One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless.
Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.” Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing?
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent many years in the prison camps of Siberia. Along with other prisoners, he worked in the fields day after day, in rain and sun, during summer and winter. His life appeared to be nothing more than backbreaking labor and slow starvation. The intense suffering reduced him to a state of despair.
On one particular day, the hopelessness of his situation became too much for him. He saw no reason to continue his struggle, no reason to keep on living. His life made no difference in the world. So he gave up.
Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.
As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.
Solzhenitsyn slowly rose to his feet, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Outwardly, nothing had changed. Inside, he had received hope.
From Luke Veronis, The Sign of the Cross; Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997.
A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it.
He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair.
Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.
Quoted from net153.com email list
Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl.
One was an optimistic soul.
But the other took the gloomy view.
“We’ll drown,” he lamented without much ado,
and with a last despairing cry,
he flung up his legs and said “Goodbye.”
Quote the other frog with a steadfast grin,
“I can’t get out but I won’t give in,
I’ll just swim around till my strength is spent,
then I’ll die the more content.”
Bravely he swam to work his scheme,
and his struggles began to churn the cream.
The more he swam, his legs a flutter,
the more the cream turned into butter.
On top of the butter at last he stopped,
and out of the bowl he gaily hopped.
Or another version:
Two frogs fell in a can of cream
Or so I heard it told
The sides of the can were shiny and steep
The cream was deep and cold.
O what’s the use, croaked frog number one
Too straight; no help’s around
Goodbye my friends, goodbye fair world!
And weeping still, he drowned.
But number two, of sterner stuff,
Dog-paddled in surprise.
And while he wiped his creamy face,
And dried his creamy eyes,
I swimm a while, at least, he said
Or so, I’ve heard, he said
It really won’t help the world
If one more frog were dead
An hour or two he kicked and swam
Not once he stopped to mutter.
But he kicked and kicked and swam
and kicked and hopped out via butter
Steven Bradbury, age 28, of Australia hasn’t always been known for his prowess on ice. In fact, you might say he is an accident waiting for a televised event to happen.
In 1994, Bradbury cut his leg in a World Cup skating competition and almost bled to death, losing four liters of blood and receiving 111 stitches. Just a year and a half ago, he crashed headfirst into the boards while training and broke his neck. He chose to defy doctors, who told him that if he skated again he risked permanent paralysis. He staged a comeback in time for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Steven Bradbury was, in many commentators’ opinions, the least likely skater to win a medal–any medal–at the games. And yet he won gold.
Bradbury’s victory is remarkable not only because he had encountered so many setbacks and defeats, but because he won it after the other four skaters in the event fell down just before the finish.
You could almost see Bradbury thinking, “I’m still standing up. I’m crossing the finish line. I just won the race!”
He skated from last to first in a split second.
Adapted from Reuters.com (2-17-02) and the “Sydney Morning Herald;” submitted by Clark Cothern, Tecumseh, Michigan