A Christmas meditation

If we but had the eyes to see God’s face in every cloud
If we but had the ears to hear His voice above the crowd
If we could feel His gentle touch in every stirring breeze
And find the haven in His arms beneath leafy sheltering trees
We would not need to ponder or ask to understand
For we’d know HE HELD THE ANSWERS IN THE HOLLOW OF HIS HAND.
——- Helen Steiner Rice.
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The sum and substance of Christmas—— celebrating the greatest of God’s gifts : God’s presence as “PERSONAL PRESENT” in God’s Son, Jesus.  Sadly, with the money-making merriment that market forces peddle, the profoundest meaning of Christmas gets eclipsed.  Let’s rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  Every Christmas reminds us that God has not finished with us.  He is still moulding and shaping us like clay, and when He gives the finishing touches, we will be like beautifully crafted pots, ready to hold all the love and beauty that He will pour into us.
Originally Christmas was a happy family feast, when people came home, from far and near, just to be with the family, sharing not just food but also so many memories and experiences.  Today, many people are lonely at Christmas, because they have no one to celebrate the feast with.  For most people, Christmas has become simply a ritual of going to Church in one’s best clothes and a few handshakes at the end of service.
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There are no Christmas carol-singing groups bringing Christmas to our doorsteps.  Many traditions have developed around Christmas —– the mistletoe, the advent candles, the feeling of anticipation, of welcoming a great event —- the birth of Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us.  I must be a part of the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. —– Even on Christmas Day, there are some families who don’t have enough to eat, no clothes to wear, no shoes for their weary feet, while other families have it all —– Christmas cakes, pudding, roast chicken or turkey ——- sometimes most of which is wasted.  In the so-called Christian countries, in the West, there are homeless people shivering in the dark winter, while other splurge on every conceivable luxury around.
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We have to rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  A real Christmas is sharing from the plenty we have with those who don’t.  A celebration is real only when everybody is included and we are able to be compassionate towards those who are lonely, destitute and unhappy.  Surely, we will bring a smile to their lips and they too will sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”  Thus , it will be truly be a VERY HAPPY & BLESSED CHRISTMAS.”
Inputs from Father Francis Gonsalves an Janina Gomes
 
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Happiness quotient

Happiness is an eternal, innate quality of the soul.  When we are focussed on the externals —— our body, roles, relations, responsibilities and possessions, we lose our connection with the inner resource.
When our focus is external, we tend to blame other people and situations for our unhappiness.  We forget that to be happy or not, IS OUR CHOICE.  People or situations can’t alter the state of your mind, UNLESS YOU ALLOW THEM TO.  Come what may, nobody and nothing can make you unhappy, if you are determined to stay happy.  If things don’t go your way, how can getting angry or disappointed help you ?  It only takes away your happiness and reduces your ability to deal with the situation.
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If you have a loving relationship with God, and trust that He is there to help you, you can entrust Him with all your worries and see how He makes things work out well.  Let your intellect be guided by God’s wisdom, and that will enable you to stay happy and carefree, like a child who has an adult to take care of all his worries.  When we have faith in the intrinsic goodness of every human soul, we accept all kinds of situations and appreciate all kinds of people.  It saves us from being judgmental.
Many people go to great lengths in their quest for happiness.  They believe health and wealth are the keys to happiness.  In fact, it is the other way round —— if you are happy, you will be healthy —- “SMILE and you will GAIN FRIENDS ; FROWN and you will GET WRINKLES.”
When we are happy, the body’s nervous and endocrine systems work optimally, ensuring secretion of healthy hormones and smooth running of bio-chemical processes.  A happy system of mind will, also, attract good fortune.  You will be content, no matter what your circumstances, and contentment is a magnet for new opportunities.  The biggest secret to happiness is to have good feelings for, both, friends and foes.  Thus, we will be in a state of constant happiness.  In order to increase your HAPPINESS QUOTIENT ————- SHARE IT WITH OTHERS.
—— Brahma Kumari Brijmohan.     

Communication

COMMUNICATION comes from the Latin “communicare”, meaning “to share”.  It is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of ideas, feelings, intentions, attitudes, expectations, perceptions or commands, as by speech, non-verbal gestures or writing. It is the meaningful exchange of information between 2 or more participants. —Communications require a SENDER, a MESSAGE, a MEDIUM and a RECIPIENT.  Communication can occur across vast distances in time and space.  The communication process is complete once the receiver understands the sender’s message.  FEEDBACK is a critical component of effective communication.
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COMMUNICATION QUOTES : —-
(1) First learn the meaning of what you say and then speak.—- Epictetus.
(2) To communicate through silence, is a link between the thoughts of man. —- Marcel Marceau.
(3) Good words are worth much and cost little. —- George Herbert.
(4) Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. —-F. Scott Fitzgerald.
(5) Speak clearly, if you speak at all; Cave every word before you let it fall. —- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
(6) Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing. —-William S. Burroughs.
(7) Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. —- William Wordsworth.
(8) Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know. —- Jim Rohn.
(9) Every day I try to be in communication with the Universe in an unconscious way. —- Paulo Coelho.
(10) Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords. —- R. L. Stevenson.
(11) Words are but the signs of ideas. —- Samuel Johnson.
(12) Whatever words we utter, should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. —Buddha.

Sharing and spreading joy

Once a teacher and his young assistant arrived at a village where the people were angry and quarrelsome.

At their request, he gave them his blessings, and asked them to remain together in the village forever.

In the next village they met joyful people who were cooperating with one another and caring for each other.  the teacher blessed them too, but asked them to leave the village, and spread out across the country.  The puzzled assistant asked the teacher why he had given such different advice.  The teacher said, “Those angry, argumentative people will only spread their unhappiness wherever they go.  So I asked them to stay where they were.  But it is better for the caring people to spread out, taking their happiness with them..  Then others will also learn to be joyful”.

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Here is another story :—–One day a man from a nearby village called at the monastery gates, and handed the old monk, who opened it, a magnificent bunch of grapes saying, ” Dear Father, I have brought as a gift the finest grapes my vineyard has produced”.  The monk smiled, “Thank you, I will take them to the Abbot immediately, he will be delighted with this offering”.  But the villager said, “No, no, I brought them for you”.  The man insisted, “Whenever I come by, you open the gates and welcome me.  When I needed help because the crop was destroyed, you shared your meal with me every day”.  But the monk decided to give the bunch of grapes to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.  The Abbot was very pleased.  He though of one of the brothers who was very ill.  “I’ll give him these grapes, they may bring some joy to his life”.  But the grapes did not stay in the sick monk’s room for long.  He thought, ” I will give these grapes to Brother Cook, who has been feeding me such nourishing meals to help me recover”.  He gave the grapes to Brother Cook saying, ” They are for you.  You work so hard, take a moment to sit and enjoy them”.  Brother Cook was amazed at the sight of the grapes, then he thought of the newest entrant to the monastery, who might be feeling a little lonely without his family.  When the novice received them, his heart was filled with the glory of God.  just then he recalled the first time he came to the monastery and of the simple old monk who had opened the gates and warmly welcomed him  That gesture allowed him to feel at home in this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.  And so, he walked to the monk at the gates.  He said, “Eat and enjoy them, for you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy”.  Thus the beautiful and luscious bunch of grapes came back to the person who thought of sharing them with others.  Happiness, always has a way of coming full circle.

  Marguerite Theophil.