Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Wayfaring Song


O who will walk a mile with me
Along life's merry way?
A comrade blithe and full of glee,
Who dares to laugh out loud and free
And let his frolic fancy play,
Like a happy child, through the flowers gay
That fill the field and fringe the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

And who will walk a mile with me
Along life's weary way?
A friend whose heart has eyes to see
The stars shine out o'er the darkening lea,
And the quiet rest at the end o' the day-
A friend who knows, and dares to say,
The brave, sweet words that cheer the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

With such a comrade, such a friend,
I fain would walk till journey's end,
Through summer sunshine, winter rain,
And then? - Farewell, we shall meet again!


Credits: Henry van Dyke

Memory

Friday, June 7, 2013

Best Friends Day


Two friends are arrested and imprisoned by police for a crime. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of speaking to or exchanging messages with the other. The police admit they don't have enough evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They plan to sentence both to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the police offer each prisoner a bargain. If one testifies against his partner, he will go free while the partner will get three years in prison on the main charge. Now, here is the catch - if both prisoners testify against each other during the interrogation, both will be sentenced to two years in jail.

If both friends maintain the trust and don’t betray each other, they both rewarded handsomely – they don’t get in trouble and they also maintain their friendship. If they betray each other, there’s a smaller reward for both of them – they don’t get into additional trouble, but they've lost their friendship.

On the other hand, if one of them betrays and the other one does not, the betrayer loses a friendship while the other friend not only loses a friendship but also receives additional punishment.

In this instance, the upside and the downside for not ratting out the friend is much larger than the upside and the downside of betrayal.

What do you do if you were in such a situation?

Best friends never betray each other - they value their friendship and relationship more than anything the world can offer.

June 8th, is National Best Friends Day. If you get a moment, pick up that phone and talk to your best friend for a minute or so. Else, send a note, or a hug. Wish him/her good and thank God for a friend. Remember - if we live on this planet for 80 years (which seems so long), we would have spent just little over 29,200 days (out of which we spend half the time sleeping!).

Happy Best Friends Day.


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One memory

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fountain of youth



Among the Spaniards who flocked to America in the hope of finding gold, there was a certain officer whose name was Juan Ponce de Leon. He had distinguished himself in the Spanish army and was very rich. He also had much influence with the king - so much, in fact, that he was soon appointed governor of all the eastern part of Haiti.

While attending to his duties in Haiti, he learned that at some distance farther eastward there was a rich island abounding in gold and other precious metals. The Indians called this island Borinquen; it was the same land which Columbus had discovered a few years before and called Porto Rico.

Ponce de Leon was so much pleased by the reports which were brought to him of the great wealth of Porto Rico that he at once made up his mind to get that wealth for himself. The king of Spain was very willing to please him and to have a share of the profits, and therefore appointed him governor of Porto Rico. Ponce was not a man to waste time in any undertaking. With eight stanch ships and several hundred men, he at once set sail for his new province and in due time landed upon the island.

The natives were kind and gentle. They welcomed the white men to their pleasant country and tried to help them in such ways as they could. Ponce de Leon repaid them as the Spaniards at that time usually repaid a kindness,—he robbed them of all they had and made slaves of as many as he could. Then at length the harassed savages turned against their oppressors and tried to drive them from the island; but what could they do against enemies so cunning and strong?

Ponce was as heartless and unfeeling as any wild beast. Soon the once happy island was filled with distress and terror. The Indians were hunted from their homes. Thousands of them were killed, and the rest became the slaves of their conquerors.

Ponce began to form a settlement at a place now called Pueblo Viejo; but he soon changed his plans and removed to a fine harbor on the north shore of the island. There he laid out the city of San Juan. He built for himself, near the mouth of the harbor, a grand house which he called Casa Blanca, or the White Castle; and there he made his home for some time.

But, with all his wealth, Ponce was not happy. He had lived so carelessly and wildly that his youth went from him early. At fifty years of age he was a miserable old man. There was no more joy in the world for him.

One day as he was sitting unhappy in the White Castle, a thing occurred that kindled a spark of hope in his despairing mind. He overheard an Indian slave say, "In Bimini no one grows old."

"Bimini! What is Bimini?" he asked.

"It is a beautiful island that lies far, far to the north of us," was the answer.

"Tell me about it."

"There is a fountain there, a spring of clear water, the most wonderful in the world. Every one that bathes in it becomes as young and strong as he was in his best days. No one grows old in Bimini."

"Have you ever been there?"

"Ah, no. It is too far away for any of our people to make the voyage. But we have heard talk of the fountain all our lives."

Ponce asked other Indians about Bimini and its magic fountain. All had heard of it. It. was a land fragrant with flowers. It lay far to the northwest - too far for frail canoes to venture. But the great ships of the white men could easily make the voyage in a few days.

Ponce made up his mind to discover the fountain. He first got the king's permission to conquer Bimini, wherever it might be. Then with three ships and a number of followers he sailed toward the northwest. He passed through the great group of islands known as the Bahamas; and, wherever there were natives living, he stopped and made inquiries.

"Where is Bimini? Where is the magic fountain of youth?"

They pointed to the northwest. It was always a little farther and a little farther. No one had ever seen the fountain, but Ponce understood that every one had heard of it.

At length, after leaving the Bahamas far behind them, the Spaniards discovered a strange coast where the land seemed to be covered with flowers. Was this Bimini?

Nobody could tell. The coast stretched so far northward and southward that Ponce felt sure it was no island but the mainland of a continent. The day was Easter Sunday, which in Spain is called Pascua de Flores, or the Feast of Flowers. For this reason, and also because of the abundance of flowers, the Spaniards named the land Florida.

Ponce de Leon went on shore at many places and sought for the wonderful fountain. He drank from every clear spring. He bathed in many a limpid stream. But his lost youth did not come back to him.

He sailed southward and around to the western coast of Florida, asking everywhere, "Is this Bimini? And where is the fountain of youth?"

But the Indians who lived there had never heard of Bimini, and they knew of no fountain of youth. And so, at last, the search was given up, and Ponce returned disappointed to Porto Rico.

Nine years passed, and then he sailed again for Florida. This time he took a number of men with him in order to conquer the country and seize upon whatever treasures he might find there. More than this, he expected to explore its woods and rivers and seek again for the mysterious fountain of youth.

The Florida Indians did not have any treasures; but they were brave and loved their homes. They would not be conquered and enslaved without a struggle. They therefore fell upon the Spaniards when they landed, and drove them back to their ships.

Ponce de Leon was struck by an arrow. He was wounded in the thigh.

"Take me back to Spain," said he, "for I shall never find the fountain of youth."

His ship carried him to Cuba; but no skill could heal his wound. He lingered in pain for a long time, and then died, bewailing his lost youth.

-----
Where else can we find the fountain of youth?
To me, the One who stays young forever is the Holy Spirit. When we embrace the Holy Spirit, our own spirit has found the fountain of youth.

The Bible, confirms it in Psalms 36: 5-9

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

.. and in Proverbs 10: 11
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life

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Culture


Two Americans were vacationing in India, and hiking through a jungle. One afternoon, they came across a hungry tiger who was about to chase them.

Soon, one of the guys sat down and tightened his shoe lace. The other asked, "Do you really think you can run faster than this tiger?"

The first American replied, " I don't have to run faster than the tiger. Instead, all I have to do is just run faster than you."

No doubt, the two of them were well versed with the culture of Corporate America.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Recipe for poison


After marrying the man she loved dearly, a young beautiful woman lived together with her mother in law. In just a short time, she realized that there were clashes and difference in opinion between them. The mother in law always managed to find flaws in almost everything that her daughter in law did. Debates and arguments  took place almost everyday. Unfortunately, the husband could not do much to improve the situation.

The daughter in law had reached her patience limit. Day by day, revenge and anger poisoned her mind and thoughts. Thus, she went to her  father's best friend who was a medicine man. She told him all about her sadness and grieved in tears. She desired him to prescribe a strong dose of poison so that she can take revenge on her mother in law. After being in deep thought, the uncle smiled and said, "I will give you the poison medicine but you have to administer it precisely as I instruct you to."

The woman agreed and was willing to do anything to get her revenge.

The uncle asked the woman to return in couple of days while he prepared the poison. When she returned, he said, "My dear, I wont let you use a quick reactive poison. People around you will be very suspicious of you with her sudden dying. Instead, I suggest you use slow poisoning. Mix the poison I give you little bit by bit into her meals. And do not forget, you have to cook the meal yourself. Just to make sure nobody will suspect you later on, you must treat your mother in law better in the days to come. Treat her with love, respect and show your big heart by not arguing, just give in to her. Treat your mother in law as if she were your own mother. Not to mention, hide this poison at a safe place."

The woman went home, obeyed and did precisely what the uncle instructed. Everyday, she spoiled her mother in law by cooking all her favorite dishes and served her with all respect and compassion. Without realizing it, six months had passed, and a big change took place. Being treated with such respect and affection, the mother in law was touched and changed her behavior towards her. Things turned around, she started to treat her daughter in law as her own one and loved her more and more every day.

Seeing the changes in her mother in law, the daughter rushed to see the uncle, "Please uncle, give me the antidote for the poison that you gave me sometime ago. After doing what you told me, now my mother in law is treating me so well and with full of love. I also started loving her. I don't want her to die from the poison that I've been giving her everyday."

The wise uncle just smiled and answered, "My dear, don't worry a bit. The medicine that I gave you was not a poison at all. In reality, it was a tonic to enhance body strength instead."

The flabbergasted woman was speechless.

The uncle continued, "So the real poison actually is what used to dwell in your head - your attitudes towards your mother in law. And now all of that poison has been wiped away by love and affection that you have showered her."

Moral: The best way to destroy an enemy is to become his/her friend.

In Romans, chapter 12, it says,

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Beauty of Form and Beauty of Mind



There was once a sculptor, named Alfred, who having won the large gold medal and obtained a travelling scholarship, went to Italy, and then came back to his native land. He was young at that time- indeed, he is young still, although he is ten years older than he was then.

On his return, he went to visit one of the little towns in the island of Zealand. The whole town knew who the stranger was; and one of the richest men in the place gave a party in his honor, and all who were of any consequence, or who possessed some property, were invited. It was quite an event, and all the town knew of it, so that it was not necessary to announce it by beat of drum. Apprentice-boys, children of the poor, and even the poor people themselves, stood before the house, watching the lighted windows; and the watchman might easily fancy he was giving a party also, there were so many people in the streets. There was quite an air of festivity about it, and the house was full of it; for Mr. Alfred, the sculptor, was there. He talked and told anecdotes, and every one listened to him with pleasure, not unmingled with awe; but none felt so much respect for him as did the elderly widow of a naval officer. She seemed, so far as Mr. Alfred was concerned, to be like a piece of fresh blotting-paper that absorbed all he said and asked for more. She was very appreciative, and incredibly ignorant—a kind of female Gaspar Hauser.

“I should like to see Rome,” she said; “it must be a lovely city, or so many foreigners would not be constantly arriving there. Now, do give me a description of Rome. How does the city look when you enter in at the gate?”

“I cannot very well describe it,” said the sculptor; “but you enter on a large open space, in the centre of which stands an obelisk, which is a thousand years old.”

“An organist!” exclaimed the lady, who had never heard the word ‘obelisk.’ Several of the guests could scarcely forbear laughing, and the sculptor would have had some difficulty in keeping his countenance, but the smile on his lips faded away; for he caught sight of a pair of dark-blue eyes close by the side of the inquisitive lady. They belonged to her daughter; and surely no one who had such a daughter could be silly. The mother was like a fountain of questions; and the daughter, who listened but never spoke, might have passed for the beautiful maid of the fountain. How charming she was! She was a study for the sculptor to contemplate, but not to converse with; for she did not speak, or, at least, very seldom.

“Has the pope a great family?” inquired the lady.

The young man answered considerately, as if the question had been a different one, “No; he does not come from a great family.”

“That is not what I asked,” persisted the widow; “I mean, has he a wife and children?”

“The pope is not allowed to marry,” replied the gentleman.

“I don’t like that,” was the lady’s remark.

She certainly might have asked more sensible questions; but if she had not been allowed to say just what she liked, would her daughter have been there, leaning so gracefully on her shoulder, and looking straight before her, with a smile that was almost mournful on her face?

Mr. Alfred again spoke of Italy, and of the glorious colors in Italian scenery; the purple hills, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, the azure of southern skies, whose brightness and glory could only be surpassed in the north by the deep-blue eyes of a maiden; and he said this with a peculiar intonation; but she who should have understood his meaning looked quite unconscious of it, which also was charming.

“Beautiful Italy!” sighed some of the guests.

“Oh, to travel there!” exclaimed others.

“Charming! Charming!” echoed from every voice.

“I may perhaps win a hundred thousand dollars in the lottery,” said the naval officer’s widow; “and if I do, we will travel—I and my daughter; and you, Mr. Alfred, must be our guide. We can all three travel together, with one or two more of our good friends.” And she nodded in such a friendly way at the company, that each imagined himself to be the favored person who was to accompany them to Italy. “Yes, we must go,” she continued; “but not to those parts where there are robbers. We will keep to Rome. In the public roads one is always safe.”

The daughter sighed very gently; and how much there may be in a sigh, or attributed to it! The young man attributed a great deal of meaning to this sigh. Those deep-blue eyes, which had been lit up this evening in honor of him, must conceal treasures, treasures of heart and mind, richer than all the glories of Rome; and so when he left the party that night, he had lost it completely to the young lady. The house of the naval officer’s widow was the one most constantly visited by Mr. Alfred, the sculptor. It was soon understood that his visits were not intended for that lady, though they were the persons who kept up the conversation. He came for the sake of the daughter. They called her Kæla. Her name was really Karen Malena, and these two names had been contracted into the one name Kæla. She was really beautiful; but some said she was rather dull, and slept late of a morning.

“She has been accustomed to that,” her mother said. “She is a beauty, and they are always easily tired. She does sleep rather late; but that makes her eyes so clear.”

What power seemed to lie in the depths of those dark eyes! The young man felt the truth of the proverb, “Still waters run deep:” and his heart had sunk into their depths. He often talked of his adventures, and the mamma was as simple and eager in her questions as on the first evening they met. It was a pleasure to hear Alfred describe anything. He showed them colored plates of Naples, and spoke of excursions to Mount Vesuvius, and the eruptions of fire from it. The naval officer’s widow had never heard of them before.

“Good heavens!” she exclaimed. “So that is a burning mountain; but is it not very dangerous to the people who live near it?”

“Whole cities have been destroyed,” he replied; “for instance, Herculaneum and Pompeii.”

“Oh, the poor people! And you saw all that with your own eyes?”

“No; I did not see any of the eruptions which are represented in those pictures; but I will show you a sketch of my own, which represents an eruption I once saw.”

He placed a pencil sketch on the table; and mamma, who had been over-powered with the appearance of the colored plates, threw a glance at the pale drawing and cried in astonishment, “What, did you see it throw up white fire?”

For a moment, Alfred’s respect for Kæla’s mamma underwent a sudden shock, and lessened considerably; but, dazzled by the light which surrounded Kæla, he soon found it quite natural that the old lady should have no eye for color. After all, it was of very little consequence; for Kæla’s mamma had the best of all possessions; namely, Kæla herself.

Alfred and Kæla were betrothed, which was a very natural result; and the betrothal was announced in the newspaper of the little town. Mama purchased thirty copies of the paper, that she might cut out the paragraph and send it to friends and acquaintances. The betrothed pair were very happy, and the mother was happy too. She said it seemed like connecting herself with Thorwalsden.

“You are a true successor of Thorwalsden,” she said to Alfred; and it seemed to him as if, in this instance, mamma had said a clever thing. Kæla was silent; but her eyes shone, her lips smiled, every movement was graceful,—in fact, she was beautiful; that cannot be repeated too often. Alfred decided to take a bust of Kæla as well as of her mother. They sat to him accordingly, and saw how he moulded and formed the soft clay with his fingers.

“I suppose it is only on our account that you perform this common-place work yourself, instead of leaving it to your servant to do all that sticking together.”

“It is really necessary that I should mould the clay myself,” he replied.

“Ah, yes, you are always so polite,” said mamma, with a smile; and Kæla silently pressed his hand, all soiled as it was with the clay.

Then he unfolded to them both the beauties of Nature, in all her works; he pointed out to them how, in the scale of creation, inanimate matter was inferior to animate nature; the plant above the mineral, the animal above the plant, and man above them all. He strove to show them how the beauty of the mind could be displayed in the outward form, and that it was the sculptor’s task to seize upon that beauty of expression, and produce it in his works. Kæla stood silent, but nodded in approbation of what he said, while mamma-in-law made the following confession:—

“It is difficult to follow you; but I go hobbling along after you with my thoughts, though what you say makes my head whirl round and round. Still I contrive to lay hold on some of it.”

Kæla’s beauty had a firm hold on Alfred; it filled his soul, and held a mastery over him. Beauty beamed from Kæla’s every feature, glittered in her eyes, lurked in the corners of her mouth, and pervaded every movement of her agile fingers. Alfred, the sculptor, saw this. He spoke only to her, thought only of her, and the two became one; and so it may be said she spoke much, for he was always talking to her; and he and she were one. Such was the betrothal, and then came the wedding, with bride’s-maids and wedding presents, all duly mentioned in the wedding speech. Mamma-in-law had set up Thorwalsden’s bust at the end of the table, attired in a dressing-gown; it was her fancy that he should be a guest. Songs were sung, and cheers given; for it was a gay wedding, and they were a handsome pair. “Pygmalion loved his Galatea,” said one of the songs.

“Ah, that is some of your mythologies,” said mamma-in-law.

Next day the youthful pair started for Copenhagen, where they were to live; mamma-in-law accompanied them, to attend to the “coarse work,” as she always called the domestic arrangements. Kæla looked like a doll in a doll’s house, for everything was bright and new, and so fine. There they sat, all three; and as for Alfred, a proverb may describe his position—he looked like a swan amongst the geese. The magic of form had enchanted him; he had looked at the casket without caring to inquire what it contained, and that omission often brings the greatest unhappiness into married life. The casket may be injured, the gilding may fall off, and then the purchaser regrets his bargain.

In a large party it is very disagreeable to find a button giving way, with no studs at hand to fall back upon; but it is worse still in a large company to be conscious that your wife and mother-in-law are talking nonsense, and that you cannot depend upon yourself to produce a little ready wit to carry off the stupidity of the whole affair.

The young married pair often sat together hand in hand; he would talk, but she could only now and then let fall a word in the same melodious voice, the same bell-like tones. It was a mental relief when Sophy, one of her friends, came to pay them a visit. Sophy was not, pretty. She was, however, quite free from any physical deformity, although Kæla used to say she was a little crooked; but no eye, save an intimate acquaintance, would have noticed it. She was a very sensible girl, yet it never occurred to her that she might be a dangerous person in such a house. Her appearance created a new atmosphere in the doll’s house, and air was really required, they all owned that. They felt the want of a change of air, and consequently the young couple and their mother travelled to Italy.

“Thank heaven we are at home again within our own four walls,” said mamma-in-law and daughter both, on their return after a year’s absence.

“There is no real pleasure in travelling,” said mamma; “to tell the truth, it’s very wearisome; I beg pardon for saying so. I was soon very tired of it, although I had my children with me; and, besides, it’s very expensive work travelling, very expensive. And all those galleries one is expected to see, and the quantity of things you are obliged to run after! It must be done, for very shame; you are sure to be asked when you come back if you have seen everything, and will most likely be told that you’ve omitted to see what was best worth seeing of all. I got tired at last of those endless Madonnas; I began to think I was turning into a Madonna myself.”

“And then the living, mamma,” said Kæla.

“Yes, indeed,” she replied, “no such a thing as a respectable meat soup—their cookery is miserable stuff.”

The journey had also tired Kæla; but she was always fatigued, that was the worst of it. So they sent for Sophy, and she was taken into the house to reside with them, and her presence there was a great advantage. Mamma-in-law acknowledged that Sophy was not only a clever housewife, but well-informed and accomplished, though that could hardly be expected in a person of her limited means. She was also a generous-hearted, faithful girl; she showed that thoroughly while Kæla lay sick, fading away. When the casket is everything, the casket should be strong, or else all is over. And all was over with the casket, for Kæla died.

“She was beautiful,” said her mother; “she was quite different from the beauties they call ‘antiques,’ for they are so damaged. A beauty ought to be perfect, and Kæla was a perfect beauty.”

Alfred wept, and mamma wept, and they both wore mourning. The black dress suited mamma very well, and she wore mourning the longest. She had also to experience another grief in seeing Alfred marry again, marry Sophy, who was nothing at all to look at. “He’s gone to the very extreme,” said mamma-in-law; “he has gone from the most beautiful to the ugliest, and he has forgotten his first wife. Men have no constancy. My husband was a very different man,—but then he died before me.”

“‘Pygmalion loved his Galatea,’ was in the song they sung at my first wedding,” said Alfred; “I once fell in love with a beautiful statue, which awoke to life in my arms; but the kindred soul, which is a gift from heaven, the angel who can feel and sympathize with and elevate us, I have not found and won till now. You came, Sophy, not in the glory of outward beauty, though you are even fairer than is necessary. The chief thing still remains. You came to teach the sculptor that his work is but dust and clay only, an outward form made of a material that decays, and that what we should seek to obtain is the ethereal essence of mind and spirit. Poor Kæla! our life was but as a meeting by the way-side; in yonder world, where we shall know each other from a union of mind, we shall be but mere acquaintances.”

“That was not a loving speech,” said Sophy, “nor spoken like a Christian. In a future state, where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage, but where, as you say, souls are attracted to each other by sympathy; there everything beautiful develops itself, and is raised to a higher state of existence: her soul will acquire such completeness that it may harmonize with yours, even more than mine, and you will then once more utter your first rapturous exclamation of your love, ‘Beautiful, most beautiful!’”


Credits: Hans Christian Andersen

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trust with life

Cornelia's Jewels


One bright morning in the old city of Rome many hundred years ago, in a vine-covered summer-house in a beautiful garden, two boys were standing. They were looking at their mother and her friend, who were walking among the flowers and trees.

"Did you ever see such a beautiful lady as our mother's friend?" asked the younger boy, holding his tall brother's hand. "She looks like a queen."

"Yet she is not so beautiful as our mother," said the elder boy. "She has a fine dress, it is true; but her face is not noble and kind. It is our mother who is like a queen."

"That is true," said the other. "There is no woman in Rome so much like a queen as our own dear mother."

Soon Cornelia, their mother, came down the walk to speak with them. She was simply dressed in a plain white robe. Her arms and feet were bare, as was the custom in those days; and no rings nor chains glittered about her hands and neck. For her only crown, long braids of soft brown hair were coiled about her head; and a tender smile lit up her noble face as she looked into her sons' proud eyes.

"Boys," she said, "I have something to tell you."

They bowed before her, as Roman lads were taught to do, and said, "What is it, mother?"

"You are to dine with us to-day, here in the garden; and then our friend is going to show us that wonderful casket of jewels of which you have heard so much."

The brothers looked shyly at their mother's friend. Was it possible that she had still other rings besides those on her fingers? Could she have other gems besides those which sparkled in the chains about her neck?

When the simple outdoor meal was over, a servant brought the casket from the house. The lady opened it. Ah, how those jewels dazzled the eyes of the wondering boys! There were ropes of pearls, white as milk, and smooth as satin; heaps of shining rubies, red as the glowing coals; sapphires as blue as the sky that summer day; and diamonds that flashed and sparkled like the sunlight.

The brothers looked long at the gems.

"Ah!" whispered the younger; "if our mother could only have such beautiful things!"

At last, however, the casket was closed and carried carefully away.

"Is it true, Cornelia, that you have no jewels?" asked her friend. "Is it true, as I have heard it whispered by your boys, that you are poor?"

"No, I am not poor," answered Cornelia, and as she spoke she drew her two boys to her side; "for here are my jewels. They are worth more than all your gems."

The boys never forgot their mother's pride and love and care; and in after years, when they had become great men in Rome, they often thought of this scene in the garden.

Moral: Loved ones are precious than jewels.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Butterfly that Stamped


This, O my Best Beloved, is a story - a new and a wonderful story - a story quite different from the other stories - a story about The Most Wise Sovereign Suleiman-bin-Daoud, the Son of David.

There are three hundred and fifty-five stories about Suleiman- bin-Daoud; but this is not one of them. It is not the story of the Lapwing who found the Water; or the Hoopoe who shaded Suleimanbin-Daoud from the heat. It is not the story of the Glass Pavement, or the Ruby with the Crooked Hole, or the Gold Bars of Balkis. It is the story of the Butterfly that Stamped.

Now attend all over again and listen!

Suleiman-bin-Daoud was wise. He understood what the beasts said, what the birds said, what the fishes said, and what the insects said. He understood what the rocks said deep under the earth when they bowed in towards each other and groaned; and he understood what the trees said when they rustled in the middle of the morning. He understood everything, from the bishop on the bench to the hyssop on the wall, and Balkis, his Head Queen, the Most Beautiful Queen Balkis, was nearly as wise as he was.

Suleiman-bin-Daoud was strong. Upon the third finger of the right hand he wore a ring. When he turned it once, Afrits and Djinns came Out of the earth to do whatever he told them. When he turned it twice, Fairies came down from the sky to do whatever he told them; and when he turned it three times, the very great angel Azrael of the Sword came dressed as a water-carrier, and told him the news of the three worlds,--Above--Below--and Here.

And yet Suleiman-bin-Daoud was not proud. He very seldom showed off, and when he did he was sorry for it. Once he tried to feed all the animals in all the world in one day, but when the food was ready an animal came out of the deep sea and ate it up in three mouthfuls. Suleiman-bin-Daoud was very surprised and said, 'O Animal, who are you?' And the animal said, 'O King, live for ever! I am the smallest of thirty thousand brothers, and our home is at the bottom of the sea. We heard that you were going to feed all the animals in all the world, and my brothers sent me to ask when dinner would be ready.' Suleiman-bin-Daoud was more surprised than ever and said, 'O Animal, you have eaten all the dinner that I made ready for all the animals in the world.' And the Animal said, 'O King, live for ever, but do you really call that a dinner? Where I come from we each eat twice as much as that between meals.' Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud fell flat on his face and said, 'O Animal! I gave that dinner to show what a great and rich king I was, and not because I really wanted to be kind to the animals. Now I am ashamed, and it serves me right. Suleiman-bin-Daoud was a really truly wise man, Best Beloved. After that he never forgot that it was silly to show off; and now the real story part of my story begins.

He married ever so many wifes. He married nine hundred and ninety-nine wives, besides the Most Beautiful Balkis; and they all lived in a great golden palace in the middle of a lovely garden with fountains. He didn't really want nine-hundred and ninety-nine wives, but in those days everybody married ever so many wives, and of course the King had to marry ever so many more just to show that he was the King.

Some of the wives were nice, but some were simply horrid, and the horrid ones quarrelled with the nice ones and made them horrid too, and then they would all quarrel with Suleiman-bin-Daoud, and that was horrid for him. But Balkis the Most Beautiful never quarrelled with Suleiman-bin-Daoud. She loved him too much. She sat in her rooms in the Golden Palace, or walked in the Palace garden, and was truly sorry for him.

Of course if he had chosen to turn his ring on his finger and call up the Djinns and the Afrits they would have magicked all those nine hundred and ninety-nine quarrelsome wives into white mules of the desert or greyhounds or pomegranate seeds; but Suleiman-bin-Daoud thought that that would be showing off. So, when they quarrelled too much, he only walked by himself in one part of the beautiful Palace gardens and wished he had never been born.

One day, when they had quarrelled for three weeks - all nine hundred and ninety-nine wives together - Suleiman-bin-Daoud went out for peace and quiet as usual; and among the orange trees he met Balkis the Most Beautiful, very sorrowful because Suleiman- bin-Daoud was so worried. And she said to him, 'O my Lord and Light of my Eyes, turn the ring upon your finger and show these Queens of Egypt and Mesopotamia and Persia and China that you are the great and terrible King.' But Suleiman-bin-Daoud shook his head and said, 'O my Lady and Delight of my Life, remember the Animal that came out of the sea and made me ashamed before all the animals in all the world because I showed off. Now, if I showed off before these Queens of Persia and Egypt and Abyssinia and China, merely because they worry me, I might be made even more ashamed than I have been.'

And Balkis the Most Beautiful said, 'O my Lord and Treasure of my Soul, what will you do?'

And Suleiman-bin-Daoud said, 'O my Lady and Content of my Heart, I shall continue to endure my fate at the hands of these nine hundred and ninety-nine Queens who vex me with their continual quarrelling.'

So he went on between the lilies and the loquats and the roses and the cannas and the heavy-scented ginger-plants that grew in the garden, till he came to the great camphor-tree that was called the Camphor Tree of Suleiman-bin-Daoud. But Balkis hid among the tall irises and the spotted bamboos and the red lillies behind the camphor-tree, so as to be near her own true love, Suleiman-bin-Daoud.

Presently two butterflies flew under the tree, quarrelling.

Suleiman-bin-Daoud heard one say to the other, 'I wonder at your presumption in talking like this to me. Don't you know that if I stamped with my foot all Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Palace and this garden here would immediately vanish in a clap of thunder.'

Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud forgot his nine hundred and ninety-nine bothersome wives, and laughed, till the camphor-tree shook, at the Butterfly's boast. And he held out his finger and said, 'Little man, come here.'

The Butterfly was dreadfully frightened, but he managed to fly up to the hand of Suleiman-bin-Daoud, and clung there, fanning himself. Suleiman-bin-Daoud bent his head and whispered very softly, 'Little man, you know that all your stamping wouldn't bend one blade of grass. What made you tell that awful fib to your wife?--for doubtless she is your wife.'

The Butterfly looked at Suleiman-bin-Daoud and saw the most wise King's eye twinkle like stars on a frosty night, and he picked up his courage with both wings, and he put his head on one side and said, 'O King, live for ever. She is my wife; and you know what wives are like.

Suleiman-bin-Daoud smiled in his beard and said, 'Yes, I know, little brother.

'One must keep them in order somehow, said the Butterfly, and she has been quarrelling with me all the morning. I said that to quiet her.'

And Suleiman-bin-Daoud said, 'May it quiet her. Go back to your wife, little brother, and let me hear what you say.'

Back flew the Butterfly to his wife, who was all of a twitter behind a leaf, and she said, 'He heard you! Suleiman-bin-Daoud himself heard you!'

'Heard me!' said the Butterfly. 'Of course he did. I meant him to hear me.'

'And what did he say? Oh, what did he say?'

'Well,' said the Butterfly, fanning himself most importantly, 'between you and me, my dear - of course I don't blame him, because his Palace must have cost a great deal and the oranges are just ripening, - he asked me not to stamp, and I promised I wouldn't.'

'Gracious!' said his wife, and sat quite quiet; but Suleiman-bin-Daoud laughed till the tears ran down his face at the impudence of the bad little Butterfly.

Balkis the Most Beautiful stood up behind the tree among the red lilies and smiled to herself, for she had heard all this talk. She thought, 'If I am wise I can yet save my Lord from the persecutions of these quarrelsome Queens,' and she held out her finger and whispered softly to the Butterfly's Wife, 'Little woman, come here.' Up flew the Butterfly's Wife, very frightened, and clung to Balkis's soft hand.

Balkis bent her beautiful head down and whispered, 'Little woman, do you believe what your husband has just said?'

The Butterfly's Wife looked at Balkis, and saw the most beautiful Queen's eyes shining like deep pools with starlight on them, and she picked up her courage with both wings and said, 'O Queen, be lovely for ever. You know what men-folk are like.'

And the Queen Balkis, the Wise Balkis of Sheba, put her hand to her lips to hide a smile and said, 'Little sister, I know.'

'They get angry,' said the Butterfly's Wife, fanning herself quickly, 'over nothing at all, but we must humour them, O Queen. They never mean half they say. If it pleases my husband to believe that I believe he can make Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Palace disappear by stamping his foot, I'm sure I don't care. He'll forget all about it tomorrow.'

'Little sister,' said Balkis, 'you are quite right; but next time he begins to boast, take him at his word. Ask him to stamp, and see what will happen. We know what men-folk are like, don't we? He'll be very much ashamed.'

Away flew the Butterfly's Wife to her husband, and in five minutes they were quarrelling worse than ever.

'Remember!' said the Butterfly. 'Remember what I can do if I stamp my foot.'

'I don't believe you one little bit,' said the Butterfly's Wife. 'I should very much like to see it done. Suppose you stamp now.'

'I promised Suleiman-bin-Daoud that I wouldn't,' said the Butterfly, 'and I don't want to break my promise.'

'It wouldn't matter if you did,' said his wife. 'You couldn't bend a blade of grass with your stamping. I dare you to do it,' she said. Stamp! Stamp! Stamp!'

Suleiman-bin-Daoud, sitting under the camphor-tree, heard every word of this, and he laughed as he had never laughed in his life before. He forgot all about his Queens; he forgot all about the animal that came out of the sea; he forgot about showing off. He just laughed with joy, and Balkis, on the other side of the tree, smiled because her own true love was so joyful.

Presently the butterfly, very hot and puffy, came whirling back under the shadow of the camphor-tree and said to Suleiman, 'She wants me to stamp! She wants to see what will happen, O Suleiman-bin-Daoud! You know I can't do it, and now she'll never believe a word I say. She'll laugh at me to the end of my days!'

'No, little brother,' said Suleiman-bin-Daoud, 'she will never laugh at you again,' and he turned the ring on his finger - just for the little Butterfly's sake, not for the sake of showing off, - and, lo and behold, four huge Djinns came out of the earth!

'Slaves,' said Suleiman-bin-Daoud, 'when this gentleman on my finger' (that was where the impudent Butterfly was sitting) 'stamps his left front forefoot you will make my Palace and these gardens disappear in a clap of thunder. When he stamps again you will bring them back carefully.'

'Now, little brother,' he said, 'go back to your wife and stamp all you've a mind to.'

Away flew the Butterfly to his wife, who was crying, 'I dare you to do it! I dare you to do it! Stamp! Stamp now! Stamp!' Balkis saw the four vast Djinns stoop down to the four corners of the gardens with the Palace in the middle, and she clapped her hands softly and said, 'At last Suleiman-bin-Daoud will do for the sake of a Butterfly what he ought to have done long ago for his own sake, and the quarrelsome Queens will be frightened!'

The the butterfly stamped. The Djinns jerked the Palace and the gardens a thousand miles into the air: there was a most awful thunder-clap, and everything grew inky-black. The Butterfly's Wife fluttered about in the dark, crying, 'Oh, I'll be good! I'm so sorry I spoke. Only bring the gardens back, my dear darling husband, and I'll never contradict again.'

The Butterfly was nearly as frightened as his wife, and Suleiman-bin-Daoud laughed so much that it was several minutes before he found breath enough to whisper to the Butterfly, 'Stamp again, little brother. Give me back my Palace, most great magician.'

'Yes, give him back his Palace,' said the Butterfly's Wife, still flying about in the dark like a moth. 'Give him back his Palace, and don't let's have any more horrid.magic.'

'Well, my dear,' said the Butterfly as bravely as he could, 'you see what your nagging has led to. Of course it doesn't make any difference to me - I'm used to this kind of thing - but as a favour to you and to Suleiman-bin-Daoud I don't mind putting things right.'

So he stamped once more, and that instant the Djinns let down the Palace and the gardens, without even a bump. The sun shone on the dark-green orange leaves; the fountains played among the pink Egyptian lilies; the birds went on singing, and the Butterfly's Wife lay on her side under the camphor-tree waggling her wings and panting, 'Oh, I'll be good! I'll be good!'

Suleiman-bin-Daolld could hardly speak for laughing. He leaned back all weak and hiccoughy, and shook his finger at the Butterfly and said, 'O great wizard, what is the sense of returning to me my Palace if at the same time you slay me with mirth!'

Then came a terrible noise, for all the nine hundred and ninety-nine Queens ran out of the Palace shrieking and shouting and calling for their babies. They hurried down the great marble steps below the fountain, one hundred abreast, and the Most Wise Balkis went statelily forward to meet them and said, 'What is your trouble, O Queens?'

They stood on the marble steps one hundred abreast and shouted, 'What is our trouble? We were living peacefully in our golden palace, as is our custom, when upon a sudden the Palace disappeared, and we were left sitting in a thick and noisome darkness; and it thundered, and Djinns and Afrits moved about in the darkness! That is our trouble, O Head Queen, and we are most extremely troubled on account of that trouble, for it was a troublesome trouble, unlike any trouble we have known.'

Then Balkis the Most Beautiful Queen - Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Very Best Beloved - Queen that was of Sheba and Sable and the Rivers of the Gold of the South - from the Desert of Zinn to the Towers of Zimbabwe - Balkis, almost as wise as the Most Wise Suleiman-bin-Daoud himself, said, 'It is nothing, O Queens! A Butterfly has made complaint against his wife because she quarreled with him, and it has pleased our Lord Suleiman-bin-Daoud to teach her a lesson in low-speaking and humbleness, for that is counted a virtue among the wives of the butterflies.'

Then up and spoke an Egyptian Queen - the daughter of a Pharoah and she said, 'Our Palace cannot be plucked up by the roots like a leek for the sake of a little insect. No! Suleiman-bin-Daoud must be dead, and what we heard and saw was the earth thundering and darkening at the news.'

Then Balkis beckoned that bold Queen without looking at her, and said to her and to the others, 'Come and see.'

They came down the marble steps, one hundred abreast, and beneath his camphor-tree, still weak with laughing, they saw the Most Wise King Suleiman-bin-Daoud rocking back and forth with a Butterfly on either hand, and they heard him say, 'O wife of my brother in the air, remember after this, to please your husband in all things, lest he be provoked to stamp his foot yet again; for he has said that he is used to this magic, and he is most eminently a great magician - one who steals away the very Palace of Suleirnan-bin-Daoud himself. Go in peace, little folk!' And he kissed them on the wings, and they flew away.

Then all the Queens except Balkis - the Most Beautiful and Splendid Balkis, who stood apart smiling - fell flat on their faces, for they said, 'If these things are done when a butterfly is displeased with his wife, what shall be done to us who have vexed our King with our loud-speaking and open quarreling through many days?'

Then they put their veils over their heads, and they put their hands over their mouths, and they tiptoed back to the Palace most mousy-quiet.

Then Balkis - The Most Beautiful and Excellent Balkis - went forward through the red lilies into the shade of the camphor-tree and laid her hand upon Suleiman-bin-Daoud's shoulder and said, 'O my Lord and Treasure of my Soul, rejoice, for we have taught the Queens of Egypt and Ethiopia and Abyssinia and Persia and India and China with a great and a memorable teaching.'

And Suleiman-bin-Daoud, still looking after the Butterflies where they played in the sunlight, said, 'O my Lady and Jewel of my Felicity, when did this happen? For I have been jesting with a Butterfly ever since I came into the garden.' And he told Balkis what he had done.

Balkis - The tender and Most Lovely Balkis - said, 'O my Lord and Regent of my Existence, I hid behind the camphor-tree and saw it all. It was I who told the Butterfly's wife to ask the butterfly to stamp, because I hoped that for the sake of the jest my Lord would make some great magic and that the Queens would see it and be frightened.' And she told him what the Queens had said and seen and thought.

Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud rose up from his seat under the camphor-tree, and stretched his arms and rejoiced and said, 'O my Lady and Sweetener of my Days, know that if I had made a magic against my Queens for the sake of pride or anger, as I made that feast for all the animals, I should certainly have been put to shame. But by means of your wisdom I made the magic for the sake of a jest and for the sake of a little Butterfly, and - behold - it has also delivered me from the vexations of my vexatious wives! Tell me, therefore, O my Lady and Heart of my Heart, how did you come to be so wise?' And Balkis the Queen, beautiful and tall, looked up into Suleiman-bin-Daoud's eyes and put her head a little on one side, just like the butterfly, and said, 'First, O my Lord, because I loved you; and secondly, O my Lord, because I know what women-folk are.'

Then they went up to the palace and lived happily ever afterwards.

But wasn't it clever of Balkis?

-------
There was never a King like Suleiman-bin-Daoud - known to all of us as King Solomon; not since the world began; but King Solomon talked to a butterfly as a man would talk to a man.

There was never a Queen like Balkis, popularly known as Queen of Sheba, from here to the wide world's end; but Queen of Sheba talked to a butterfly as you would talk to a friend.

While he was Asia's Lord, she was Queen of Sheba. Both of them talked to butterflies, when they took their walks abroad!
------



Credits: Rudyard Kipling

How long


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Empowered Woman



The Empowered Woman, she moves through the world
with a sense of confidence and grace.
Her once reckless spirit now tempered by wisdom.
Quietly, yet firmly, she speaks her truth without doubt or  hesitation
and the life she leads is of her own creation.

She now understands what it means to live and let live.
How much to ask for herself and how much to give.
She has a strong, yet generous heart
and the inner beauty she emanates truly sets her apart.
Like the mythical Phoenix,
she has risen from the ashes and soared to a new plane of existence,
unfettered by the things that once that posed such resistance.

Her senses now heightened, she sees everything so clearly.
She hears the wind rustling through the trees;
beckoning her to live the dreams she holds so dearly.
She feels the softness of her hands
and muses at the strength that they possess.
Her needs and desires she has learned to express.
She has tasted the bitter and savored the sweet fruits of life,
overcome adversity and pushed past heartache and strife.

And the one thing she never understood,
she now knows to be true,
it all begins and ends with you.



Credits: Sonny Carroll