When I Have Time

Here is a very thoughtful – and inspirational – poem from our old friend Anonymous:-

When I have time, so many things I’ll do
To make life happier and much more fair
For those whose lives are crowded now with care:
I’ll help to lift them from their low despair
When I have time.

When I have time, the friend I love so well
Shall know no more these weary, toiling days,
I’ll lead his feet in pleasant paths always,
And cheer his heart with words of sweetest praise.
When I have time.

When you have time, the friend you hold so dear
May be beyond the reach of all your sweet intent,.
May never know that you so kindly meant
To fill his life with bright content.
When you had time.

Now is the time: Speed, friend, no longer wait
To scatter loving smiles and words of cheer
To those around whose lives are now so drear;
They may not need you in the far-off years.
Now is the time!

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Courage of Louise Braille

The young teacher sighed. It was hard to discover a system that would enable blind people to ‘read’.

Louis Braille knew only too well the frustration of trying to learn anything when books and documents were unseen. As a small boy, he had been blinded while playing with a tool in his father’s workshop.

His parents and friends had been determined to educate him, and that was how he came to be living and teaching in the Blind Academy in Paris. Here he was determined to use his training to help other blind people, and that was why the discovery of some method of  ‘reading’ was so very important.

Nowadays we know he succeeded in inventing an extremely successful method, but it was against a background of enormous difficulties and even spiteful opposition from some people.

Yet Braille never lost courage. When he reached one goal, he moved to another. As a gifted musician, he knew the joy music brings, and was determined to provide blind musicians with musical scores they could ‘read’ and use..

He used his talents to make the world a better place for people with the same handicap as he had himself.

Marvelling at the wonderful things blind people can do nowadays, we know he succeeded in helping future generations beyond his wildest hopes.

What a fantastic inspiration he is to us all!

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

A Basket of Problems

Some years ago a group of conventioneers gathered at a ski resort to conduct their annual meeting. It was autumn, so there was no snow and no skiing, but the town was picturesque and the fall scenery was as pretty as a postcard. The leaves were scarlet and the mountains surrounding the town were spectacular.

Hundreds of conventioneers came from every part of the country; young and old, rich and poor, and in all shapes and sizes. They shared common interests, though their backgrounds and careers were quite varied.

Twenty of the conventioneers were put up at a large bed and breakfast near the outskirts of town. A little off the beaten path and nestled on the side of the mountain, the large Victorian house offered the perfect view and was an ideal setting for the weary travellers.

After a few days, the guests became better acquainted, friendship developed, and a camaraderie was felt within the group.

The new found friends seemed to particularly enjoy the light hearted conversations that took place every evening after dinner in front of the inn’s huge stone fireplace.

As the logs blazed, the fire cast a beautiful dancing glow around the main room. Some sat in rocking chairs, others snuggled on the large sofas, and there were those who enjoyed sitting on the blankets and pillows on the floor. Everyone sipped their beverages and laughed at the stories told of their day’s convention activities. But one night the stories around the fireplace took a different twist.

The conversation turned serious when Mike, a young man in his 20’s, confessed that he had just been diagnosed with cancer. While it was treatable and he stood an excellent chance of being cured, he was nonetheless distraught.

A middle aged couple, Tom and Cheryl, offered their support and understanding. They had just been informed that their child needed a kidney transplant. The news had been emotionally devastating to the family.

A woman tearfully explained how she had recently lost her husband to a car accident. Another person told that he had just lost his job and was at wit’s end.

The evening turned gut wrenching as others began to describe horrible aspects of their “normal” lives or lives of their loved ones. From depression and drug addiction, to eating disorders and relationship problems — no one seemed immune from some sort of hardship.

Finally, an elderly gentleman — a man who was at the convention by himself and only known to the group as Mr. Hayes, interjected himself into the conversation.

Mr. Hayes had a distinguished look about him, and while no one knew exactly where he came from, he spoke with a gentle voice that engendered confidence and assuredness.
During the past days, he had smiled and laughed, evidently enjoying the company, but he had not said very much. People just looked at him and thought he was a “nice old man.

After listening to everyone’s concerns and problems, Mr. Hayes looked over at the hostess and asked her if she could get a paper and pen for everyone in the room. She returned in a minute, complying with the unusual request.

“Do me a favour,” Mr. Hayes asked. “We’re going to try something and I need your cooperation. On the small piece of paper please write down the three biggest problems you are facing in your personal life right now. Don’t sign your name. We’ll keep everything confidential.”

The group began to ponder and found the experiment fascinating; not knowing what was to follow. After everyone was done writing down their problems, Mr. Hayes asked everyone to fold their paper and place it in a small basket that was placed in front of the fireplace.

There were curious looks throughout the room, but again, everyone co-operated, wondering what would happen next.
Mr. Hayes shook the basket and held it above everyone’s head as he walked around the room and asked each person to pick a paper from the basket. After he was done, he sat back down and looked around the room.

“Friends, open the paper and just read to yourself the problems that you chose,” Mr. Hayes explained. “And please, be as honest as you can.”

Then, Mr. Hayes glanced at the woman sitting on his left and asked, “Lisa, would you like to trade your problems that you wrote down with those that you chose from the basket?” “No,” Lisa said.

Next, Mr. Hayes asked the man sitting next to Lisa the same question. “Would you like to trade the problems you wrote down for those that you chose from the basket?” Again the reply was “No.”

Mr. Hayes went around the entire room. Everyone had a chance to respond. Remarkably, the answers were all the same — no, no, no, no, no… Comments ranged from “I can deal with my own problems, but I can’t deal with what I chose out of the basket,” to “Wow – these make my problems look like nothing. Forget this.” Mr. Hayes settled back in his cushioned rocking chair while the fire crackled in the background.

He asked, “Do your problems seem so difficult now when you see what others must endure? Most of you wish you were in someone else’s shoes, and yet, when you get a chance to trade your problems for theirs, none of you are willing.

“Don’t you see? Tonight you’ve learned, by your own admissions, that despite the hardships you face, and despite the worries that grind away at you and cause you to lose sleep at night — despite all that — you’ve come to appreciate and understand the simple fact that the problems you face are nothing compared to what others must deal with.

In light of everyone else’s problems, your own problems seem manageable. If nothing else, that’s something to be grateful for.

Sure, we like to complain. It’s our nature and it’s also therapeutic to express ourselves and get our frustrations off our chests. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, it can be a healthy thing to do. It helps us sort things out. And heaven knows, we can always find something to complain about.”

The group found themselves mesmerized with Mr. Hayes’ comments, with several people shaking their heads in agreement, as if something amazing has just dawned on them.

“But friends,” he said, “the burdens that have been placed upon us are there for a reason; because without our problems, we would not search for answers. And if we led our lives without searching for answers, we would never become better, or stronger, or more understanding.

Sometimes it takes a serious problem to wake us up to what’s really important in life.

As an example, you’ll find that many of the answers you’re looking for can be found by helping others facing similar problems, and that act of service is what’s really important.

“You see, the key to your enrichment, to your happiness and peace, is to take the problems you have and look at them as a chance to find an answer. Learn your lessons well, and then to take those lessons and answers and use them to become a better person — for yourself and for others.

I’m not saying that you have to like the challenges you face. No one does. But you can look at those challenges as an opportunity to do some good.

Now with that in mind, remember this… Some people let the world and the problems they face dictate what they think and how they live their lives. And yes, some people just love to wallow in misery. But if the truth be known, it should and can be the opposite.

You have the power within you to change your world and put your problems behind you as you move forward.

Ironically, the power to do that comes from the very things you see as problems and setbacks. That’s what most people don’t understand. For every setback you experience there is an equal or greater blessing that accompanies it.

You may not realise this, but your struggles are allowing you become a better person each and every day. You just have to open your eyes and see it.

The blessings that come from your struggles are sometimes hidden and many times you have to look long and hard. But by finding them in due course, and by counting those blessings, you will discover a secret of the ages, an undeniable truth, which seems to have escaped most of humanity.

That secret is very simple: The more you count your blessings, the more blessings are bestowed upon you. If you don’t believe me, just try it and see what happens.”

The group was spellbound, just staring at Mr Hayes, reflecting upon his words, his sincerity and conviction. His comforting knowledge seemed to vanquish the stresses and worries which had infected the earlier conversation.

Mr. Hayes took his last sip of hot chocolate and excused himself to retire to his room. Those present continued to discuss what they had learned, and by the end of the evening, all had concurred that Mr. Hayes had hit on something.

Each person was able to discuss a problem they had which could be turned into a blessing.

The young man who was diagnosed with cancer was determined to use his experience to educate others on the importance of early detection.

The couple with a son who needed a kidney transplant dedicated themselves to join the campaign to encourage others to sign donor cards.

The woman who had lost her husband decided to carry on his memory by volunteering to pick up where her husband had left off in his community work.

The man who had lost his job, told himself that he would use this opportunity to do what he had always wanted to do — write a book that he had been thinking about for years.

Rather than dwelling on their problems, everyone had learned to use their problems as a stepping stone toward bettering themselves and helping others.

Rather than getting wrapped up in self-pity, the experience of confronting their problems and seeking answers proved to be a valuable lesson indeed. Someone commented, “Now I finally realise what looking at the glass as half full means.”

The next morning at breakfast, the hostess reported to the group that Mr. Hayes’ room was empty and that he must have left very early.

During subsequent conventions, the friends often reminisced about their gathering at the secluded mountain resort and of their fond memories of the fireplace conversations and the time their problems ended up in a basket.

Interestingly, not a single person had seen or heard of Mr. Hayes’ whereabouts since that time.

Lee Simonson

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Folded Napkin

If this doesn’t light your fire — your wood is very wet!!

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counsellor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn’t sure I wanted one.

I wasn’t sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome.

I wasn’t worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don’t generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded “truck stop germ”; the pairs of white shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with.

I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn’t have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn’t care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty.

Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully place dishes and glasses onto a cart and meticulously wipe the table with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks.

Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That’s why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn’t unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war cry and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. “OK, Frannie, what was that all about?” he asked. We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.”

“I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?” Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie’s surgery, then sighed: “Yeah, I’m glad he is going to be OK” she said. “But I don’t know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills.

From what I hear, they’re barely getting by as it is.”

Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn’t had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn’t want to replace him, the girls were busying their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I didn’t get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off,” she said. “This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup.” She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it.

On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed “Something For Stevie.” “Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,” she said, “so I told about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.” She handed me another paper napkin that had “Something For Stevie” scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.

Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: “truckers.”

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he’s been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn’t matter at all that it was a holiday.

He called ten times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn’t stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

“Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,” I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. “Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!” I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room.

Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.

“First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess,” I said.

I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had “Something for Stevie” printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother.

“There’s more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems.”Happy Thanksgiving.”

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what’s funny?

While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it fulfilling the need!

If you shed a tear, hug yourself because you are a compassionate person.

Do All the Good You Can

The following words were written by John Wesley, who, as many of you probably know, was the founder of Methodism:-

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
At all the times you an,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Not only did he write those inspirational thoughts but he also put them into practice.

When he was still only a young man, he decided that he would only live on a very small percentage of his income, and that he would give all the money remaining to people, with whom he came into contact, who were in great need of financial assistance.

And, throughout the following years, even though his income began to increase and become more plentiful, he still only kept a very modest amount of money for himself so that he was able to help more and more people.

Should we not be following his example?

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey