Monday, 18 May 2015

Hope' Is The Thing With Feathers




'Hope' is the thing with feathers -- 
That perches in the soul -- 
And sings the tune without the words---
And never stops--at all-- 

And sweetest--in the Gale-- is heard-- 
And sore must be the storm-- 
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm--

I've heard it in the chillest land-- 
And on the strangest Sea-- 
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb--of Me. 


~ Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Patience


"Patience is better than wisdom. An ounce of patience is better than a pound of brains. All men praise patience but few enough can practice it; it is a medicine which is good for all diseases, and therefore every old woman recommends it: but it is not every garden that grows the herbs to make it with. When one's flesh and bones are full of aches and pains, it is as natural for us to murmur as it for a horse to shake his head when the flies tease him, or a wheel to rattle when a spoke is loose; but nature should not be the rule with Christians. Or what is their religion worth?

~ Charles Spurgeon
(John Ploughman's Talk)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Courage

       To live courageously demands wholehearted commitment. Some Christians profess to have the courage to die for Christ, but they lack the courage to live daily for him...... Courage is not just the force behind spectacular public acts. It is also the motivation to carry out private deeds hardly noticeable to others.

--BJU Press - Explorations in Literature

Friday, 23 November 2012

I'm Not Alone

I'm not alone, though others go,
A different way from what I chose;
I'm not alone, though I say "No!"
I know that I will never lose.
I'm not alone though others tease
And urge that I should go their way;
I'm not alone though I displease
My friends by what I'll never say.
I'm not alone, for I now choose-
Though other folks may call me odd,
Tho' now it seems that I might lose-
To go the way that Jesus trod.

                                                 L. E. Dunkin

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Ant and the Cricket






"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe its ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
'A little sleep, a little slumber, 
A little folding of the hands to rest'-
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need ilk an armed man."
Proverbs 6:6-11

    
A silly young cricket, accustomed to sing
Through the warm, sunny months of gay summer and spring, 
Began to complain, when he found that at home 
His cupboard was empty and winter was come.
Not a crumb to be found 
On the snow-covered ground;
Not a flower could he see,
Not a leaf on a tree.
"Oh, what will become,"says the cricket, "of
me?"
At last by starvation and famine made bold,
All dripping with wet and all trembling with
cold,
Away he set off to a miserly ant
To see if, to keep him alive, he would grant 
Him shelter from rain.
A mouthful of grain 
He wished only to borrow,
He'd repay it to-morrow;
If not helped he must die of starvation and sorrow.

Says the ant to the cricket: "I'm your servant and friend,
But we ants never borrow, we ants never lend.
Pray tell me, dear sir, did you lay nothing by
When the weather was warm?" Said the cricket,
"Not I.
My heart was so light
That I sang day ad night,
For all nature looked gay,"

"You sang, sir, you say? 
Go then," said the ant, "and sing winter away."

Thus ending, he hastily lifted the wicket
and out of the door turned the poor little cricket.
Though this is a fable, the moral is good-
If you live without work, you must live without food.


                                                                                         -Anonymous


Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Spider and the Fly



Flattery means praising insincerely, not meaning it, so that the other person will like you. 

A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Proverbs 26:28

A man that flattereth his neighbor, spreadeth a net for his feet.
Proverbs 29:5


"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the spider to the fly.
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show you when you're there."

"Oh, no, no," said the little Fly, "To ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair, can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with souring up so high.
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the spider to the fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest a while, I'll snugly tuck you in!"

"Oh, no, no,"said the little fly, "For I've often heard it said, 
They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning spider to the fly; "Dear friend, what can I do 
To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please to take a slice?"

"Oh, no, no,"said the little fly; "Kind sir that cannot be:
I've heard what's in you pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!"said the spider, "You're witty and you're wise; 
How handsome are your gauzy wings; how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking glass upon my parlour shelf;
If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."

I thank you, gentle sir,"she said, "For what you're pleased to say, 
And, bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle wed in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine apron the fly;
Then came out to his door again and merrily did sing:

"Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple; there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! How very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, than near and nearer grew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes and green and purple hue,
Thinking only of her crested head. Poor, foolish thing! At last
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast;
He dragged her up his winding stair, into the dismal den - 
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words I pray you ne'er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the spider and the fly.


                                                                                  - Mary Howitt

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Butterfly and The Caterpillar





A butterfly, one summer morn,
Sat on a spray of a blossoming thorn
And, as he sipped and drank his share
Of honey from the flowered air,
Below, upon the garden wall,
A caterpillar chanced to crawl.
"Horrors!" The butterfly exclaimed,
"This must be stopped! I am ashamed
That each as I should have to be
In the same world with such as he.
Preserve me from such hideous things!
Disgusting shape! Were are his wings!
Fuzzy and gray! Eater of clay!
Won't someone take the worm away!"

The caterpillar hunched ahead,
But as he munched a leaf, he said,
"Eight days ago, young butterfly,
you wormed about, the same as I.
Within a fortnight from today
Two wings will bear me far away
To brighter blooms and lovelier lures,
With colors that out rival yours.
So, flutter-flit, be not so proud;
Each caterpillar is endowed
With power to make him, by and by,
A blithe and brilliant butterfly.
While you, who scorn the common clay,
You, in your livery so gay,
And all the gaudy moths, and millers,
Are only dressed up caterpillars"


                                                Joseph Lauren

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence



Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in his hand.
Christ our God to earth descended, 
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for Heav'nly food.

Rank on rank the Host of Heaven,
Spreads its vanguard on the way.
As the Light of lights descended
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord most High.


Liturgy of St. James
5th Century
Art by Rembrandt

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Life's Clock


See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools
but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16 


The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just were the hands will stop - 
At late or early hour.

To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss 
As no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
Live for Christ with a will;
Place no faith in tomorrow,
For the clock may then be still.

                              

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Showing Favoritism

  


 “For there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11

 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 
  James 2:9

In Greek mythology, Paris was called to judge who of three goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera, and Pallas Athene, was the fairest. Eris, the goddess of discord, started the trouble when she appeared at a wedding, and threw a golden apple inscribed ‘For the Fairest’. The result was a disrupted wedding and later a war, as Paris abducted Helen to Troy. The gods were unable to make the decision, and Paris' task was not easy. Hera offered him wealth and power, and Athene promised honour and glory, but the ultimate bribe came from Aphrodite: with the promise of Helen, the most beautiful woman on earth, for his wife, Paris ended this beauty contest in favour of Aphrodite.
Like the ancient Greeks, we moderns ascribe high value to beauty and, like them, we have been unable to determine the concept of beauty. Almost everybody is involved in the pursuit of beauty. Its significance for the individual can be judged by the time spent in the gym and in front of the mirror. To a great extent, advertising tells us who we are and who we should be. It tells us that  the most important thing about women is how we look. The first thing the advertisers do is surround us with the image of ideal female beauty so we all learn how important it is for a women to be beautiful and exactly what it takes. Computer technology has progressed so much-(Photoshop) that  it is able to retouch these images, and make them unrealistic, unhuman, and impossible to achieve. This “Perfect beauty” is just an illusion. Yet, young and old try to achieve this unachievable standard, that our culture has imposed on us.
Throughout history women have done some horrible things to themselves in order to fit in their culture’s idea of “Beauty.”
   Ancient Egyptians used burnt matches to darken their eyes, berries to stain their lips, and young boy’s urine to fade their freckles. They even swallowed ox blood in some misguided attempt to improve their complexions. All through the olden days, women put their health at risk with many of their homemade cosmetics.  In some cultures for example, women used arsenic, lead, mercury, and even leeches to give themselves the pale appearance deemed beautiful in former times.
   Japanese women in the 3rd Century lacquered their teeth black with a blend of iron filings, oak apples, and sake or tea.
  Romans and Greeks reportedly soaked in bathes of crocodile feces and mud for soft skin.The Greek physician Galen, who also made the first cold cream, notes that, “Ladies dedicated to luxury” preferred a crocodile dung mask.
   The moulding of the skull and the practice of head flattening was common among Mayan Society. The head was flattened by putting the new born infant’s head between 2 wooden boards creating a mouse trap like cradle, held in place with bindings. The soft skull slowly moulded to the cultural beauty ideal of flatness and after a few years the boards were removed permanently.  Elongated heads have been as popular as flattened heads. A Congo woman with an elongated head would be thought very beautiful by her people.  A Chad woman would have had her lips supported and stretched by metal rings since early childhood. In adulthood her stretched lips would express ultimate beauty.
 
A Georgian Woman
      Women of the Georgian High Society (England 1740-1830)  looked beautiful in their satins and silks, but they hardly ever washed themselves. Because sanitation was still quite uncommon, they preferred to douse their clothes, their bodies, and their belongings in toilet waters and perfumes. They wore scented pomanders and carried small perfume bottles about in their person. False hair was commonly used and It took a long time  to dress their hair  exceedingly  high.  They expected it to last at least a week, preferably longer, and often slept sitting  to keep the style in place. Since hygiene was poor, lice in their hair, and everlasting headaches became a fact of life. They had false teeth, hair, bosoms, calves, and induced large eyes which they made to falsely dilate by using Belladonna taken from the deadly nightshade plant. They were a walking deception.
A Victorian Woman
  Some time later, Victorian women had to endure much pain and suffering, because of an article of clothing called a “corset.” They “Trained” their waist over a period of a few years, by gradual increments of the lacing. Some went so far that they could only breathe with the top part of their lungs. This caused the bottom part of their lungs to fill with mucus, symptoms of this include a slight but persistent cough and heavy breathing causing a heaving appearance of the bosom It would take about a year of not wearing a corset for the internal organs to settle back to their normal positions.

 Perhaps the most horrible of all was the foot binding.
Chinese foot binding shoes
In China, until about a Century ago, small, dainty feet were considered beautiful. The desire to “be beautiful” went as far as to break and bind their baby girl’s feet  with meters of cloth to stop them from growing so that they would resemble a “three-inch golden lotus” at a time when normal big feet were considered alien to feudal virtues. The process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to develop fully, usually between the ages of two and five. To enable the size of the feet to be reduced, the toes on each foot were curled under, then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes broke.  The broken toes were held tightly against the sole of the foot while the foot was then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch forcibly broken. This was all carried out without the use of pain relief, and was extremely painful for the girl being bound. The actual binding of the feet was then begun. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the toes, under the foot, and round the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot.  When the binding was completed, the girl was required to stand on her freshly broken and bound feet to further crush them into shape.
The girl's broken feet required a great deal of care and attention, and they would be unbound regularly.  Whilst unbound, the girl's feet were often beaten, especially on the soles, to ensure that her feet remained broken and flexible. This unbinding and rebinding ritual was repeated as often as possible. For the rich at least once daily, but, for poor peasants two or three times a week.
The most common problem with bound feet was infection. Despite the amount of care taken in regularly trimming the toenails, they would often in-grow, becoming infected and causing injuries to the toes. Sometimes for this reason the girl's toenails would be peeled back and removed altogether.  If the infection in the feet and toes entered the bones, it could cause them to soften, which could result in toes dropping off — occasionally, this was seen as a positive, as the feet could then be bound even more tightly. Girls whose toes were more fleshy would sometimes have shards of glass or pieces of broken tiles inserted within the binding next to her feet and between her toes to cause injury and introduce infection deliberately. Disease inevitably followed infection, meaning that death from septic shock could result from foot-binding, but a surviving girl was more at risk for medical problems as she grew older.
   The standards of beauty have changed over time, based on changing cultural values. What is considered beautiful in the eyes of one race may be thought shocking in the next.
    But the question that comes to mind is “Why?”  Why will women suffer for the sake of beauty?  Why will they do just about anything and everything to fit into their culture’s idea of “Beauty?”
Could it be because we react more favorably to physically attractive people (According to our understanding of attractiveness)?
    Well, studies show that attractive people have distinct advantages in their community.
    In our society attractive children are more popular, with classmates and teachers included. Teachers give higher evaluation to the work of more attractive children. Attractive applicants have a better chance of getting jobs, and of receiving higher salaries. In court, attractive people are found guilty less often. When found guilty, they receive less severe sentences. We think beauty is good. This is showing favoritism. It is very wrong. I know I have been guilty of favoritism, and judging by the outward appearance myself, and I think it is very easy for anyone to fall into it without realizing it.

 We look on the outward appearance. We are very partial. We tend to put everyone in to some kind of category lower or higher than other people. It has to do with their looks and outward appearance, their wardrobe, the car they drive, house they live in, etc... All of those things are non-issues with God.They are of no significance at all. They mean absolutely nothing to Him. He is absolutely and totally impartial in dealing with people.
And neither should we.