June 1st 2012 3:38 pm
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An Unforgetable Cab Ride
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One night I took a fare at 2:30 AM, when I arrived to collect, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once.
But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened.
A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."
"Oh, you're such a good man," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"
"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.
"Oh, I don't mind," she said "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
"What route would you like me to take?" I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," I said.
"You have to make a living," she answered. "Oh, there are other passengers," I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. Our hug ended with her remark, "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy." After a slight pause, she added, "Thank you."
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware, beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
June 9th 2012 7:48 am
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The Two Wolves
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice,"Let me tell you a story: I have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."
He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."
June 22nd 2012 6:55 am
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The Two Gates
A man was walking down a road next to a tall glistening white wall. Beside him walked his favorite dog who he realized with a start had been dead for several years. He realized that he must be dead also.
With a shrug of his shoulders he set off down the path with a hand on his dog's head. A little down the road he saw a beautiful pearl gate that glistened in the sunlight. Standing next to it was a beautiful man. When he got to the gate he asked where the gates lead to. The man replied "Heaven."
He asked if he could come in and get a drink for himself and his dog because the day was very warm. The beautiful man replied that he could, but dogs were not allowed into Heaven. The man smiled, patted his dog and turned away from the gates to continue down the path.
After a little while he came to a much shabbier gate that was in much need of attention. Beside it stood a somewhat dirty farmer. Again the man asked where the gate lead to, and again he was told "Heaven". He then asked for a drink for him and his dog, and the man gladly gave him a cup and a bowl. After he filled the bowl, and drank his cup from the fountain inside he asked the man if he knew that the other gatekeeper was claiming that the other gate also led to Heaven.
The Farmer said "Yes, but that was Hell." A bit confused, the man asked if that upset the Farmer. "No," he said giving the dog a pat, "They help us weed out the ones who would leave their best friends behind."
June 27th 2012 7:15 am
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The Last Butterfly
"Poor little butterfly," the young girl said. "Poor little butterfly."
Then reaching down slowly so as to not scare it away, she slid her tiny fingers underneath, urging it to step upon her hand.
It would appear to anyone that this delicate creature was lifeless leaving behind remains of what once was.
But not her. She sensed something. She knew right away that there was indeed some life left in this most fragile example of God's work.
The butterfly nearly tumbled onto her hand, wings folded straight up, apparently unable to fly.
Then, perhaps it was the warmth of her hands or the welcoming response to the attention it was given, but the butterfly began to walk slowly up to her palm.
"Poor little butterfly," she repeated again as she brought it closer to her face.
"If I could kiss you I would, " she said.
The butterfly, appearing to respond, slowly opened its wings, to reveal its beautiful designand colors. Now open fully, the child brought it closer and gave an angel's kiss of love.
Just off in the distance watching this precious moment, her grandmother walked toward them.
"Oh, you have found it," she said. "I was waiting for it and wondered where it was."
The child looked a bit surprised and said. "You were waiting for this butterfly? Why?"
"It is sent to remind us," grandmother said.
"But it is dying. I feel sorry for it. Don't they fly away when it gets cold?"
"Yes, they do. But one is always chosen to remain behind," she said.
Maybe this was just grandmother's way of softening the the truth so that the child would not be saddened by the thought of the butterfly dying. But what unfolded here was an incredible moment, an opportunity seen and taken to teach a lesson of love.
"Why would they choose to be left behind?" the child asked as she gently stroked the butterfly.
"They don't choose to be, they are chosen," she told her.
The child looked down again and held it closer.
"It is a great honor to be chosen. The story goes that God realized that when winter comes color disappears. The color of the flowers fade into the earth and all the delicate butterflies leave for warmer places. So, God decided that one should remain to remind us of the beautiful world He has created and the promise of Spring's return."
The child looked down and then lifting her head slowly, she whispered, "And I found it, grandmother."
"Yes, and with that you have a great responsibility," she said as she held the young girl's face in her hands.
"You must now take time to see God's colors in the darkness of winter. You must be the sunshine. You must help those who have forgotten how beautiful life is, to see the color of God's love for them."
"Oh, grandmother. I don't know how to," she said.
"It is simple. Be yourself. People believe only what they see. Like the flowers and butterflies. But God makes people beautiful inside. It is up to us to bring that beauty out by loving each other, helping each other and when we find someone who has fallen, just like that butterfly, it is up to us to pick them up, carress them and care for them. For one day it may very well be His Chosen One left behind."
The child moved closer to her grandmother as they sat admiring God's messenger.
Take time to see the beauty, the colors of God in the people around you.
You, too may find the "Poor little butterfly!"
July 5th 2012 10:12 am
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Some Summer Thoughts
Do you know why a car's windshield is so large & the rear view mirror is so small? Because our past is not as important as our future.
So, look ahead and move on. Friendship is like a book. It takes few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.
All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If going wrong, don't worry, they can't last long either.
Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, "Relax, it's just a bend, not the end!"
When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities; when God doesn't solve your problems, he has faith in your abilities.
A blind person asked St. Anthony: "Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision."
Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles; it takes away today's peace.
July 8th 2012 6:41 pm
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What Happens in Heaven When We Pray?
I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section". Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.
Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section, my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed." How is it that there is no work going on here? I asked.
"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments"
"How does one acknowledge God's blessings? " I asked.
"Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord."
"What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.
"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy."
"And if you received this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."
"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day. "
"If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ... You are ahead of 700 million people in the world."
"If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world."
"If your parents are still alive and still married ...you are very rare."
"If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair..."
Ok, what now? How can I start?
If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you care to, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.
July 13th 2012 12:10 pm
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The Treasures Inside
A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.
They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him.
He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.
There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.
July 15th 2012 6:15 pm
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The Pretty One
This was the last litter of puppies we were going to allow our Cocker Spaniel to have. It had been a very long night for me. Precious, our only black cocker, was having a very difficult time with the delivery of her puppies.
I laid on the floor beside her large four-foot square cage, watching her every movement. Watching and waiting just in case we had to rush her to the veterinarian.
After six hours the puppies started to appear. The first born was a black and white party dog. The second and third puppies were tan and brown in color. The fourth and fifth were also spotted black and white. "One, two, three, four, five," I counted to myself as I walked down the hallway to wake up Judy and tell her that everything was fine. As we walked back down the hallway and into the spare bedroom, I noticed a sixth puppy had been born and was now laying all by itself over to the side of the cage. I picked up the small puppy and laid it on top of the
large pile of puppies, who were whining and trying nurse on the mother.
Instantly Precious pushed the small puppy away from rest of the group and refused to recognize it as a member of her family.
"Something's wrong," said Judy.
I reached over and picked up the puppy. My heart sank inside my chest when I saw the little puppy was hare-lipped and could not close its little mouth. We had gone through this once before last year with another one of our cockers. That experience like to have killed me when the puppy died and I had to bury it. If there was any way to save this animal I was going to give it my best shot.
All the puppies born that night, with the exception of the small hare-lipped pup, were very valuable because of their unusual coloring. Most would bring between five to seven hundred dollars each. The next day I took the puppy to the vet. I was told nothing could be done unless we were willing to spend about a thousand dollars to try and correct the defect. He told us that the puppy would die mainly because it could not suckle.
After returning home Judy and I decided that we could not afford to spend that kind of money without getting some type of assurances from the vet that the puppy had a chance to live. However, that did not stop me from purchasing a syringe and feeding the puppy by hand. Which I did very day and night, every two hours, for more than ten days.
The fifth week I placed an ad in the newspaper, and within a week we had taken deposits on all of the pups, except the one with the deformity. The little guy had learned to eat on his own as long as it was soft canned food.
Late that afternoon I had gone to the store to pick up a few groceries. Upon returning I happened to see the old retired school teacher, who lived across the street from us, waving at me. She had read in the paper that we had puppies for sale and was wondering if she might buy one from us for her grandson. I told her all the puppies had been sold, but I would keep my eyes open for anyone else who might have a cocker spaniel for sale. I also mentioned we never kept a deposit should someone change their mind, and if so I would let her know. Within days all but one of the puppies had been picked up by their new owners. This left me with
one brown and tan cocker as well as the smaller hare-lipped puppy.
Two days passed without me hearing anything from the gentleman, who had placed a deposit on the tan and brown pup. So I telephoned the school teacher and told her I had one puppy left and that she was welcome to come and look at it. She advised me that she was going to pick up her grandson and would come over at about eight o'clock that evening. Judy and I were eating supper when we heard a knock on the front door. When I opened the door, the man, who had placed a $100 deposit on the dog, was standing there. We walked inside where I filled out the paperwork, he paid me the balance of the money, and I handed him the puppy.
Judy and I did not know what to do or say if the teacher showed up with her grandson. Sure enough at exactly eight o'clock the doorbell rang. I opened the door, and there was the school teacher with her grandson standing behind her. I explained to her the man had come for the puppy just an hour before, and there were no puppies left.
"I'm sorry, Jeffery. They sold all the puppies," she told her grandson.
Just at that moment, the small puppy left in the bedroom began to yelp.
"My puppy! My puppy!" yelled the little boy as he ran out from behind his grandmother.
I just about fell over when I saw the small child was hare-lipped. The boy ran past me as fast as he could, down the hallway to where the puppy was still yelping.
When the three of us made it to the bedroom, the small boy was holding the puppy in his arms. He looked up at his grandmother and said, "Look Grandma. They sold all the puppies except the pretty one, and he looks just like me."
Well, old Grandma wasn't the only one with tears in her eyes that day. Judy and I stood there, not knowing what to do.
"Is this puppy for sale?" asked the school teacher.
"My grandma told me these kind of puppies are real expensive and that I have to take real good care of it," said the little boy, who was now hugging the puppy.
"Yes, ma'am. This puppy is for sale."
The lady opened her purse, and I could see several one-hundred dollar bills sticking out of her wallet. I reached over and pushed her hand back down into her purse so that she would not pull her wallet out.
"How much do you think this puppy is worth?" I asked the boy.
"About a dollar?" He replied.
"No. This puppy is very, very expensive... More than a dollar," I told him.
"I'm afraid so." Said his grandmother.
The boy stood there pressing the small puppy against his cheek.
"We could not possibly take less than two dollars for this puppy," Judy said, squeezing my hand. "Like you said, "It's the pretty one." She continued.
The school teacher took out two dollars and handed it to the young boy.
"It's your dog now, Jeffery. You pay the man."
I think it must be a wonderful feeling for any young person to look at their selves into the mirror and see nothing, except "The pretty one
July 24th 2012 1:15 pm
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I Am Your Dog
I am your dog, and I have a little something I'd like to whisper in your ear.
I know that you humans lead busy lives.
Some have to work, some have children to raise.
It always seems like you are running here and there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life.
Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer.
See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours?
They are slightly cloudy now.
That comes with age.
The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle.
You smile at me; I see love in your eyes.
What do you see in mine?
Do you see a spirit?
A soul inside, who loves you as no other could in the world?
A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for the just a simple moment of your time?
That is all I ask.
To slow down, if even for a few minutes to be with me. So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of others of my kind, passing.
Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat.
Sometimes, we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes.
Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land.
I may not be here tomorrow; I may not be here next week.
Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just 'One more day' with me.
Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me.
We have NOW, together.
So come, sit down here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes.
What do you see?
If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart.
Come to me not as 'alpha' or as 'trainer' or even 'Mom or Dad', come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another's eyes, and talk.
I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general.
You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things with.
Someone very different from you, and here I am.
I am a dog, but I am alive.
I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls I do not think of you as a 'Dog on two feet'.
I know what you are.
You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.
Now come sit with me, on the floor.
Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for 15 minutes.
Look deep into my eyes, and whisper to my ears Speak with your heart, with your joy and I will know your true self.
We may not have tomorrow, and life is oh so very short.
(on behalf of canines everywhere)
August 19th 2012 6:27 am
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Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings
lived; happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the others,
One day it was announced to all of the feelings that the island
was going to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
So all the feelings prepared their boats to leave.
Love was the only one that stayed. She wanted to preserve
the island paradise until the last possible moment.
When the island was almost totally under, Love decided it was
time to leave. She began looking for someone to ask for help.
Just then Richness was passing by in a grand boat. Love asked,
"Richness, Can I come with you on your boat?"
Richness answered, " I'm sorry, but there is a lot of silver and
gold on my boat and there would be no room for you anywhere."
Then Love decided to ask Vanity for help who was passing in a
beautiful vessel. Love cried out, "Vanity, help me please."
"I can't help you", Vanity said, "You are all wet and will
damage my beautiful boat."
Next, Love saw Sadness passing by. Love said, "Sadness, please
let me go with you." Sadness answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but, I
just need to be alone now."
Then, Love saw Happiness. Love cried out, " Happiness, please
take me with you." But Happiness was so overjoyed that he
didn't hear Love calling to him.
Love began to cry. Then, she heard a voice say, "Come Love,
I will take you with me." It was an elder.
Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that she forgot to ask the
elder his name.
When they arrived on land the elder went on his way.
Love realized how much she owed the elder.
Love then found Knowledge and asked,
"Who was it that helped me?"
"It was Time", Knowledge answered.
"But why did Time help me when no one else would?", Love asked.
Knowledge smiled and with deep wisdom and sincerity, answered,
"Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."
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