A Violin With Three Strings . . .

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A Violin With Three Strings
Jack Riemer

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an awesome sight.

He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They
remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You
could hear it snap – it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.

We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage – to either find another violin or else find another string for this one. But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.

The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.

Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to
know that.

You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said – not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone – “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the definition of life – not just for artists but for all of us.

Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.

Consider this: Make some music today with the strings you have!

Clay Balls . . .

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Clay Balls

Author Unknown

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man so he took the bag out of the cave with him.

As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone.

Excited the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure.

He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he just threw it away.

It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person by God.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.

May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

Consider this: Change how you look at others today.

Equipment . . .

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Equipment

Edgar Albert Guest

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had;
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise,
With this equipment they all began–
So start from the top and say, I CAN.

Look them over, the wise and the great,
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes;
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will;
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have arms and legs and a brain to use;
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place.
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know;
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had;
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say, ‘I CAN.’

Consider this: Use your equipment!

The Given Light . . .

MMWNA LogoThe Given Light

Barbara Hug

Once upon a time a man had heard, that in a foreign place, far away, there was a holy flame burning. So he got up and left his home to find the holy flame and bring some of its light back home to his house. He thought: ‘When I have this light, then I will have happiness and life and all the people I love will have it too.’

He travelled far, far away and finally found the holy flame, with which he lit his light. On his way back he had only one worry: ‘That his light could go out.’

On his way home he met someone who was freezing and didn’t have any fire and who begged him to give him some of his fire. The man with the light hesitated for a moment. Wasn’t his light too precious, too holy to be given away for something ordinary like that? Despite these doubts, he decided to give some of his light to the one who was freezing in the darkness.

The man continued his journey home and when he had almost reached his house a terrible thunderstorm started. He tried to protect his light from the rain and the storm, but at the end his light went out.

To return the long way back to the place where the holy flame was burning was impossible, he wouldn’t have had enough strength to go back this far – but he was strong enough to return to the human being whom he had helped on his way home.

………and with his light he could light his own again.

Consider this: Share your light and keep yours burning.

The Invitation . . .

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The Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Canadian Teacher and Author

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Consider this: Can you be alone with yourself?

Stop Waiting . . .

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Author Unknown
But Greatly Appreciated!

So stop waiting until you finish school,
until you go back to school,
until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds,
until you have kids, until your kids leave the house,
until you start work, until you retire,
until you get married, until you get divorced,
until Friday night, until Sunday morning,
until you get a new car or home,
until your car or home is paid off,
until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter,
until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on,
until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up,
until you die, until you are born again
to decide that there is no better time
than right now to be happy.

Consider this: Stop waiting until . . .

A Good Reminder . . .

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Good morning fellow adventurer!

  • from The Universe

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE… this is the Universe speaking… Today I’ll be recording your EVERY thought and emotion… No matter how “good” or “bad”, no matter how generous or stingy, and no matter how helpful or hurtful they may be.

AND EVERYTHING I record… will be played back FOR YOU, as soon as possible, as some type of physical manifestation in time and space.

Thank you… that is all.

Consider this: How do you want today remembered?

The Triple-Filter Test . . .

MMWNA LogoThe Triple-Filter Test

Author Unknown

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“Well, no,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now, let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

“Umm, no, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about my friend, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left—the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Consider this: Apply the test!

Turn Your Face To The Sun . . .

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Turn Your Face To The Sun, by Maithri Goonetileke

Beloved,

There are days when nothing seems right. When every shell you pick up on the winding shore is broken. When the silken treasure slips through your fingers too quickly. When comforts are empty. And the world is noise.

On those jagged edged days, when the wind is screaming for a reason only she understands. And you find yourself all alone.

Turn your face to the sun.

There is goodness in the world, that even the river of tears cannot erase.

There is love in the world, that the numbed armies of fear can not destroy.

Sometimes that goodness is everywhere apparent. It pours from the heart of every moment. From the light of every smile.

On those soft days, love hides in the eaves to drop like sweet honey on your forehead and sings her lilting lullabies in the arms of the winds.

But on some days, Beloved. On days like today….

We need to look, to see.

So turn your face to the sun.

Even when she is nowhere to be seen.

Go inside yourself. Find a speck, a splinter of beauty to be grateful for.

‘Yes’, the day has worn you. And ‘Yes’ our mistakes have been so many.

But say ‘Thank you’ anyway.

Take account of all that is in your possession.

A mind. A heart. A body.

A life that breathes, even if for just one more day.

Now count the eyes that have smiled
at you on your wild journey,

the hands that have held you tenderly,

the ears that have listened,

the prayers that have been made on your behalf.

And whisper your ‘Thank you’ again.

Count the sky that has watched you grow
with His painted eyes,

The heaving waves that find their echo
in the tides of your breathing,

The little birds that have sung
you their songs,

The stars which have been a lamp
to your path,
and are your
rightful inheritance.

Count unexpected laughter,

Count undeserved grace,

Count Passion and Love making and Dreams yet to be born,

And bow your head and say ‘thank you’,

Now count the lives who still need your light,

The hungry, the sick, the helpless,

Count the children who will die today

and imagine if with the breath of your body
you could help just
one.

Turn your face to the sun,
And know yourself as a child of the light.

You are the Goodness that cannot be extinguished,

The love that burns through the darkest night.

And perhaps,
In turning
You will see what i have seen,
that this day where everything seemed wrong,
was not your curse,

It was your gift,

Your chance…

To find inside yourself a forgotten ‘thank you’,

To smile in the face of the grim suppressors,

To stand in the heart of the glowering darkness
and turn your face to the sun.

Consider this: Today is a good day to turn your face to the Sun!

Be Who You Must Be . . .

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Be Who You Must Be

Diarmaid Cronin

I don’t know where you are on your path
I have never stood in your shoes
I see not with your eyes.
I know not what your purpose is here
In this stage of your evolution
But I feel blessed to know you
As you are not in my life by chance
And you are my teacher
As I hope you learn from me
I pray I show reverence to you
I pray not to judge you
I wish to let you be
Who you are
Who you dream of being
I will just be beside you
And watch you grow
And the day will come for sure
When we will know why
Our paths crossed this way
And until then my friend
Be who you must be.

Consider this: Be who you must be?