Friday, 30 January 2015


Red figured wine jug with two horse chariot passing a finish post.  British Museum.
Photo by Carole Raddato, Frankfurt, Germany.

Life is a ... what? A dream? A walking shadow?
   A joke, as Gilbert said, That's just begun?
Better to say a game of chance, a lottery
   You may have lost,or, at the reckoning, won.

A game indeed, a cap from which each player
   In times gone past drew his allotted spill,
Which left him on unequal terms with others,
   A hand i' cap, to test his strength of will.

Fortunes may sometimes seem to rob the gifted,
   But gives them other qualities instead:
As colours blazed from Renoir's crippled fingers,
   As music thundered in Beethoven's head.

'How sad!' we say, embarrassed by affliction,
   Buying a flag to fit a buttonhole;
Think of the damaged who are not defeated,
   The drowners in self-pity who are whole.

There was a horse that triumphed in the derby,
   There was a rider who never would say die:
The heart may know a hundred ways of winning,
   The only way to fail is not to try.

              by Roger Woddis  (1917-93)     This poem was published in the Radio Times in 1981,                                                                             according to the yellowing cutting in my scrap-book.
I think the second line of the last verse is a reference to the steeple-chase jockey Bob Champion who fought his battle with cancer to return to the sport to win the English Grand National in 1981 on Aldaniti.  This horse had, in 1979, received severe fractures to his right hind leg and the vets. had recommended that he be destroyed.  A winning combination in so many respects.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Touch of The Master's Hand

                                                  Violin - Vuillaume  photo by Frinck51

'Twas battered and scarred, and the Auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin
As he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid for this old violin?
Who'll start the bidding?" he cried.
"A dollar! - who'll make it two?
Two dollars - who'll make it three?
Three dollars, once, three dollars twice,
And going and gone", said he.
But no!
From the room far back came a grey haired man.
He wiped the dust from the old violin
And tightened up all the strings.
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.
The music ceased and the Auctioneer
In a voice soft and low
Said, "What am I bid for the old violin?"
As he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars! - who'll make it two?
Two thousand! - who'll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going gone!" said he.
The people cheered but some of them cried,
"We do not understand!  What changed its worth?"
Swift came the reply,
"Twas the touch of the Master's Hand"
And there's many a man
With his life out of tune,
Who's battered and torn with sin
And auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He's going once, he's going twice,
He's going and he's almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Cannot quite understand
The worth of a soul
Or the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Master's hand.

I've had this piece of paper in my scrap-book for some years.  The poem is not attributed to anyone but is obviously of American origin.  If you can enlighten me please do so.

Thanks to Ashley I can now attribute the poem, which was written in 1921, to Myra Brooks Welch  (1877-1959)  of La Verne, California, USA.

Friday, 23 January 2015

When the Soul finds God

God never discourages a seeker by judging his or her beliefs to be wrong.  Rather, God allows each person to recognise spiritual error or truth by degrees.

 The story is told of a poor grass cutter who found a beautiful stone in the jungle.  he had often heard of people finding valuable diamonds and thought this must be one.  He took it to a jeweller and showed it to him with delight.  Being a kind and sympathetic man, the jeweller knew that if he bluntly told the grass cutter that his stone was worthless glass, the man would either refuse to believe it or else fall into a state of depression.  So instead, the jeweller offered the grass cutter some work in his shop so that he might become better acquainted with precious stones and their value.

Meanwhile, the man kept his stone safely locked away in a strongbox.  Several weeks later, the jeweller encouraged the man to bring out his stone and examine it.  As soon as he took it out of the chest and looked at it more closely, he immediately saw that it was worthless.  His disappointment was great, but he went to the jeweller and said: "I thank you that you did not destroy my hope but aided me instead to see my mistake on my own.  If you will have me, I will stay with you and faithfully serve you, as you are a good and kind master."  In the same way, God leads back to truth those who have wandered into error.  When they recognise the truth for themselves, they gladly and joyfully give themselves in obedient service.

Some say that desire is the root cause of all pain and sorrow.  According to this philosophy, salvation consists in eliminating all desire, including any desire for eternal bliss or communion with God.  But when someone is thirsty, do we tell him to kill his thirst instead of giving him water to drink?  To drive out thirst without quenching it with life-sustaining water is to drive out life itself.  The result is death, not salvation.  Thirst is an expression of our need for water and a sign of hope that somewhere there is water that can satisfy our thirst.  Similarly, the deep longing in our soul is a clear sign of hope that spiritual peace exists.  Something can satisfy our thirsty souls.  When the soul finds God, the author of that spiritual thirst, it receives far greater satisfaction than any thirsty man who receives water.  When the soul's desire is satisfied, we have found heaven.

                                                                        Extract from the teachings of Sundar Singh

Saturday, 17 January 2015

I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet so He drew me aside,
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the hustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet though at first I rebelled'
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld,
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things,
Though weakened in body my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and strong.
He loved me so gently He drew me along.

I needed the quiet, no prison my bed
But a beautiful valley of blessing instead;
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide,
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.

                                by Alice Hansche Mortenson (1898-1988)  Racine, Wisconsin, USA

This poem, in my scrapbook, is in a cutting I took from 'The Universe' for Sunday February 1990.
It claims that the poem was written by Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, towards the end of his life; but a little research has now led me to correctly ascribe the work to Alice Hansch Mortenson.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

On Growing Old


Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release  me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.  Make me thoughtful but not moody: helpful but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.  Seal my lips on my aches and pains.  They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.  I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.  Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint - some of them are so hard to live with - but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.  Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.  And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. so.


Prayer of a 17th. Century Nun; anonymous.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A Promise of Hope

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

                                                                        Jeremiah  Ch.29 v 11-13    (NKJV)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A prayer for those who live alone.

                                                       'Loneliness' by Bert Kaufmann

I live alone dear Lord, stay by my side.
In all my daily needs, be Thou my guide.
Grant me good health, for that indeed I pray,
To carry on my work, from day to day.
Keep pure my mind, my thoughts, my every deed,
Let me be kind, unselfish in my neighbours needs.
Spare me from fire, from flood, malicious tongues,
From thieves, from fear, from evil ones.
If sickness or an accident befall,
Then humbly Lord, I pray, be Thou my call,
And when I'm feeling low or in despair,
Lift up my head and help me in prayer.

I live alone dear Lord, yet have no fear,
Because I feel Your presence ever near. 


Friday, 2 January 2015


Extract from the Editorial - 'Alive'.  Jan/Feb 1979

....... why not try to build all this year's resolutions round a central theme of unselfish undertakings?  They need not be world-shattering; in fact the simplest and most obvious are likely to be the most effective.

You could start with a plan to smile at strangers with whom you come into contact in your everyday routine - especially choosing those with glum expressions.  When you have mastered this difficult art and overcome the surprises that it involves, try using the power of thought to better your enmities.  This is perhaps the hardest lesson of all to learn, and even more difficult to put into practice.  It is the essence of Christianity - and all other major religions - it is easy to be nice to those you love, but to be equally nice - without any underlying malice of thought - to those you hate, is one of the most difficult lessons, in life, to learn.

But the power of thought - for good or ill - is quite devastating.  Thought waves can bend spoons and move mountains, but they have a more useful and elementary function to perform: to make this world a better place, by the application of kind thoughts, loving thoughts, for all around us.

Try it today.  Think of some of the good points of those with whom you are at loggerheads.  Find a quiet moment to send them genuine, warm thoughts of kindness.  The effect won't be immediate, but you can be sure that there will be some benefit for all.

We would all like to make this world a better place to enjoy our days in peace, but it will not be achieved overnight.  Remember; every journey of a thousand miles starts with but one single step.  How about making one today.