Praying Hands
Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy. After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works. When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you." All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no." Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late." More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office. One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands." The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


I Dare you
An atheist professor was teaching a college class and he told the class that he was going to prove that there was not a God. He said, "God if you are real, then I dare you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!" Ten minutes went by He kept taunting God, saying, "Here I am God, I'm still waiting" He got down to the last couple of minutes and a BIG 240 pound football player happened to walk by the door and heard what the professor said. The football player walked in the class room and in the last minute, he walked up, hit the professor full force, and sent him flying off the platform. The professor got up, obviously shaken and said, "Wow, where did you come from and why did you do that?" The football player replied, "God was busy, so He sent me!"

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


Today's Stock Market......
Helium is up. Feathers were down. Paper was stationary. Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up sharply. Cows steered into a bull market. Pencils lost a few points. Hiking equipment was trailing. Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline. Weights were up in heavy trading. Light switches were off. Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remained unchanged. Shipping lines stayed at an even keel. The market for raisins dried up. Coca-Cola fizzled. Caterpillar stock inched up a bit. Sun peaked at midday. Balloon prices were inflated. Scott Tissue touched a new bottom. And batteries exploded in an attempt to recharge the market.

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


THE OBSTACLE IN OUR PATH
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's condition.

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


HAPPINESS
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his life would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you." Epilogue...There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. "SOMETIMES TO FACE YOUR FUTURE YOU HAVE TO LET GO OF YOUR PAST."

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


LOVE OF LIFE
It all started when I was 16 years old. While I was playing outside on my farm in California, I met a boy. He was an average kind of boy who teased you and then you chased them and beat them up. After that first meeting in which I beat him up we kept on meeting and beating each other up at the fence. That only lasted for a little while though. We would meet at the fence all the time and we were always together. I would tell him all my secrets. He was very quiet he would just listen to what I had to say. I found him easy to talk to and I could talk to him about everything. In school we had separate friends but when we got home we would always talk about what happened in school. One day I said to him that a guy I liked hurt me and broke my heart. He just comforted me and said everything would be okay. He gave me words of encouragement and helped me get over him. I was happy and thought of him as a real friend. But I knew that there was something else about him that I liked. I thought of it that night and figured it was just a Friend kinda thing that I was feeling. All through high school and even through graduation we're always together and of course I thought of it as being friends. But I knew deep inside that I really felt differently. On graduation night even though we had different dates to the prom I wanted to be with him. That night after everybody went home I went to his house and wanted to tell him that I wanted to see him. Well, that night was my big chance and all I did was just sit there with him watching the stars and talking about what I was going to do and what he was going to do. I looked into his eyes and listened to him talk about what his dream was. How he wanted to get married and settle down. He said how he wanted to be rich and successful. All I could do was to tell him my dream and cuddle next to him. I went home hurting because I didn't tell him how I was feeling. I wanted to tell him so bad that I loved him but I was too scared and frightened. I let my feelings go and told myself that someday I would tell him just how I felt. All through college I wanted to tell him but he always had someone with him. After graduation he got a job in New York; I was happy for him but at the same time I was sad to see him go. I was sad also because I didn't tell him how I felt. But I couldn't let him know now that he was leaving for his big job. So I just kept it to myself and watched him go on the plane. I cried as I hugged him for what I felt was going to be the last time. I went home that night and cried my eyes out. I felt hurt that I didn't tell him what I had inside my heart. Well, I got a job as a secretary and then worked my way to a computer analyst. I was proud of what I had accomplished. One day I got a letter with an invitation to a wedding. It was from him; I was happy and sad at the same time. Now I know that I could never be with him and that we could only be friends. I went to the wedding the next month. It was a big occasion. It was a big church wedding with the reception at a hotel. I met the bride and of course I talked to him too. I fell in love one more time. But I held back so it wouldn't spoil what should be the happiest day in his life. I tried to have fun that night but it was killing me inside watching him being so happy and me trying to be happy covering up my sadness tears inside of me. I left New York feeling that I did the right thing. Before I left on the flight, he came running out of nowhere and said his good-byes and how he was very happy to see me. I came home and just tried to forget about what went on in New York. I had to go on with my life. As the years went on, we wrote to each other on what was going on and how he had missed talking to me. On one occasion he never wrote back to me at all. I was getting worried as to why he hadn't written anything for a long time after I had already written 6 letters to him. Well, just when everything seemed hopeless and sad in my life, I got a note that said: "Meet me at the fence where we used to talk about things". I went and saw him there. I was happy to see him, but he was broken-hearted and sad inside. We hugged until we couldn't breathe anymore. Then he told me about the divorce and why he hadn't written for a long time. He cried until he couldn't cry anymore. Finally, we went back to the house and talked and laughed about what I had been going and to catch up on old times. But in all of this, I couldn't tell him how I felt about him. In the days that followed, he had fun and forgot about all his problem and his divorce. I fell in love again with him. When it came time for him to leave back to New York, I went to see him off and cried. I hated to see him leave. He promised to see me every time he could get a vacation. I couldn't wait for him to come so I could be with him. We would always have fun when we were together. One day he didn't show up like he said he would. I figured that he might have been busy. The days turned into months and I just forgot about it. Then I got a call one day from a lawyer in New York. The lawyer said that he had died in a car accident going to the airpor, and that it took this long till everything was settled. It broke my heart. I was shocked about what took place. Now I knew why he didn't come that day. Again, I was broken-hearted. I cried that night, cried tears of sadness and heartache. I asked questions: "Why did this happen to a kind guy like him?" I gathered my things and went to New York for the reading of his will. Of course, things were given to his family and his ex-wife. I finally got to meet her since the last time we met at the wedding. She explained to me how he was and how he always provided. But he was always unhappy. She would always try everything but she couldn't get him happy, as he was that night at their wedding. When the will was read, the one thing that was given to me was a diary. It was a dairy that of his life. I cried as it was given to me. I didn't know what to think. Why was this given to me? I took it and flew back to California. As I flew on the plane I remembered the good times that we had together. I started reading the diary and what was written. The diary was started with the day we first met. I read on till I started to cry. The diary told of him saying that he had fallen in love with me that day I was broken-hearted. But he was too afraid to tell me what he had felt. That is why he was so quiet and liked to listen to me. It told of how he wanted to tell me so many times, but was too afraid to say anything. It told of when he went to New York and fell in love with another. How the happiest time he had was seeing me and dancing with me at the wedding. He said he imagined it was our wedding. How he was always unhappy till he had no choice but to divorce his wife. How the best time in his life was to read the letters written to him by me. Finally, the diary ended when it said, "today I will tell her I love her". It was the day he was killed. The day I was going to finally find out what was really in his heart. So the moral of the story, If you love someone, don't wait till tomorrow to tell him/her. Maybe the next day will never come at all..

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


Shake It Off And Step Up
A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery. Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow. "Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP! You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. THAT'S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity...THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US! Remember that FORGIVENESS--FAITH--PRAYER-- PRAISE and HOPE...all are excellent ways to "SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP" out of the wells in which we find ourselves!

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


The Butterfly
A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand, was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, that would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Not only that, we could never fly.

Author - Author Unknown  (Source: Source Unknown)


A Special Teacher
Years ago a John Hopkin's professor gave a group of graduate students this assignment: Go to the slums. Take 200 boys, between the ages of 12 and 16, and investigate their background and environment. Then predict their chances for the future. The students, after consulting social statistics, talking to the boys, and compiling much data, concluded that 90 percent of the boys would spend some time in jail. Twenty-five years later another group of graduate students was given the job of testing the prediction. They went back to the same area. Some of the boys - by then men - were still there, a few had died, some had moved away, but they got in touch with 180 of the original 200. They found that only four of the group had ever been sent to jail. Why was it that these men, who had lived in a breeding place of crime, had such a surprisingly good record? The researchers were continually told: "Well, there was a teacher..." They pressed further, and found that in 75 percent of the cases it was the same woman. The researchers went to this teacher, now living in a home for retired teachers. How had she exerted this remarkable influence over that group of children? Could she give them any reason why these boys should have remembered her? "No," she said, "no I really couldn't." And then, thinking back over the years, she said amusingly, more to herself than to her questioners: "I loved those boys...."

Author - Bits & Pieces - June 1995 Economics Press   (Source: Bits & Pieces - June 1995 Economics Press )


The Journey
One day you finally knew What you had to do, and began Though the voices around you Kept shouting Their bad advice - Though the whole house Began to tremble And you felt the old tug At your ankles "Mend my life!" Each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, Though the wind pried With its stiff fingers At the very foundations, Though their melancholy Was terrible. It was already late Enough, and a wild night, And the road full of fallen stones. But little by little, As you left their voices behind, The stars began to burn Through the sheets of clouds, And there was a new voice, Which you slowly recognized as your own, That kept you company As you strode deeper and deeper Into the world, Determined to do The only thing you could do - Determined to save The only life you could save.

Author - By Mary Oliver   (Source: Source Unknown)





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