my eyes fall upon, that my nose smells out. One thing is for sure, I will not be without words in some way or another. They feed my soul and my mind. I will not go hungry!
I’m back on one of my favorite subjects again – words. In recent postings,Poetry- Words Painting Pictures, Musings- Sharing Our Gifts And Talents, and Reading Or Writing- It’s Still About Words, I have spoken at length about my fascination with the written word. Seeing the way that words are strung together by different authors to achieve different descriptive effects gives me great pleasure and reaches into my soul.
However, words, ether written or spoken, can be used for negative purposes too. Just a few days ago I was witness to a small scene between two people that reminded me of this. There is no need to go into the details of the situation. Suffice it to say that one of the parties involved was extremely hurt at the end of the exchange and it gave me pause to think, once again, about the power of words.
Words can be used to build up or tear down a person’s sense of self worth, their self esteem. Words can comfort or they can cause pain. They can be a generous gift or a piercing sword. Words can cause laughter or tears, they can bring enlightenment or they can confuse. In the mouth of the speaker or the writer, words can be veritable weapons far more destructive than a bomb.
Sometimes the words themselves are not at fault. When delivering a message about the death of a dear one, or giving the truth about a harsh medical diagnosis, the messenger cannot change the words in order to not cause pain. Bad and difficult situations happen in life and we need to be informed of them. That is part of Life itself. But the way in which such information is given can make a huge difference to the receiver.
I am well aware that in the past I have cut people down, usually those closest and dearest to me, by thoughtless and scathing criticism. I have also been on the receiving end of such word lashings and I know how that feels. Over the years I have learned to curb my tongue, to take a deep breath and think twice before speaking.
How many times have I wanted to take back words spoken in haste. But the word, once spoken, cannot be erased. The most I can do is make attempts at reparation and ask forgiveness, as quickly as possible, and pray that the damage caused is minimal and that the injured party finds it within their heart to “forgive and forget”.
I try to remain on high alert when I know that I am going to be involved in discussions on sensitive issues. I always pray and ask God to keep me in a state of compassion. One of my favorite prayers is the Prayer of St. Francis. This is the prayer that I take into many difficult situations or before going into a retreat process. I would like to share that prayer with you now.
- Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
- that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
- that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
- that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
- that where there is error, I may bring truth;
- that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
- that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
- that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
- that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
- Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
- to understand, than to be understood;
- to love, than to be loved.
- For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
- It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
- It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.