Count blessings, limit resolutions
For the first time in many, many years, our family was complete for the Christmas holidays. All three grandchildren were in town with two from Chicago—and I was reminded of the saying that “grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” As Mary H. Waldrip put it: “They are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.”
What we have not learned from experience we can now learn from our grandchildren, allowing us to be young all over again. Their presence was the reason for the absence of my Monday column last week, as the days were spent reacquainting ourselves. I can now say that my grandkids are geniuses because they think I’m perfect. In turn, I believe that a grandchild is a blessing so rare and so true because while parenting is a necessity, grandparenting is a luxury.
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In terms of blessings, the top of the list would be family—a patient, loving, and understanding partner and three wonderful kids who have provided us with three equally wonderful grandchildren. What comes to mind is the prose of Kahlil Gibran, who expressed in beautiful lines the relationship between parents and children, particularly the roles each of them play in life:
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you
You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit not even in your dreams
You may strive to be like them
But seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite
And He bends you with His might
That His arrow may go swift and far
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness
For even as He loves the arrow that flies
So He loves also the bow that is stable.
We can only hope that on leaving the bow, the arrow flies swift and far, unerring in its accuracy as it moves to the target set by the Great Archer above.
Good health has enabled us to enjoy life in the face of a 14-year-old cardiac bypass operation and several angioplasty interventions. Regular doses of insulin have stabilized our glucose levels, allowing the luxury of sweets from time to time. We have managed to adjust to the changes that have been brought about by the aging process.
Golf and old friends have provided us with many delightful moments. This goes to show you don’t need millions to appreciate and partake of the good life. Now if the coming year brings us a hole-in-one, it would be the high point of my golfing career.
Books are blessings that we often take for granted. The pace of life has slowed down quite a bit, giving us more time to enjoy quiet moments for a good read. Nothing heavy. The latest editions to my mini library are “The Generals” by Thomas Ricks, a military journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Fiasco.” A Christmas gift from Chicago is “The Bully Pulpit” on US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, and the golden age of journalism by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Masters and Commanders” by Andrew Roberts dwells on the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and their senior military advisers during World War II.
As you will note, my preference has always been for historical narratives and biographies.
One of my great joys visiting the grandchildren in America is spending time at some Barnes & Noble bookstore, just looking around and then finding a quiet corner for browsing through a couple of books. Next door is a small coffee shop in case one gets hungry or thirsty.
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We are so used to praying in our lives. Many of us start the day with a prayer and also end it with another prayer. We say grace before every meal and a lot of our other activities are preceded by supplications to the Almighty for assistance and support.
But did you ever think that prayers could also be dangerous? This is for the simple reason that very often, we are asking for something.
Take, for instance, this particular individual. He was walking in the woods one day, enjoying the beautiful scenery around him, when suddenly he fell into a deep ravine. Fortunately, his fall was broken by a small tree sticking out of the side of the ravine more than a hundred feet from the bottom. He was able to hang on to the tree with both arms but after a while, he found himself getting weaker and weaker. He realized that it was only a matter of time before he would have to let go.
He thought about his situation and decided to pray to the heavens for help. In reply, a loud voice boomed from above saying, “I will help you but you must follow my instructions.” In desperation, the man answered that he would do anything and follow any orders just to be saved. “Alright, the first thing you must do is to let go of the tree,” the voice from above went on.
The man looked down again and saw the sharp rocks at the bottom of the ravine. After some thought, he shouted back at the heavens: “Is there anybody else up there?”
Sometimes the Good Lord has a way of calling our bluff. We must be willing to follow His guidance. Our prayers should always be backed by faith. We should focus on thanking the Lord for all the blessings that have come our way and let Him take care of the rest.
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There are a number of resolutions I intended to make. But life is too short to be hemmed in by a lot of parameters, so I would rather follow what my father used to say quite often: “Too little of anything can turn out to be just as bad as too much. The key word is moderation in everything.”
A happy and prosperous New Year to all!
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