Story Corner

Winning The Cultural War

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. 'My Daddy,' he said, 'pretends to be people.' There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.

If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.

As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: if my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty ... your own freedom of thought ... your own compass for what is right.

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, 'We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.'

Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you ... the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.

Let me back up. About a year ago I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now I serve ... I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from 'ridiculous' and 'duped' to a 'brain-injured, senile, crazy old man'. I know ... I'm pretty old ... but I sure thank the Lord ain't senile.

As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.

For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.

I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.

Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, 'Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using language not authorized for public consumption!'

But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys-subjects bound to the British crown.

In his book, 'The End of Sanity,' Martin Gross writes that 'blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something, without a name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't like it.'

Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation ... all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive.

In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDS -- the state commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not ... need not ... tell their patients that they are infected.

At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team 'The Tribe' because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.

In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.

In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because their last names sound Hispanic.

At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students.

Yeah, I know ... that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said 'Negroes.' Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the March said 'black.' But it's a no-no now.

For me, hyphenated identities are awkward ... particularly 'Native-American.' I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a thirteenth generation Native American ... with a capital letter on 'American.'

Finally, just last month ... David Howard, head of the Washington D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word 'niggardly' while talking to colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, 'niggardly' means stingy or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign.

As columnist Tony Snow wrote: 'David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of niggardly,' (b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance.'

What does all of this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression?

Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason.

You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge.

And as long as you validate that ... and abide it ... you are-by your grandfathers' standards-cowards. Here's another example. Right now at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers.

I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you? Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, 'Don't shoot me.'

If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.

Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation?

The answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people.

You simply ... disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.

I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King ... who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.

Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that Disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Viet Nam.

In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous law that weaken personal freedom.

But be careful ... it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be humiliated ... to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water Cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience discomfort. I'm not Complaining, but my own decades of social activism have taken their toll on me. Let me tell you a story.

A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called 'Cop Killer' celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend.

What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of 'Cop Killer'-every vicious, vulgar, instructional word.

I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF I'm ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF I'm ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF...

It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old nieces Of Al and Tipper Gore. SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY ....'

Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said 'We can't print that.' 'I know,' I replied, 'but Time/Warner ís selling it.'

Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warners, or get a good review from Time magazine. But sisobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.

When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors ... choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment ... march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you ... petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month ... boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.

So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.

If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree. Thank you.

Charlton Heston - February 16, 1999 - Harvard Law School Forum

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Jeremy's Egg

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Theresa's Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Teresa's for a consultation. As the Forrester's sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!" Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke.

"Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here." Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forrester's. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read or write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. "Oh God," she said aloud, "here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy."

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear. The other children snickered, and Doris's face turned red. She stammered, "Wh-Why, that's very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?" "Yes, Miss Miller!" the children responded enthusiastically -- all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their Math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arms. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and turns into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too" Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine." Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. "My Daddy helped me!", he beamed. Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy's, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, Doris replied, "but Jeremy - your egg is empty!" He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty too!" Time stopped. When she could speak again. Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh yes!" Jeremy exclaimed. "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!"

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket . . . all of them empty.

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To Whom It May Concern

I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of a 6 year old again.

I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks. I want to think M&Ms are better than money, because you can eat them. I want to play kickball during recess and paint with watercolors in art. I want to lie under a big Oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summers day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, addition tables and simple nursery rhymes. But that didn't bother you, because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care. When all you knew was to be happy because you didn't know all the things that should make you worried and upset.

I want to think that the world is fair. That everyone in it is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible.

Somewhere in my youth...I matured and I learned too much. I learned of nuclear weapons, war, prejudice, starvation and abused children. I learned of lies, unhappy marriages, suffering, illness, pain and death. I learned of a world where men left their families to go and fight for our country, and returned only to end up living on the streets...begging for their next meal. I learned of a world where children knew how to kill...and did!!

What happened to the time when we thought that everyone would live forever, because we didn't grasp the concept of death? When we thought the worst thing in the world was if someone took the jump rope from you or picked you last for kickball? I want to be oblivious to the complexity of life and be overly excited by little things once again. I want to return to the days when reading was fun and music was clean. When television was used to report the news or for family entertainment and not to promote sex, violence and deceit.

I remember being naive and thinking that everyone was happy because I was. I would walk on the beach and only think of the sand between my toes and the prettiest seashell I could find. I would spend my afternoons climbing trees and riding my bike.

I didn't worry about time, bills or where I was going to find the money to fix my car. I used to wonder what I was going to do or be when I grew up, not worry about what I'll do if this doesn't work out.

I want to live simple again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow. I want to be 6 again.

Author Unknown

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SHMILY

Written by Laura Jeanne Allen - published in Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul

My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "shmily" in a surprise place for the other to find.

They took turns leaving "shmily" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more. They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring. "Shmily" was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath.

At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "shmily" on the very last sheet. There was no end to the places "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. "Shmily" was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace.

This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents' house as the furniture. It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparent's game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love - one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life.

Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky enough to experience. Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old man he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em." Before every meal they bowed heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents' life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared 10 years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that color so she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside. Now the cancer was once again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather's steady hand, they still went to church every Sunday morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore.

For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone. "Shmily." It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother's funeral bouquet.

As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby. Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew then that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty. S-h-m-i-l-y: See How Much I Love You.

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Every Good Deed

When I was in junior high, the eighth-grade bully punched me in the stomach. Not only did it hurt and make me angry, but the embarrassment and humiliation were almost intolerable. I wanted desperately to even the score!

I planned to meet him by the bike racks the next day and let him have it. For some reason, I told my plan to Nana, my grandmother - big mistake. She gave me one of her hour-long lectures (that woman could really talk). The lecture was a total drag, but among other things, I vaguely remember her telling me that I didn't need to worry about him. She said, "Good deeds beget good results, and evil deeds beget bad results."

I told her, in a nice way, of course, that I thought she was full of it. I told her that I did good things all the time, and all I got in return was "baloney!" (I didn't use that word.) She stuck to her guns, though. She said, "Every good deed will come back to you someday, and every bad thing you do will also come back to you."

It took me 30 years to understand the wisdom of her words. Nana was living in a board-and-care home in Laguna Hills, California. Each Tuesday, I came by and took her out to dinner. I would always find her neatly dressed and sitting in a chair right by the front door.

I vividly remember our very last dinner together before she went into the convalescent hospital. We drove to a nearby simple little family-owned restaurant. I ordered pot roast for Nana and a hamburger for myself. The food arrived and as I dug in, I noticed that Nana wasn't eating. She was just staring at the food on her plate.

Moving my plate aside, I took Nana's plate, placed it in front of me, and cut her meat into small pieces. I then placed the plate back in front of her. As she very weakly, and with great difficulty, forked the meat into her mouth, I was struck with a memory that brought instant tears to my eyes.

Forty years previously, as a little boy sitting at the table. Nana had always taken the meat on my plate and cut it into small pieces so I could eat it. It had taken 40 years, but the good deed had been repaid. Nana was right. We reap exactly what we sow. "Every good deed you do will someday come back to you." What about the eighth-grade bully? He ran into the ninth-grade bully.

By Mike Buetelle

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The Smile

Many Americans are familiar with The Little Prince, a wonderful book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This is a whimsical and fabulous book and works as a children's story as well as a thought-provoking adult fable.

Far fewer are aware of Saint Exupery's other writings, novels and short stories. Saint Exupery was a fighter pilot who fought against the Nazis and was killed in action. Before World War II, he fought in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists. He wrote a fascinating story based on that experience entitled The Smile (Le Sourire).

It is this story which I'd like to share with you now. It isn't clear whether or not he meant this to be autobiographical or fiction. I choose to believe it to be the former. He said that he was captured by the enemy and thrown into a jail cell. He was sure that from the contemptuous looks and rough treatment he received from his jailers he would be executed the next day.

From here, I'll tell the story as I remember it in my own words.

"I was sure that I was to be killed. I became terribly nervous and distraught. I fumbled in my pockets to see if there were any cigarettes which had escaped their search. I found one and because of my shaking hands, I could barely get it to my lips. But I had no matches, they had taken those. "I looked through the bars at my jailer. He did not make eye contact with me. After all, one does not make eye contact with a thing, a corpse. I called out to him 'Have you got a light, por favor?' He looked at me, shrugged and came over to light my cigarette. "As he came close and lit the match, his eyes inadvertently locked with mine. At that moment, I smiled. I don't know why I did that. Perhaps it was nervousness, perhaps it was because, when you get very close, one to another, it is very hard not to smile. In any case, I smiled.

In that instant, it was as though a spark jumped across the gap between our two hearts, our two human souls. I know he didn't want to, but my smile leaped through the bars and generated a smile on his lips, too. He lit my cigarette but stayed near, looking at me directly in the eyes and continuing to smile. "I kept smiling at him, now aware of him as a person and not just a jailer. And his looking at me seemed to have a new dimension, too.

'Do you have kids?' he asked. '"Yes, here, here.' I took out my wallet and nervously fumbled for the pictures of my family. He, too, took out the pictures of his ninos and began to talk about his plans and hopes for them. My eyes filled with tears. I said that I feared that I'd never see my family again, never have the chance to see them grow up. Tears came to his eyes, too. "Suddenly, without another word, he unlocked my cell and silently led me out. Out of the jail, quietly and by back routes, out of the town. There, at the edge of town, he released me. And without another word, he turned back toward the town.

"My life was saved by a smile." Yes, the smile - the unaffected, unplanned natural connection between people.

I tell this story in my work because I'd like people to consider that underneath all the layers we construct to protect ourselves, our dignity, our titles, our degrees, our status and our need to be seen in certain ways - underneath all that, remains the authentic, essential self. I'm not afraid to call it the soul. I really believe that if that part of you and that part of me could recognize each other, we wouldn't be enemies. We couldn't have hate or envy or fear. I sadly conclude that all those other layers, which we so carefully construct through our lives, distance and insulate us from truly contacting others.

Saint Exupery's story speaks of that magic moment when two souls recognize each other. I've had just a few moments like that. Falling in love is one example. And looking at a baby. Why do we smile when we see a baby? Perhaps it's because we see someone without all the defensive layers, someone whose smile for us we know to be fully genuine and without guile. And that baby-soul inside us smiles wistfully in recognition.

By Eman8tions

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Thought Of The Day

We don't really need extravagant promises of spectacular rewards or abilities. Inner satisfaction will do just fine.

I can't think of a higher accomplishment.

Trying to win the lottery, hoping to be picked up by aliens and transported to a better world, buying relics to put you in touch with God, developing psychic powers? I don't think so.

Our relationships with others, our family, our friends, our colleagues and coworkers, are the reflection of our spiritual state.

The world is skittering with promises of better things. It's an epidemic of cure alls, weight loss formulas, hair restorer, vitamin this and that, make-up, cool cars, illusions of success, shortcuts.

And if it ain't tempting, it ain't temptation.

There is a whole different thing going when you seek the silences of your soul. That is where you love what you have.

We have to live our way through to this knowledge. Action in the world, experience, life, reveals the truth, finally.

We get it eventually, and oh, is it worth it.

To subscribe to the free Thought of the Day, write to Eman8tions@aol.com

I hope each of you have a special Sunday...as special as each of you are.

Sir Peter of Sedona.

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Good Moral

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed the model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

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The Boy Who Loved Football

Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart.

Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere. At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed. The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father.

His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game.

It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday."

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon. "Coach, please let me play."

"I've just got to play today." Said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in.

"All right," he said. "You can go in." Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard!

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"

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Urgent! Urgent! Urgent!

Please feel these words resounding in the Sacred Space of INNER KNOWING that blazes in the Divinity of your heart.

A FULFILLED NEGATIVE PROPHECY IS A FAILED PROPHECY!!!

The only reason prophecies and visions are revealed through Divine Inspiration is so that Humanity will clearly see how our thoughts, words, actions and feelings are going to affect the future. When negative prophecies are revealed that contain predictions of cataclysmic Earth changes, wars, plagues, pestilence, floods, droughts, famines, economic collapse, violence, human suffering, carnage and every other possible catastrophe they are being given to us for the SOLE PURPOSE of inspiring us to correct our behavior patterns so the negativity will be averted.

As we approach the Millennium, vast numbers of people are resurrecting the prophecies of old and projecting them onto the newly created field of unmanifest potential. Consequently, the old, obsolete prophecies of Global destruction and utter chaos are being revivified and empowered through fear, ignorance and mass hysteria. It is imperative that the Awakening Light Beings on Earth (and that means YOU!) now redouble our efforts and infinitely expand the Truth of what is actually occurring during this Sacred Moment.

We are NOW crossing the threshold of the greatest shift of consciousness ever manifested in the history of the Universe. Never before, in all of Creation, has a Planet that has fallen to the depths of negativity we are experiencing on Earth, been given an opportunity to Ascend into the Light in such a short period of time. We are going through a unique experiment, and we are succeeding God Victoriously. Because of innumerable Activities of Light that have been performed by literally millions of Awakening Light Beings all over the World during the past fifteen years, the cataclysmic prophecies of old HAVE BEEN AVERTED! A New Covenant has been established between Heaven and Earth. Our lower human egos have agreed to relinquish our physical, etheric, mental and emotional bodies to the full dominion of our God Selves. The Elemental Kingdom has agreed to cleanse and purge the polluted body of Mother Earth with as little loss of human life as possible. Humanity, through our God Selves, has agreed to reclaim our Divine Birthright as Stewards of the Earth. We have also agreed to walk hand-in-hand with the Angels and the entire Company of Heaven as together we co-create the full, tangible reality of Heaven on Earth.

At the present time, anything that is not reflecting Divine Love and Reverence for ALL Life, which is the Order of the New Cosmic Day on Earth, is being pushed to the surface to get our attention so that it can be transmuted into Light and healed. This phenomenon creates the illusion that things on Earth are getting worse. People who are unaware of the Truth of what is really occurring on Earth are panicking, and the anxiety, fear, anger, hatred and other dysfunctional emotions are being exacerbated. The end result looks like a World gone amuck.

The Awakening Light Beings, who are aware of what is really happening on Earth, must now come to the rescue. We must delve into the very depths of our Beings and tap the wealth of knowledge and the skills we have developed over eaons of preparation for this very moment. We must invoke the life-transforming Light of God and sustain that Light in, through and around our fellow Human Beings and the Nature Kingdom until every Being Awakens and accepts responsibility for his or her own life. We must not become part of the problem by buying into the illusion and wringing our hands in despair. We must keep informed and anywhere on the face of the Earth where Humanity or the Nature Kingdom is acting out adversely, we must become a Peace-Commanding Presence by invoking the Light of God.

As we invoke God's Limitless Power of Transmutation, Peace, Abundance, Healing, Comfort, Truth and Divine Love, our individual efforts are expanded a thousandfold by the Company of Heaven. When we join together in the consciousness of Pure Love and invoke the Light of God as One Voice, One Breath, One Heart and One Mind, our efforts are expanded a thousand times a thousandfold.

All we have to do to accomplish that miraculous feat is consecrate and dedicate our energy to that Divine Intent. The following is a simple affirmation that invokes the Light of God for that Divine Purpose. Each time it is said, with deep feeling, it builds in power and momentum.

I AM the Light of God In the Name and by the Power of the Almighty Presence of God, I AM, I invoke the God Presences of ALL Humanity and the Legions of Light throughout Infinity. Powers of Light, come forth NOW and join with me as One Voice, One Breath, One Mind and One Heart of Pure, Divine Love. I AM a Force of God's Limitless Power of Transmutation, Peace, Healing, Comfort, Truth, Abundance and Divine Love more powerful than ANY human miscreation on Earth.

(Repeat from * 9X)

Whenever a person, place, condition or thing is brought to your attention that is reflecting negativity of any kind, invoke the Light of God through the preceding affirmation and project the Light through your Heart Flame into the situation at hand. KNOW that you are literally the hands of God in the physical plane, and the Light of God that is pouring through you is infinitely more powerful than any of the distorted patterns of human miscreation manifesting on Earth.

Remember, the Light of God is ALWAYS Victorious, and YOU are that Light! Don't ever underestimate your ability to be a positive force of God on this Planet. The Universal Law is "Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the Door will be opened." All we have to do is ask for the Light of God to flow through us to heal the negativity surfacing on Earth....AND SO IT IS!

There is one other thing we need to remember to keep things in perspective. Even though we are constantly being bombarded by the media with negative "news," the people being reported on represent a minuscule fraction of Humanity. There are almost SIX BILLION people evolving on Earth and, by far, the great majority of people are genuinely striving to be decent Human Beings according to their wisdom and understanding.

So, instead of judging or criticizing, we need to ask the God Presence of every man, woman and child who is acting out negatively to take command and lift that person into the Realms of Illumined Truth. Once they have lifted up in consciousness, each One will remember that he or she is a wondrous Child of God and that we are ALL ONE. There is NO separation. All that our Father-Mother God has is ours! Thank you for remembering who you are and for doing what you came to Earth to do. God Bless You!

by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles

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Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent

1) THE GIFT OF LISTENING... But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

2) THE GIFT OF AFFECTION... Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

3) THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER... Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

4) THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE... It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

5) THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT... A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

6) THE GIFT OF A FAVOR... Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7) THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE... There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8) THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION... The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.

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A Sculptor's Attitude

I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or ... I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or .... I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health or ... I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was growing up or ...I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns or ... I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work or ... I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.

Today I can complain because I have to go to school or ... eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.

What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!

Have a GREAT DAY ... unless you have other plans

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The Real James Twyman Story!

An extract from

The Secret Order of the Beloved Disciple by James Twyman

I decided to call Fr. John three days after our visit with Maya and Ishtar. Much to my amazement, as soon as he answered the phone, I felt the heavy weight leave. I introduced myself and told him who had given me his number.

"Yes, Maya told me you might call." he said. "It sounds like you had quite an adventure in former Yugoslavia. I just bought your book 'Emissary of Light' but haven't had a chance to read it yet."

"According to Maya you have been to Bosnia as well," I said. "Yes, several times. I was stuck in Sarajevo once during the height of the war, then went back a year later to plant a peace pole at the exact spot where ArchDuke Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914 sparking World War I. It appears the earth has a tendency to remember powerful events, regardless of whether they're positive or negative...on an energetic level, of course. I believe that planting a peace pole and saying certain prayers can help neutralize a negative vortex and bring it back to normal. That has been one of the more bizarre areas of my work lately."

I then told him about the concert I was scheduled to perform in Belgrade. He explained that he had wanted to go to Serbia for a long time.

"There is a region of Serbia called Kosovo which is ready to explode in ethnic warfare at any time," he said. "In Kosovo there is a place called the 'Field of the Blackbirds' which has been an energetic point zero for all the negative events that have taken place there for the last seven hundred years. During the Crusades, there was a battle on this small area of land and the entire Serbian army was slaughtered. It became their battle cry, 'Remember the Field of the Blackbirds,' and they've been saying it ever since.

Almost every conflict in that region of the world has had some connection to that field. I believe it is because the land itself has not been healed. I want to go there with a peace pole and conduct the same ceremony we did in Sarajevo."

He definitely didn't talk like any priest I had ever heard before. Catholic priests don't normally believe in things like, "healing the land," or "negative energy vortex's." If for no other reason than that I knew I had to meet him. He agreed and we decided that Jennifer and I would join him a this house the next evening.

"I have been waiting for an opportunity like this for a very long time,

"John said to me. "I believe that the Emissaries you met in the mountains of Bosnia are the most secret and elusive branch of the 'Community of the Beloved' founded by St. John. And I also believe that they know what we only suspect, that the time of the Second Coming is at hand. I also have a feeling I know who this 'new teacher' is, but I can't say anything about it yet. There is a woman I want you to meet, a shaman who lives in Los Angeles named Shrinat Devi. I believe that she will know what we should do next. But we should wait until we're ready to leave for Serbia before we see her."

"I don't understand," I said. "Are you planning on coming with me?"

"If you don't mind I feel it's important that I go. I want to bring a peace pole and plant it at the 'Field of Blackbirds.' I think your concert is the perfect reason to go, and once we are there we can do the real work. I also believe that we will be shown more about the 'next teacher' the Emissaries spoke of. That's really want you want isn't it?"

I agreed and we decided to plan the trip together. The sudden change in direction startled me, but it felt right. there was something about Fr. John that completely intrigued me and his knowledge about the lineage of St. John suddenly seemed invaluable. Jennifer and I said goodnight and I promised to call him the next day to arrange our visas and or flight.

(From a report submitted by Fr. John entitled: The Real Meaning of the Battle of Kosovo) The battle of Kosovo took place on June 28, 1389 between a Christian Coalition led by Tsar Lazar of Serbia and the Turkish Muslim forces led by King Murad. In addition to being a great leader, Tsar Lazar was also a very spiritual and holy man. In a story told to every Serbian schoolchild for countless generations, an extraordinary event is recounted. The night before the battle God appeared to Tsar Lazar and told him he could win either a great material or a great spiritual victory. It was his choice. Being a man of profound Christian faith, Tsar did not hesitate and chose the spiritual victory. The next day the battle was lost and both Tsar Lazar and King Murad were killed.

The misinterpretation of that event by Serbian nationalists has led to their denial of Tsar Lazar's vow as well as the promise given to him by God.

It is as if the ancient battle had never been lost, as if the Muslims had never fought in Kosovo at all, or that the 400 year cultural flowering and unique legacy of Muslims and Christians living together in Bosnia never occurred.

Tsar Lazar's choice of a great spiritual victory led eventually to the flowering of diverse religious and ethnic cultures, all living together in peace and harmony. This was most profound in Sarajevo, a model of hope for the future of the world and a bulwark against religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. In their denial and misunderstanding of this, and ultimately the building of Gazi Mestan in Kosovo, a monument symbolizing Serbian ethnic and religious nationalism, the values Tsar Lazar had repudiated in his choice for a spiritual victory were lost. Serbia went against their greatest spiritual leader, his vow, choice, and God's promise to him.

It is well known that World War I was triggered by the assassination of ArchDuke Ferdinand on June 1914 by a Serbian named Gavrilo Princep. This in turn paved the way for World War II, the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, the Holocaust, and many other horrors. the war in former Yugoslavia ended nearly a century of European warfare with ethnic violence that had not been seen since Hitler. What is not so well known are the links of all these events to Kosovo and the promise to Tsar Lazar.

Gavrilo Princep, a Serbian nationalist, specifically chose the day of June 28 to assassinate the ArchDuke. It was the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, but what he did not know was the true nature of the group that sponsored the assassination and from whom he took direction. They were not the like-minded nationalists Princep thought they were, but a secret Serbian occult terrorist organization that called themselves "The Black Hand." In this light the events of 1914-1945 and their spiritual significance take on a whole new meaning.

The continuation of these events bring us back to Kosovo on June 28,1989, the 600th anniversary of the battle. President Milosevic of Serbia, also the last president of Yugoslavia, gave an historic speech on the battle field of Kosovo to rally the last vestiges of a greater Serbia. This final tragic misinterpretation of the spiritual victory won at the battle of Kosovo and God's promise to Tsar Lazar set into motion all the terrible events that have taken place in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and now Kosovo over the last ten years. These have all these been the dark fruits of the misunderstanding of the Battle of Kosovo.

*** Please distribute this to as many people as possible. It is extremely important that we understand the history behind the Balkans conflict.

We have an opportunity to use this common concern to unite millions in love and with thoughts of peace in a way never before possible. The promise of a great spiritual victory that God made to Tsar Lazar can now be fulfilled.

If you are interested in obtaining chapters of The Secret Order of the Beloved Disciple please email to 114574.733@compuserve.com

You can also write to: Pam Perry, Creative Health Network PO Box 2427 Glastonbury BA6 8XX UK

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Lessons I've Learned....

I've learned- that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

I've learned- that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.

I've learned- that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

I've learned- that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.

I've learned- that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something.

I've learned- that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do.

I've learned- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I've learned- that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I've learned- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I've learned- that you can keep going long after you can't.

I've learned- that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I've learned- that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I've learned- that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I've learned- that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I've learned- that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I've learned- that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I've learned- that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I've learned- that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I've learned- that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I've learned- that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

I've learned- that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I've learned- that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.

I've learned- that your family won't always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren't biological.

I've learned- that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I've learned- that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you are to learn to forgive yourself.

I've learned- that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I've learned- that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I've learned- that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I've learned- that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I've learned- that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

I've learned- that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I've learned- that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.

I've learned- that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I've learned- that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I've learned- that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I've learned- that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

I've learned- that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe

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The Old Fisherman

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face -- lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus 'til morning."

He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face...I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments..."

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home.

Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind." I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!" Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness' would have been easier to bear.

I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!"

My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden."

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body." All this happened long ago -- and now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

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From Where I Stand

A Teenager's Voice from Inside the Culture of Death ~ Sarah Honey

" If the people will lead ... the leaders will follow "

On April 20, 1999, there was yet another gruesome shooting in Littleton, Colorado. Kids killing kids. And again, the entire nation in its uproar is trying to figure out why. I am eighteen years old. I live in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin. A small town just like the ones where these horrifying shootings always seem to take place. Every time those stories come on the television, I can't help but notice how easily it could be my small town next. And I want to know why this is happening just as badly as any parent or police chief or anchorman.

The thing is, I am right in the middle of it. I am in the same age group as all of these high school kids. So I may have some insight for the world that has been otherwise unattainable since these shootings started some years ago.

The night of the Littleton shooting, as I was flipping through the various news channels that were covering the story in Littleton, Colorado, I heard something that struck a chord in me. An anchorman was interviewing the mother of a victim in the Jonesboro shooting. His question was: "If you look at America in the 1950s, you will find that this kind of thing never happened; whereas if you look at America today, this kind of thing is becoming more and more frequent. Why do you think this is happening?" The woman, of course, could not answer the question. In fact, she didn't really even try. But I did.

I thought about it for a long time that night. And again the next morning, when my favorite morning radio talk show asked its listeners why they thought this has been happening. Many people said it's the parents of the kids. Many people suggested television and video games. Many people even turned to popular musicians, looking to put the blame somewhere. But I will tell you what I think it is. What I, a regular teenager riding on the coattails of Generation X, blame it on.

It is not the parents or the movies or the rock stars. It is AMERICA. It is this culture of death, this culture in which liberals and feminists and activists are so anxious to let anything be "OK" that the once tightened, knotted rope of society is unraveling right beneath us. Don't you see? There can be no order without discipline. All of those things people think are causing children to run into a school and shoot their teachers and peers and even kids they don't know - the movies, the video games, the parents, the rap artists - they are only REFLECTIONS of our society. Society breaks down, from one big metaphoric "family" into 50 metaphoric "families" and so on and so on, until you have the actual FAMILY, the one with the parents and the kids and the dog.

It is not one thing or two things; it is the attitude of an entire "familiar" nation being reflected back at us in the kids. Just as that anchorman suggested, something was different about the 1950s. WE WERE CONSERVATIVE. We had boundaries; we had a definite knowledge of right and wrong throughout the entire nation.

We didn't have feminists pushing women so hard to go get a job that a woman who didn't have a job was somehow "bad," thereby leaving kids at home with inadequate parental guidance and often times with parents who were truly unhappy. We didn't have liberals fighting so avidly to legalize everything that it was at the point of completely blurring the line between good and bad. We didn't a nationwide media surge dedicated to sex and violence so intense that if you weren't playing killing video games at age 14, then you were trying to choose between contraceptives beforehand or abortion afterwards. We didn't have disputes over whether or not we should help someone who is dying die sooner - over whether or not we should ASSIST them in committing SUICIDE. And we certainly didn't have a President who was in favor of NATO bombing and killing children in Serbia come on the television to grieve the loss for the families of children killed in America.

We live in a loosely tied society, a culture dedicated to death. If you don't want the kid, kill it. If you don't want to live out the rest of your God-given days, kill yourself. Or better yet, have someone else come help you do it. I guess, no matter how horrible or gruesome or gut-wrenching it may be, it was just a matter of time before someone got that "killing-as-a-means-to-an-end" idea stuck in their head for the part between birth and death as well. Everything that happens in families and cities and states and countries is the mirror image of the big picture. We are falling apart as a society.

Am I -- some random normal teenager in Farmertown, U.S.A. -- the only one who sees that? It's sad and it's hard to believe, but what's worse is that it's scary. I think it's time for our--America's--Mom and Dad to ground us--to say, "If you don't shape up by the time I count to three..." And then REALLY count to three. Because we are running wild and pretty soon we're going to be too far from home to ever get back.

There was once a great saying by a famous man that has rung true throughout the history of every family and in every society and in every social group and in every religion-it was a frighteningly true statement that cannot be disputed. I am reminded of it now, in the wake of yet another indescribably tormenting result of a nation gone haywire..."By their fruits you shall know them." Together we can do what we cannot alone.

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Hit By a Brick

About ten years ago, a young and very successful executive name Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit to fast in his sleek, black 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old.

He watched for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and -WhUMP!- it smashed into the Jag's shiny black door!

SCREECH....!!!!! brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car.

He shouted at the kid, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?" Building up a head of steam, he went on, That's my new Jaguar, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?"

"Please, mister, Please...I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do!" pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop!" Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car. "It's my brother, mister," he said. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Sobbing the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's to heavy for me"

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining he lifted the young man back into his wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checked to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk towards home.

It was a long walk back to his sleek, shinny, black, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE - a long slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He keep the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention...Some bricks are softer than others.

Feel for the bricks of life coming at/to you.

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Friend Blessings

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there...to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be but when you lock eyes with them, you know that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way. And sometimes things happen to you at the time that may seem horrible, painful and unfair, but in reflection you realize that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, will power or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, life would be like a smoothy paved, straight, flat road to nowhere. Safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet affect your life. The successes and downfalls that you experience can create who you are, and the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them because they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart to. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because they are teaching you to love and open your heart and eyes to little things.

Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. Create your own life and then go out and live it.

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Where Do We Go When We Die?

Heart & Soul Healing(tm) Techniques for Releasing Lost Souls and Spirits

We live in a society largely uncomfortable with the idea of death. A few movies like Ghost, Powder and What Dreams May Come have begun to address this issue, but for the most part we prefer 'happy endings.' There does seem to be a great fear of death and the unknown, even though death is one of the few inevitable events we all experience. Poets and writers through time have all called death the greatest mystery of all, but even in alternative therapies, other than traditional bereavement classes and records of near death experiences, there is very little written or shared about what clients say happens after they die.

I would like to address this issue because I believe we have been searching for the answer each time someone we know dies. I have done over 30,000 past life regressions, and I have found the moment of death is where I believe most souls or spirits get confused or lost.

One of the reasons we are here on Earth is to experience everything. Isn't it true we have the most compassion for people when we have experienced what they are going through and the most judgment for the things we have not done? What I have heard the most (over the last 15 years) from more than 10,000 clients, is it appears the only way we can understand this is to experience lifetime after lifetime of doing everything, until we find peace, as well as unconditional love for ourselves and compassion for others. Yet, my clients tell me death is a moment where all things come together for the soul or spirit. It is a time to feel and be aware of the highest light and love available on this place of existence. If this is true, if we come to Earth over and over again, why then aren't we all perfect? What happens to cause us to get confused or lost, if the moment of death is such a special and sacred time?

I believe there are a combination of reasons. First of all it appears there is free will after we die. We all know free will exists here on Earth, but the question is, does free will affect us at the time of our death and if so, why would it cause us confusion?

To begin with, while we are physically present here on Earth, we have our body to help us with time, to give us a reference in space. All of our senses, what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell, what we know, is based on our education and experience. When we leave our body those reference points are no longer with us. The problem begins with what we are feeling and thinking at the moment of death. As we pass over, perhaps we do not know we can leave these feelings with the body as we die, so we bring them with us. What would happen if we were drinking at the time we died? Could something like this confuse us? How about drugs or addictions? There are also many possibilities that might cause confusion if we were to look at the history of war or disease.

In my work, Heart & Soul Healing,(tm) I have found it very important to know the kind of energy around a person who is ready to move on. Is it fear, anger, hate, pain, suffering, war, torture or sickness? The specific consciousness around each of us at the time we die becomes the catalyst for confusion, entangling us energetically. A highly charged consciousness could easily add another layer of ideas to the moment of free will. It would be as if a part of us gets caught up in all of these energetics, confusing us.

I believe there are many souls or pieces of spirit caught up in the different collective consciousnesses that we, as humans, have created: war, disease, sickness, addictions. I also believe each of us is here to help these pieces to be set free, free from all of these beliefs and ideas which history has trapped in the name of something. Each of us has the ability to free these souls by loving the different consciousnesses they represent.

The second factor that may lead to our confusion is what happens to our life force energy when we die. From my experiences with clients, I believe we go into everything at that moment, much like the experience in the movie, Powder. If this seems strange to you, ask yourself, is God in everything? I believe we are all one, so we too are a part of everything.

If this is true, then is there a possibility we go into everything when we die? If so, what would this mean to each of us and how could it change or effect us? For example, if a person who died went into me, it would represent only one cell in the 100 trillion which make me up. Most likely I would not feel any difference in my normal cycle of daily living, a cycle of five million cells which either die or are created every day I am alive. It appears this experience changes when a close family member dies and a part of them goes into us. The cell of them, which is now with us, affects us to the degree we are holding on to them or thinking about them.

The third factor that might contribute to our confusion at the time of death are our ideas, the beliefs we have about the afterlife. Do we believe in heaven or hell or purgatory? Are we afraid of being judged after we die? Are there people in our family holding onto us? Do we have ideas like, "I can't leave until I complete something."

The final factor which influences our death experience is how much of us is energetically present at the moment we die. What I have heard over and over from my clients is each of us say many times in this life each of us say, "I do not want to be here,"" whether that is on Earth or in our body. A typical age for these feelings to start is around the age of three, when a part of us does leave energetically and begins to watch ourselves from outside of our body. A part of us stays out side the body and can get caught up in the feelings or emotions around us.

Getting back to the fact that many of us are not comfortable with death, many of my clients h ask me how to best help a loved one who is about to pass on. The best way to help is to support them. By support I mean being open to talking with them or finding someone who can talk to them about what they are going through, their feelings of death and what they think will happen to them when they pass over. It is important not to judge what is shared or to put the person in a place where they think what is happening is wrong or bad. Find out what specific worries they might have about dying, such as what will happen to the family and how the family will support each other.

The most comforting and healing thing you can do for someone in this place is to just let them talk. Most of all, enjoy the time you have left with them. If possible go out and play together, listen to music, play cards or do what they love to do. Be open as well and share your feelings with them. Ask them about the types of dreams they are having. Give them an opportunity to talk about their experience and anything they have been hiding, or thought was bad or unpleasant.

The days immediately following a loved one's death are also very important. Be sure the funeral plans have been taken care of. Do just what the person has asked for and what you have promised them you will do. If you feel you must do more, do that after you have given that person their respect and completed all their requests.

Should you feel any heaviness around or with you after someone you have been close to passes on, it is very likely you are holding onto a part of them or you have taken on some of their emotions or worries. In case you feel spacey after being in the presence of someone who has died, make sure a part of you did not follow them. If you feel this has happened to you, get grounded and into your body and ask for that part of you to come back in. Do not be frightened or worried about this. It is very easy to take care of .

A very simple and effective way to release these energetics is to do the following technique: Put your right hand over your left and place them over your heart. With your eyes closed, look up with your spiritual eyes. There will be a light or a presence that comes from Source, which feels good. >From that light, ask for a guide or angel to come and hold any part of the person which may still be with you. Ask that they now be sent back home to God. To do that say, "I send you back home to God with love, on the count of three." Count to three and then release your hands from your chest and know that they have been taken back to God.

In addition, do not take drugs or drink too much after someone you care for has passed away as you are much more vulnerable energetically. It is also very important for you to continue to do the general Heart & Soul Healing (tm) clearing technique on a daily basis. If you are unfamiliar with this process, please look it up on our website: http://www.kenpage-mch.com under the heading: Healing techniques.

Freeing a piece of a spirit or soul trapped in the past is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give to others or ourselves. This is not something just a chosen few can do. As you have been on your spiritual path, many of you have loved and felt God. In doing so you are starting to become a walking gate, a light, an interdimensional doorway into all space and time. Any lost spirit or soul could then see or feel your light or vibration and become attracted to you. This is not something you have to be afraid of. Just allow yourself to be open.

At the moment of death there is a gate, door or space that is created which will not only allow the person you have loved to go back home to God, but any other souls which might need to be released as well. In some cases , thousands of lost souls can be released in a spilt second. If you believe you know where there are trapped souls or spirits that need help, please let us know and we would love to support you in freeing them.

For additional questions, information about Ken Page, the ongoing Practitioner School, remote or in-person Heart & Soul Healing(tm) healing sessions and currently available books, audio and video tapes, please contact the Institute at:

Institute of MCH(tm) PO Box 13144 North Palm Beach, FL 33408 (800) 809-1290 ph/fax: (561) 848-7820 e-mail: kenpagemch@yahoo.com website: www.kenpage-mch.com

By Ken Page

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What kind of tree are you?

Find your birthday and then scroll down to read about your personality.

December 23 to January 1 - Apple Tree

January 2 to January 11 - Fir Tree

January 12 to January 24 - Elm Tree

January 25 to February 3 - Cypress Tree

February 4 to February 8 - Poplar Tree

February 9 to February 18 - Cedar Tree

February 19 to February 28 - Pine Tree

March 1 to March 10 - Weeping Willow Tree

March 11 to March 20 - Lime Tree

March 21 - Oak Tree

March 22 to March 31 - Hazelnut Tree

April l to April 10 - Rowan Tree

April 11 to April 20 - Maple Tree

April 21 to April 30 - Walnut Tree

May 1 to May 14 - Poplar Tree

May 15 to May 24 - Chestnut Tree

May 25 to June 3 - Ash Tree

June 4 to June 13 - Hornbeam Tree

June 14 to June 23 - Fig Tree

June 24 - Birch Tree

June 25 to July 4 - Apple Tree

July 5 to July 14 - Fir Tree

July 15 to July 25 - Elm Tree

July 26 to August 4 - Cypress Tree

August 5 to August 13 - Poplar Tree

August 14 to August 23 - Cedar Tree

August 24 to September 2 - Pine Tree

September 3 to September 12 - Weeping Willow Tree

September 13 to September 22 - Lime Tree

September 23 - Olive Tree

September 24 to October 3 - Hazelnut Tree

October 4 to October 13 - Rowan Tree

October 14 to October 23 - Maple Tree

October 24 to November 11 - Walnut Tree

November 12 to November 21 - Chestnut Tree

November 22 to December 1 - Ash Tree

December 2 to December 11 - Hornbeam Tree

December 12 to December 21 - Fig Tree

December 22 - Beech Tree

 

Apple Tree - the Love of slight build, lots of charm, appeal and attraction, pleasant aura, flirtatious, adventurous, sensitive, always in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner, very generous, scientific talents, lives for today, a carefree philosopher with imagination.

Ash Tree - the Ambition Uncommonly attractive, vivacious, impulsive, demanding, does not care for criticism, ambitious, intelligent, talented, likes to play, with its mate, can be egoistic, very reliable and trust-worthy, faithful and prudent lover, sometimes brains rule over heart, but takes partnership very senous.

Beech Tree - the Creative Has good taste, concerned about its looks, materialist, good organization of life and career, economical, good leader, takes no unnecessary risks, reasonable, splendid lifetime companion, keen on keeping fit (diets, sports, etc.).

Birch Tree - the Inspiration Vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly,, unpretentious, modest, does not like anything in excess, abhors the vulgar, loves life in nature and in calm, not very passionate, full of imagination, little ambition, creates a calm and content atmosphere.

Cedar Tree - the Confidence of rare beauty, knows how to adapt, likes luxury, of good health not in the least shy, tends to look down on others, self-confident, impatient, wants to impress others, many talents, industrious, healthy, optimism, waiting for the one true love, able to make quick decisions.

Chestnut Tree - the Honesty of unusual beauty, does not want to impress, well-developed sense of justice, vivacious, interested, a born diplomat, but irritate and sensitive in company, often due to a lack of self-confidence, acts sometimes superior, feels not understood loves only once, has difficulties in finding a partner.

Cypress Tree - the Faithfulness, Strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give, happy, content, optimistic, needs enough money and acknowledgment, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick- tempered, unruly, pedantic and careless.

Elm Tree - the Noble-Mindedness, Pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, modest demands, tends to not forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but not to obey, honest and faithful partner, tends to a know-all-attitude and making decisions for others, noble-minded, generous, good sense of humor, practical.

Fig Tree - the Sensibility Very strong, a bit self-willed, independent, does not allow contradiction or arguments, loves life, its family, children and animals, a bit of a butterfly, good sense of humor, likes idleness and laziness, of practical talent and intelligence.

Fir Tree - the Mysterious Extraordinary taste, dignity, cultivated airs, loves anything beautiful, moody, stubborn, tends to egoism but cares for those close to it, rather modest, very ambitious, talented, industrious uncontent lover, many friends, many foes, very reliable.

Hazelnut Tree - the Extraordinary Charming, undemanding, very understanding, knows how to make an impression, active fighter for social cause, popular, moody and capricious lover, honest and tolerant partner, precise sense of judgment.

Hornbeam Tree - the good taste of cool beauty, cares for its looks and condition, good taste, tends to egoism, makes life as comfortable as possible, leads reasonable, disciplined life, looks for kindness, an emotional partner and acknowledgment, dreams of unusual lovers, is seldom happy with her feelings, mistrusts most people, is never sure of its decisions, very consciencious.

Lime Tree - the Doubt Accepts what life dishes out in a composed way, hates fighting, stress and labor, tends to laziness and idleness, soft and relenting, makes sacrifices for friends, many talents but not tenacious enough to make them blossom, often wailing and complaining, very jealous, loyal.

Maple Tree - Independence of Mind No ordinary person, full imagination and originality, shy and reserved, ambitious, proud, self-respect, hungors for new experiences, sometimes nervous, many complexes, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.

Oak Tree - robust nature Courageous, strong, unrelenting, independent, sensible, does not love changes, keeps its feet on the ground, person of action.

Olive Tree - the Wisdom Loves sun, warmth and kind feelings, reasonable, balanced, avoids aggression and violence, tolerant, cheerful, calm, well-developed sense of justice, sensitive, empathic, free of jealousy, loves to read and the company of sophisticated people.

Pine Tree - the Particularity Loves agreeable company, very robust, knows how to make life comfortable, very active, natural, good companion, but seldom friendly, falls easily in love but its passion burns out quickly, gives up easily, many disappointments till it finds its ideal, trustworthy, practical.

Poplar Tree - the Uncertainty Looks very, decorative, no self-confident behavior, only courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, artistic nature, good organizer, tends to philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership serious.

Rowan Tree - the Sensitivity, Full of charm, cheerful, gifted, without egoism, likes to draw attention, loves life, motion, unrest and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.

Walnut Tree - the Passion Unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egoistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromises.

Weeping Willow Tree - the Melancholy Beautiful but full of melancholy, attractive, very empathic, loves anything beautiful and tasteful, loves to travel, dreamer, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with, demanding, good intuition, suffers in love but finds sometimes an anchoring partner.

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Apparently, we just don't get it

4/23/99 Duluth, (Minnesota) News Tribune.

It seems to me that if we keep isolating events such as the tragedy at Littleton, Colo., as "school violence," we are mislabeling the problem. Yes, it was violence, and it happened at a school. It was horrible. It was appalling. It would have been unimaginable if it hadn't happened so many times before at other schools. This is not "school violence." It is violence that just happened to occur at a school.

I suppose it will spawn another round of town meetings and community action groups and newspaper special sections devoted to school violence. But I suspect this flurry of gatherings will not prevent another Littleton or another Paducah or another Jonesboro. Or even a similar event at Duluth East, or Central, or Denfeld, or Marshall.

This isn't a kid problem. It isn't a school problem. It's a grown-up problem. The problem is not school violence. The problem is us-and what this country has become. It's Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Terminators. It's "My Governor Can Beat Up Your Governor." It's about 50 percent of everything you see on television. It's Minnesota Vikings who assault their wives. It's road rage. It's talk radio. It's the mentality, espoused by our own governor, that if we carried concealed weapons, this would be a safer country. The problem is us. All of us who pay to watch Arnold terminate, who cheer hockey fights, who call sports-talk radio on Kiss-My-Ass Mondays to hurl our venom.

Our society has become so hateful, so short-tempered, so vindictive that we cannot see what is happening here. Littleton explodes. Must be school violence. What's wrong with kids these days? What's wrong is that civility is no longer cool. Anger is in. Look at our cologne ads. Look at our clothing models. Sullen, cold, angry people glaring out from the pages. Handsome, yes. Beautiful, yes. But sullen and cold and moody. And we buy the stuff. What's wrong is that love is no longer cool. Sex is cool, but love isn't. What are you talking about, man? That was the '70s. Love? No thanks. Give me the right mutual funds, a sport-utility vehicle and Tommy Hilfiger.

And what's really wrong, I'm afraid, is that kids are no longer cool. We have time to work. But we don't have time for our kids. Too many of them are getting the message, spoken or unspoken, that they are extra baggage. That they don't matter. Disenfranchised, some of them learn to hate, and when they strike out at society, they do it with the weapons du jour. We should be surprised they come with rifles, shotguns and bombs? Flick on your television tonight and smell the gunpowder.

It seems to me that society has not become violent in big steps. We have become that way in hundreds of small actions that we make every day. What we buy. What we do not buy. What we watch. What we do not watch. What we read. What we choose not to read. We are not going to become a less violent society in big steps, either. Not by tackling "school violence." Not with agencies or programs or cops. We can only become less violent by rethinking the thousands of decisions we make all the time. All of us.

The way we spend our time. The way we spend our money. The way we spend our love.

Article by Sam Cook

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The Doll and a White Rose

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys. And wondered if the grandkids would even play with them. I found myself in the doll aisle.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy, about 5, holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for, when a woman checked on him, and calling his aunt by name, the little boy said, "Are you sure I don't have enough money?" She replied a bit impatiently, "You know that you don't have enough money for it."

The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere, that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll. After a bit I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, "It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it." I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said, "No, Santa can't go where my sister is...I have to give the doll to my Mamma to take to her."

I asked him where his sister was. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "She has gone to be with Jesus." "My Daddy says that Mama is going to have to go be with her." My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, "I told my Daddy to tell Mama not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store". Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he had taken at the front of the store. He said "I want my Mamma to take this with her so she don't ever forget me." "I love my Mama so very much and I wish she did not have to leave me". "But Daddy says she will need to be with my sister."

I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, "Shall we count that money one more time?" He grew excited and said "Yes, I just know it has to be enough". So I slipped my money in with his, and we began to count it. Of course it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, "Thank you, Jesus, for giving me enough money." Then the boy said "I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll, so Mama can take it with her, to give to my sister." "And He heard my prayer." "I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my Mama a white rose, but I didn't ask Him, but He gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Mama." "She loves white roses so very, very much". In a few minutes the aunt came back, and I wheeled my cart away.

I could not keep from thinking about the little boy, as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. And I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier, about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl, and the Mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on whether to remove the life support.

Now surely this little boy did not belong with that story. Two days later, I read in the paper where the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I could not forget the little boy, and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected.

Later that day, I could not help myself and I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home, where the young woman was. And there she was, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store. I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. And in a split second a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little boy to pieces.

"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

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The Frog Story

A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, they agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead.

Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless, and that the two frogs wouldn't be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead.

The two frogs continued jumping with all their might, and after several hours of this, were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellow frogs. Exhausted, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could, although his body was wracked with pain and he was quite exhausted. Once again, his companions began yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and, wonder of wonders, finally leaped so high that he sprang from the pit.

Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his freedom and then gathering around him asked, "Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?"

The astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and as he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds.

This simple story contains a powerful lesson. The book of Proverbs says, "There is death and life in the power of the tongue". Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone's desire to continue trying - or even their life. Your destructive, careless word can diminish someone in the eyes of others, destroy their influence and have a lasting impact on the way others respond to them. Be careful what you say.

Speak life to (and about) those who cross your path. There is enormous power in words. If you have words of kindness, praise or encouragement - speak them now to, and about, others. Listen to your heart and respond. Someone, somewhere, is waiting for your words...

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Retiring Carpenter

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter.

"This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently. Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."

Who could say it more clearly? Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

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This may not all be true, but it is interesting and took some thought on someone's part.

Life in the 1500s

Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare. She married at the age of 26. This is really unusual for the time. Most people married young. Like at the age of 11 or 12. Life was not as romantic as we may picture it. Here are some examples:

Anne Hathaway's home was a 3 bedroom house with a small parlor which was seldom used (only for company), kitchen, and no bathroom. Mother and Father shared a bedroom. Anne had a queen sized bed, but did not sleep alone. She also had 2 other sisters and they shared the bed also with 6 servant girls (this is before she married). They didn't sleep like we do lengthwise but all laid on the bed crosswise. At least they had a bed.

The other bedroom was shared by her 6 brothers and 30 field workers. They didn't have a bed. Everyone just wrapped up in their blanket and slept on the floor. They had no indoor heating so all the extra bodies kept them warm. They were also small people, the men only grew to be about 5'6" and the women were 4'8." SO in their house they had 27 people living.

Most people got married in June. Why? They took their yearly bath in May, so they were still smelling pretty good by June, although they were starting to smell, so the brides would carry a bouquet of flowers to hide their b.o. Like I said, they took their yearly bath in May, but it was just a big tub that they would fill with hot water. The man of the house would get the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was pretty thick. Thus, the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water," it was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

I'll describe their houses a little. You've heard of thatch roofs? Well, that's all they were-thick straw piled high with no wood underneath. They were the only place for the little animals to get warm. So all the pets; dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs, all lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs." Since there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house they would just try to clean up a lot. But this posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings from animals could really mess up your nice clean bed, so they found if they would make beds with big posts and hang a sheet over the top it would prevent that problem. That's where those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies came from.

When you came into the house you would notice most times that the floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt-that's where the saying "dirt poor" came from. The wealthy would have slate floors. That was fine but in the winter they would get slippery when they got wet. So they started to spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they would just keep adding it and adding it until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. So they put a piece of wood at the entryway, a "thresh hold."

In the kitchen they would cook over the fire, they had a fireplace in the kitchen/parlor, that was seldom used and sometimes in the master bedroom. They had a big kettle that always hung over the fire and every day they would light the fire and start adding things to the pot. Mostly they ate vegetables, they didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner then leave the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew would have food in it that had been in there for a month! Thus the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old." Sometimes they could get a hold of some pork. They really felt special when that happened and when company came over they even had a rack in the parlor where they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. That was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and they would all sit around and "chew the fat."

If you had money your plates were made out of pewter. Sometimes some of their food had a high acid content and some of the lead would leach out into the food. They really noticed it happened with tomatoes. So they stopped eating tomatoes, for 400 years. Most people didn't have pewter plates though, they all had trenchers, that was a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. They never washed their boards and a lot of times worms would get into the wood. After eating off the trencher with worms they would get "trench mouth."

If you were going traveling and wanted to stay at an Inn they usually provided the bed but not the board. The bread was divided according to status. The workers would get the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family would get the middle and guests would get the top, or the "upper crust."

They also had lead cups and when they would drink their ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. They would be walking along the road and here would be someone knocked out and they thought they were dead. So they would pick them up and take them home and get them ready to bury. They realized if they were too slow about it, the person would wake up. Also, maybe not all of the people they were burying were dead. So they would lay them out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. That's where the custom of holding a "wake" came from.

Since England is so old and small they started running out of places to bury people. So they started digging up some coffins and would take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. They started opening these coffins and found some had scratch marks on the inside. One out of 25 coffins were that way and they realized they had still been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. That is how the saying "graveyard shift" was made. If the bell would ring they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer."

Amazing, eh?

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How To Survive A Heart Attack When Alone

(Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed in order.)

Without help the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.

A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help.

Tell as many other people as possible about this, it could save their lives!

Health Cares Rochester General Hospital Chapter 240's newsletter AND THE BEAT GOES ON

The Mended Hearts, Inc.publication, Heart Response Phyllis A. Reddick Safety & The Environment

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The Lil Girl in the Park

There was this lil girl sitting by herself in the park. Everyone passed by her and never stopped to see why she looked so sad. Dressed in a worn pink dress, bare foot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak, she never said a word. Many people passed, but no one would stop.

The next day I decided to go back to the park, in curiosity, to see if the lil girl would still be there. Yes, she was there, right in the very spot as she was yesterday, and still with the sad look in her eyes. Today I was to make my own move and walk over to the lil girl. For as we all know a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play alone.

As I got closer I could see the back of the lil girl s dress was obscenely shaped. I figured that was a reason the people just passed by and made no effort to help. Deformities are a low blow to our society and so help you if you make a step toward assisting someone who is different. As I got closer the lil girl lowered her eyes slightly to avoid my intent stare. As I approached her, I could see the obscene shape of her back more clearly. Grotesquely shaped in a humped over form.

I smiled to let her know it was ok, I was there to help, to talk. I sat down beside her and opened with a simple Hello. The lil girl acted shocked, and stammered a hi, after a long stare into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back. We talked till darkness fell and the park was completely empty. I asked the girl why she was so sad. The lil girl looked at me and with a sad face said, "Because I'm different"…I immediately said, that you are and smiled. The lil girl acted even sadder, she said, I know.

Lil girl , I said, you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent . She looked at me and smiled. Slowly she got to her feet, and said, Really? Yes, you're like a Lil Guardian Angel sent to watch over all those people walking by. She shook her head, yes and smiled. With that she spread her wings and said, I am, I m your Guardian Angel, with a twinkle in her eye.

I was speechless, sure I was seeing things. She said, for once you thought of someone other than yourself, my job here is done. I got to my feet and said, wait, so why did no one stop to help an angel? She looked at me and smiled, You re the only one that could see me, and then she was gone.

And with that my life was changed dramatically.

So, When you think you re all you have, remember, your angel is always watching over you. Pass this to everyone that means anything at all to you make sure you send it back to the person that sent it to you, to let them know you re glad they care about you…like the story says we all need someone. Every one of your friends is an Angel in their own way.

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From a distant view...

We may all be one.... whatever that really means, but I do not believe that we are all equal. I used to think so tho. That was before I really thought about it. My mom and dad and school teachers would tell me that we are all equal... and they would use trite phrases like... we are all equal with different talents and capablities. I bought that one for a long time and often felt guilty when I would notice inequity among people and I would try to talk myself out of what I felt and saw.

Recently I was asked to marry a couple who live in wheelchairs. She is in her late 40's and has been in a wheel chair since age 23..... he entered his life in the chair at age 34 and is now 38. They met in the rehab center. We had decided that they would come to my home to discuss the wedding plans. It was a big deal. They had to find some one to drive them. Some one had to help them get into the car, after someone had helped them to get dressed and go to the bathroom. When they arrived to my home, which has no wheelchair ramps, someone had to help them get out of the car and assist them in getting under the shade tree for our talk. Some one had to get them water to drink and pick up the kleenex that she dropped and could not bend over to get.

When we talked about the ceremony they expressed concern about putting their wedding bands on one another. They were concerned that it would take so much time with their curled fingers. They were afraid that people would become impatient and be bored with the amount of time that it would take them to say their vows and exchange their rings. They expressed that the wedding needed to be short and sweet. I asked them why they wanted it to be short. There was a long pause.... and she said... because the world is in a hurry Moe. Most people do not have the patience for people like us. I suggested that this was their day and that we could take all the time they needed. They both started to giggle.

Then I asked if they were going on a honeymoon. They said no. They said that they did not have the money and that it is too difficult to travel. It required too many special services. I asked what they thought would be different in their lives once they were married. She said that it would not be that different because they could not live together for awhile. She would have to stay at the rehab center until his place could be adequately equipped for her special needs.

I asked if they could have sex. There faces got red, they started to giggle again, and both said oh yes. I wondered how but did not ask. We all smiled.

We talked about other things...and then it was time to go. She was glad that she did not have to go to the bathroom because it would have been a problem. He laughed and said that it is alot for easier for guys when they have to go. He wanted to try to make it to the car himself but with the grass, he couldn't. They drove away. I went back to my gardening, went to the bathroom, and later took a long walk on the prairie land with my grand-daughter.

Experiences like this remind me that we are not equal. We can say we are, but who are we kidding. There view of life is from a wheel chair. They may have a special view and exordinary lives... that I would agree. But their lives are not equal to those of us who are walking on the earth with our legs and feet, hurrying here and there.. And, I think it is important to remember that there really is no equality in his world. Its a good thing. If there was equality, I am quite sure I would not have felt some gratitude for my feet when I walked the land after sitting with these wheelchair teachers. I am quite sure I would not have told my granddaughter how beautiful her fingers are and said thank you as we picked some wild flowers. Without the reminders, it is easy to forget .

From the distant view...I am grateful to experience the inequality. Most of all, I am grateful to remember that every moment and experience is an invitation to divine remembrance. I believe that we are all in different evolutionary states and experiencing exactly what we need to experience....and it ain't equal. Thank God.

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Things Could be Worse

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guestroom. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole on the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied ... "Things aren't always what they seem".

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been the their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel "how could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die." "Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied.

"When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it.

Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave her the cow instead. Things aren't what they seem."

Sometimes that's exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it until sometime later. Think about this:

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TESTIMONY OF DARRELL SCOTT FATHER OF TWO VICTIMS OF COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING LITTLETON, COLORADO BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THURSDAY, MAY 27,1999 2:00 P.M. 2141 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the heart of men and of women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other children who died must not be in vain.

Their blood cries out for answers. The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.

In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughters death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of that blame lies here in this room. Much of that blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew l would be speaking here today.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs. Your words are empty air. You've stripped away our heritage. You've outlawed simple prayer. Now gunshots fill our classrooms. And precious children die. You seek for answers everywhere. And ask the question "WHY"? You regulate restrictive laws. Through legislative creed. And yet you fail to understand. That God is what we need!

Men and women are three part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our makeup, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historic fact.

What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God and in doing so, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs - - politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode away our personal and private liberties.

We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our OWN hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation is not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched!

We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy Television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God.

As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes. He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America and around the world to realize that on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School - - prayer was brought back to our schools.

Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your conscience and denies your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA - I give to you sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before you cast the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain. The young people of this country will not allow that to happen.

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The Blind Bus Rider

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he'd told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. "Friday at last", she thought.

It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. "How could this have happened to me?" she would plead, Susan's her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth her sight was never going to return.

A cloud of depression hung over Susan's once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion. And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he know this was the most difficult battle he would ever face.

Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn't working - it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe.

She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react? Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. "I'm blind!" she responded bitterly. "How am I supposed to know where I'm going? I feel like you're abandoning me." Mark's heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened. For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase. Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office.

Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she'd lost her sight, who wasn't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit. Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways.

onday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself! On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, "Boy, I sure envy you." Susan wasn't sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year?

Curious, she asked the driver, "Why do you say that you envy me?" The driver responded, "It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are." Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, "What do you mean?" The driver answered, "You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady."

Tears of happiness poured down Susan's cheeks. For although she couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn't need to see to believe - the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless! Be blessed in this thought: "God Loves You - even when you are not looking." (((HUGS)))

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Traveling Angels

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guestroom.   Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement.  As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied...Things aren't always what they seem.

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next moming the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen! The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die.

Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. When we stayed in the basement of the mansion. I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife.  I told him to take the cow instead.   Things aren't always what they seem.  Sometimes this is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way that we think they should.  If you have faith in God, just trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not realize it until much later.

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Teachers Are Not Like Other People

It started shortly after we got married. It started with my socks disappearing along with wire coat hangers from the closet. At first I didn't realize that one had anything to do with the other. I just imagined that my socks were being gobbled up by the washing machine and the hangers were being mislaid somewhere. Since we didn't have any children yet, I blamed the cat. I was wrong. The cat had nothing to do with it. The culprit was my wife.

The mystery was solved one day when I discovered one of my missing socks lying on my wife's desk. On it she had sewed two white buttons. I held it up and stared at it. Why did she do this? Then the answer hit me. These buttons were eyes! She was turning my socks into hand puppets for her students. She was using my clothing to make animals for her class. The missing coat hanger were being turned into mobiles for them too! Where would she stop? Would she use my shoes for boats? Would they become teaching aids for "The Woman Who Lived in the Shoe?" Would my best suit end up stuffed full of straw as a means to describe one of the character from the "Wizard of Oz?"

She said she was sorry and promised me she wouldn't do it again. She didn't. She couldn't, because she was too busy collecting new things, and of course I was asked to help. We collected butter cartons and pie tins and can wrappers. Then it was empty bleach bottles, newspapers, magazines, and wall paper. Followed by wooden spoons, wooden ice cream sticks, and wooden clothespins. Then it was felt and feather, and pieces of cloth for rag rugs, quilts, and banners.

She started going through the neighbors' trash. My beautiful, twenty-five year old bride had turned into a rag and dust bin man right before my eyes. I was scared. What would she do next? What had I married?

I was advised to discuss this with another teacher's husband. He counseled me not to worry, it was all very natural. Just the normal behavior of teachers. I would learn to live with it in time.

It's been twenty years. We now have three children, a cat, four rabbits, a snake, two dogs, a million guppies, and a forest of avocado trees growing in jars. We subscribe to 15 magazines each year, and we never throw any of them away. I'm no longer surprised at what I'm liable to find in our closets or in the refrigerator.

We live from holiday to holiday and from project to project, and during summer vacation we often visit libraries. In all the years I've been married, I've never been able to park my car in the garage, and I still occasionally find my socks ending up as puppets. But now I don't care. In fact I love it. It's just a typical life married to a teacher, Mrs. Wenger of room 8, my wife.

by: Allen M. Wenger, an Electrician

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A Sandpiper To Bring You Joy

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sandcastle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

"Hello," she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

"I'm building," she said.

"I see that. What is it?" I asked, not caring.

"Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand."

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.

"That's a joy," the child said.

"It's a what?"

"It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."

The bird went gliding down the beach. "Good-bye joy," I muttered to myself "hello pain," and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson."

"Mine's Wendy... I'm six."

"Hi, Wendy."

She giggled. "You're funny," she said.

In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.

"Come again, Mr. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day."

The days and weeks that followed belong to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. "I need a sandpiper," I said to myself gathering up my coat. The ever- changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

"Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?"

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

"I don't know, you say."

"How about charades?" I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."

"Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked.

"Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.

Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?"

"I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today."

She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. "Why?" she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."

"Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and-oh, go away!"

"Did it hurt? " she inquired.

"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.

"When she died?"

"Of course it hurt!!!!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

"Hello," I said. "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies."

"Not at all-she's a delightful child," I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. "Where is she?"

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

"She Ioved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." her voice faltered. She left something for you ... if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope, with MR. P. printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues, a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words one for each year of her life - that speak to me of harmony, courage, an undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand-who taught me the gift of love.

NOTE: I hope you have a few Kleenex tissues left in that box. The above is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It serves as a reminder to all that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. "The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less." Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas, can make us lose our focus about what is truly important or what is only a monetary setback or crisis. This weekend, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment.. even if it is only ten seconds, and stop and SMELL THE ROSES.

hearts

Tell Them

Some 14 years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our opening session in the Theology-of-Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. My quick judgment wrote him off as strange - very strange.

Tommy turned out to be my biggest challenge. He constantly objected to or smirked at the possibility of an unconditionally loving God. When he turned in his final exam at the end of the course, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

"No," I said emphatically.

"Oh," he responded. "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the door and then called out. "I1 don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am certain He will find you." Tommy shrugged and left. I felt slightly disappointed that he had missed my clever line.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was grateful for that.

Then came a sad report: Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to me. When he walked into my office, his body was badly wasted, and his long hair had fallen out because of chemotherapy. But his eyes ware bright and his voice, for the first time, was firm.

"Tommy! I've thought about you so often. I heard you were very sick," I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it?"

"Sure, what would you like to know?"

"What's it like to be only 24 and know that you're dying?"

"It could be worse," he told me, "like being 50 and thinking that drinking booze, seducing women and making money are the real 'biggies' in life." Then he told me why he had come. "It was something you said to me on the last day of class. I asked if you thought I would ever find God and you said no, which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging against the bronze doors of heaven. But something happened. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of my desperate attempts to get some kind of message, I just quit. I decided I didn't really care about God, an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more important. I thought about you and something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you loved them.' So I began with the hardest one: my dad."

Tommy's father had been reading the newspaper when his son approached him. "Dad, I would like to talk with you."

"Well, talk."

"I mean, it's really important." The newspaper came down three slow inches.

"What is it?"

"Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that." Tommy smiled at me as he recounted the moment. The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I couldn't remember him doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning."

"It was easier with my mother and little brother," Tommy continued. They cried with me, and we hugged one another, and shared the things we had been keeping secret for so long. Here I was, in the shadow of death, and I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to."

"Then one day I turned around and God was there. He didn't come to me when I pleaded with him. Apparently He does things in His own way and at His own hour. The important thing is that you were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him."

"Tommy," I added, "could I ask you a favor? Would you come to my Theology-of-Faith course and tell my students what you told me?" Though we scheduled a date, he never made it. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of humanity has ever seen or the mind ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. "I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tommy."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you. . . .tell the whole world for me?"

"I will, Tommy. I'll tell them."

Author Unknown

Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday, Was it worth it?

hearts

A Piece of Chalk

This is a true story of something that happened just a few years ago at USC.

There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic.

For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation.

At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the Students would do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students thought that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.

Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith... he hoped.

Finally, the day came. The professor said, "If there is any here who still believes in God, stand up!"

The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!"

He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken.

The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall.

The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them and of His power through Jesus.

Sometimes all we have to do is Standup.

hearts

Keep your fork!

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in order", she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

"There's one more thing," she said excitedly.

"What's that?" came the pastor's reply.

"This is very important," the woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked. "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor. The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork'.

It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?'. Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork....the best is yet to come".

The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better as coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come…

hearts

A Man Named Fleming

There was a man named Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.

There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. "I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer.

At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly. "I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll grow to a man you can be proud of."

And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming's son graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia.

What saved him? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said: What goes around comes around.

1. Work like you don't need the money. 2. Love like you've never been hurt. 3. Dance like nobody's watching.

hearts

Information, Please

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person - her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. "Information Please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time. My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone!

Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger. . ." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me." I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" "No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts." "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before would eat fruits and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called "Information Please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was un-consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?" She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better. Another day I was on the telephone. "Information Please." "Information," said the now familiar voice. "How do you spell fix?" I asked. All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was 9 years old, we moved across the country to Boston.

I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information , Please". Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well, "Information." I hadn't planned this but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?" There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed. "So it's really still you,' I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time." "I wonder", she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me." "I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls." I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. "Please do, she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered "Information." I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" She said. "Yes, a very old friend," I answered. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, she said. Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago." Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?" "Yes." "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you." The note said, "Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean." I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Anonymous

hearts

The Hospital Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his life would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

Epilogue...There is tremendous happiness in making others happy,despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy.

hearts

How To Meet God

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six- pack of root beer, and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry so he offered her a Twinkie. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps; he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later; his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God. But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." But before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we under estimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

hearts

Unconditional Acceptance

I am a mother of three and recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring, with qualities I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone, so I thought this would be a piece of cake.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went to McDonald's one morning. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch...an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and there standing behind me were two homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance.

He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient and the blue eyed gentle man was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).

Then I really felt it - the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope."

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope." We held hands for a moment and at that time we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give. We are not church goers but we are believers. That day showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.

She began to read and that is when I knew that we, as human beings and being part of God, share this need to heal people and be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:

UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.

Much love and compassion is sent to each and every person who may read this small story and to remind us how to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS - NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.

hearts

Who You Are Makes A Difference

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made. Using a process developed by Helice Bridges of Del Mar, California, she called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First she told them how the student made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letters which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week. One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons, and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened."

Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, "Well, sure. " The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss's jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, "Would you do me a favor? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people."

That night the boss came home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I'm a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says 'Who I Am Makes A Difference' on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you. "My days are really hectic and when I come home I don't pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You're a great kid and I love you!"

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, "I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn't think you loved me. Now I don't need to."

~Helice Bridges

hearts

Hit By a Brick

About ten years ago, a young and very successful executive name Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit to fast in his sleek, black 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old.

He watched for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and -WhUMP!- it smashed into the Jag's shiny black door!

SCREECH....!!!!! brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car.

He shouted at the kid, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?" Building up a head of steam, he went on, That's my new Jaguar, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?"

"Please, mister, Please...I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do!" pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop!" Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car. "It's my brother, mister," he said. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Sobbing the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's to heavy for me"

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining he lifted the young man back into his wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checked to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk towards home.

It was a long walk back to his sleek, shinny, black, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE - a long slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He keep the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention...Some bricks are softer than others.

Feel for the bricks of life coming at/to you.

hearts

Love

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat".

"Is the man of the house home?", they asked. "No", she said. "He's out". "Then we cannot come in", they replied. In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. Go tell them I am home and invite them in.

The woman went out and invited the men in. "We don't go into a house together", they replied. "Why is that?" she wanted to know.

One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth", he said pointing to one of his friends and said pointing to another one, "He is Success and I am Love". Then he added "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice", he said!! "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth".

His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success"? Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love. "Our home will be filled with love". "Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice", said the husband to his wife. "Go out and invite Love to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, "Which one of you is Love? "Please come in and be our guest." Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him.

Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: "I only invited Love, why are you coming in?"

The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever he goes we go with him. Wherever there is Love there is also wealth and success!!!!!!

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What God Really Thinks About Us. . .

"Come in," God said. "So, you would like to interview Me?"

"If you have the time," I said.

God smiled and said: "My time is eternity and is enough to do everything; what questions do you have in mind to ask me?"

"What surprises you most about mankind?"

God answered:

"That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..."

God's hands took mine and we were silent for while and then I asked..."As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"

God again replied with a smile:

"To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved. To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives. To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. All will be judged individually on their own merits, not as a group on a comparison basis! To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings. To learn that money can buy everything but happiness. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different. To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them...and likes them anyway. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves."

I sat there for awhile enjoying the moment. I thanked Him for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, "Anytime. I'm here 24 hours a day. . . . All you have to do is ask for me, and I'll answer."

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

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SynchroDestiny / Stop worrying, the key…

Welcome to our community...In Sanskrit, the word Veda means life. The Vedic tradition of knowledge, which is often referred to as Vedanta, deals with the meaning of life, the purpose of life, and the place of life in the universe as a whole. According to Vedanta, there are two symptoms of enlightenment. They are indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher level of consciousness.

The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things do not bother you anymore. You become lighthearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities -- and this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous. A miracle is just a synchronistic event in which the time span between the intention of an event and the manifestation of the event is dramatically shortened. That is what synchronicity is all about, and that is what spirituality is about, too. Whatever spiritual tradition you study anywhere in the world, you also hear about miracles. So losing your worries is one symptom of enlightenment and increased synchronicity is the second one. And that is it. Those are the only two symptoms of enlightenment.

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, it really does not matter. Whether you believe in the peace movement or not, it does not matter. After all, there are a lot of people who believe in lots of things; but they are full of worries and they cannot sleep at night. They have a big burden on their shoulders. A person might have been in a monastery for thirty years, but it does not matter. They are not moving in the right direction. Because according to Vedanta there are only two symptoms that indicate that we are becoming intimate with the spirit.

So you can see why I consider this program on synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence, to be a very important one. It is especially important because, in my opinion, synchronicity is not something that just happens by itself -- just as spiritual development does not happen by itself. We can foster synchronicity by introducing attention; and we can use synchronicity by introducing intention. When those two elements--attention and intention -- are linked to the phenomenon of meaningful coincidence, synchronicity is transformed into SynchroDestiny, and our lives are transformed into something that is truly magical.

The purpose of this program is to show what that means, and to explain in detail exactly how you can make it happen. The first time I heard about synchronicity was for me a synchronistic event. I was reading about Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, on a plane flight from New Delhi to London and then from London to New York. Jung was an early colleague of Freud, but they eventually had some fundamental disagreements. Freud believed that altered states of consciousness were essentially forms of psychosis -- forms of insanity; but Jung thought of altered states as the capacity to be in touch with a hidden reality. One of Jung's most important books is called "Dreams, Premonitions, and Wishes."

As I was reading this book on the plane from India to England, Jung was discussing about a patient who had described a dream. In this dream there was a very large beetle, a scarab beetle, and it was trying to break through the patient's window into his bedroom. As the patient was describing this dream to Carl Jung, they heard a rattle, and Jung looked around and saw that a beetle was trying to break in through the windowpane. So this was a synchronistic event. The fellow was describing his dream, and then that very thing happened in real life, just at the moment that he was describing it. So I was reading about this on the airplane. Then a few pages later the book said that because of their great differences, Jung and Freud finally parted ways, and Jung established a practice in Lucerne, Switzerland. Just at the moment that I read that sentence, the pilot announced that if you look out your window on the right side of the plane, we are flying over Lucerne, Switzerland. So immediately I was convinced that there was some message here for me, that I was going to pursue this topic of synchronicity I have been thinking about that topic ever since, and out of it has evolved this new concept of SynchroDestiny. In your own life, the more you become aware of these events, the more they will happen.

The more attention you put on synchronicity the more frequently you will encounter it. Because there is a very important principle that says whatever you put your attention on becomes stronger. If you withdraw your attention from something, it becomes weaker. So one of the first things I would like to suggest, on a practical level, is that you start paying attention to the synchronistic events that happen in your life. The more alert you are to them, the more they will happen. And then when you introduce intention, your intentions will be expressed and manifested through these events. So to sum this up for a moment, synchronicity is always a coming together of seemingly unlikely events. On the surface it seems like pure coincidence. But in reality there is much more to it than that. So right now at the outset, let me suggest something very practical that you should begin to do. Start putting attention on the synchronistic events that happen in your life -- and also introduce the intention that you will experience at least one synchronistic event each day. Then later, have the intention of experiencing at least two synchronistic events. Gradually you will see these things begin to accelerate in your life, because attention and intention makes any phenomenon grow stronger.

This message comes to you via the Namaste mailing list, hosted by Deepak Chopra and The Chopra Center for Well Being.

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Spending time with God. . . A Story

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer, and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie.

She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps; he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later; his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." But before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

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A Prayer

May there be peace within you today.

May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones,and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, and to bask in the sun, it is there for each and every one of you.



Copyright © 1983 Crystal Clear Reflections