Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Commonsense Beatitudes

Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves; they will always have entertainment.

Blessed are those who can distinguish between a mountain and a molehill; they will save themselves a lot of trouble.

Blessed are those who can rest and sleep without looking for excuses; they will become wise.

Blessed are those who know how to be silent and listen; they will learn new things.

Blessed are those who are intelligent enough not to take themselves too seriously; they will be appreciated.

Blessed are you if you can look seriously at small things and peacefully at serious things; you will go far in life.

Blessed are you if you can admire a smile and forget a scowl; your path will be sunlit.

Blessed are you if you can interpret the attitudes of others with good will, even when appearances are to the contrary; you may seem naive but that is the price of charity.

Blessed are those who think before acting and who laugh before thinking; they will avoid foolish mistakes.

Blessed are you if you know how to be silent and smile even when you are interrupted, contradicted or walked on; the gospel is beginning to take root in your heart.

Blessed are you especially if you know how to recognise the Lord in all those you meet; you have found the true light, true wisdom.

Fr. Joseph Folliet

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Talking Chicken

OK, where am I going with this title? I'm like the talking chicken. It's all to do with something I don't consider is my greatest strength and that is self-promotion. After having six books published, you'd think I'd be less awkward about getting out there and selling them, but the truth is that my old habits have been very hard to squash. They spring up even now.

One day at High School, some of my friends were going about whispering that I was a show-off. I still get the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it, and remember the decision I made to never, ever put myself in the position of being accused of that again. On top of that, the Bible tells us to wait for others promote us, doesn't it? Jesus Himself told the parable of the banquet guest who was asked to step down from the place of honour. Like many of us, I took it all on board and decided to be a model of humility and modesty. But the extent of this attitude has definitely got in the way of selling my books, which was not what I intended at all. I came across a little story that helped.

A man heard about a rare talking chicken that could speak five languages. He set out on a world-wide search to find it. After an exhausting search, he discovered one in a pet shop at a bazaar and asked the owner to post it to his home address. When he arrived home in two days, he asked his wife if the bird had arrived and she said, "Yes."
"Where is it?"
"In the oven."
"Arrrgh, that was a one-of-a-kind bird that could talk five languages!"
And his wife replied, "Well, why didn't he speak up?"

So I realised that I've been behaving just like this poor bird. When Jesus said to wait for others to promote us, I think his point was that we need to remember that all the good things He's given us come from Him. I'm sure He didn't mean for us to clam up and never mention the skills and talents God has given us, especially when He's given us them to benefit others. I asked myself if I believe my books have the potential to give people a lot of joy and enrich their lives. The answer is yes!

So folks, my books are really enjoyable, intriguing and good and if you haven't read them and enjoy a compelling story, please give them a go. Whew, I can tell you, it was difficult for me to type that sentence. All my instincts cried up against stating it outright like that, but if I can do it on this blog, I'll hopefully begin to learn to do it elsewhere too.

And if anybody reading this is another talking chicken, I hope this will help you too. If you have any similar stories, please let me know :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ice Sculpture

Here's a good reflection. Living your life is a bit like melting an ice sculpture that has been frozen to minus 50 degrees C. You start heating it up and for some time, nothing seems to be happening. There is lots of heat energy going into it with no visible results. But suddenly when the temperature gets to zero it begins to melt and you have water.

In the same way, you can put a saucepan of that water over a flame to boil but it appears that nothing is happening until around 100 degrees C. Then you begin to see a few bubbles, a bit of steam, and eventually it rolls up to a good, steady boil.

The principle here is that we can pour a lot of energy into anything (for me it's writing novels and homeschooling my family) and day by day it seems that nothing is happening. I've had moments of discouragement and been tempted to quit, wondering what is the use of plowing on for no results. Perhaps I'm just a victim of living life in the fast-paced 21st century, when we are conditioned to think our gratification should be instant. Yet the fact is that when we pour honest effort and energy into something meaningful, it's bound to bloom into something beautiful that is obvious to everyone as the fruits of our labour, as long as we stay faithful and don't quit!