There is a story of true sharing. It's called - "Corn Seeds". And so it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbours to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all. The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to "grow good corn", we must help our neighbours grow good corn.
I saw proclaimed on a church banner the other day: "Christ is the reason for the season". And with Christmas upon us, it reminded me of the story of "The Piece of Chalk" which I have included below … it is a spine-tingling story.
I will tell you a personal story. The father of one of my closest friends just moved from his home of 50 years ... he got himself into a bit of an anxious state because of having to do a double move. He is nearly 80 years old. His new home (in a retirement village) was meant to be ready to move into ... firstly there was a 2 week delay but then it escalated into a 6 months delay. In the originally stated two weeks he was going to shuffle between a friend's place and his son's place ... but 6 months is far too long to do that, so for the interim he rented a unit. His stress levels mounted, his memory seemed "shot" and he referred to himself as a "basket case". He has never been one to even consider meditation … thinking of it as completely outside his sphere of understanding. However, feeling as low as he did, it was with very little encouragement he agreed to listen to some of my meditation CDs … and guess what? Within two days of listening (2 or 3 times a day) he is amazed at the positive change in himself and is a "convert". He is also reading "Piece of Mind".
Who watched the recent World Cup final between England and Australia? Wasn't it exciting! Even my "anti-football" wife watched it and cheered along with me. It reminded me of the Sydney Olympics. I've included an article that was published in the US (3 years ago), just after Cathy Freeman's magic run, because it stirs every patriotic bone in my body. I think it is a wonderful thing that Australians are bonding closer together in their pride of country. We're a great sporting nation and let's maintain our reputation of also being "good sports".
And one more story - Room 712 - I have included will bring a tear to your eye ... please let it remind you to seize the moment … do it now ! Tomorrow may be too late.
So enjoy the holiday times ahead, Seasons Greetings, plan to have a great 2004 … and be easy on yourself.
Enjoy the stories and please choose to pass them on.
All the Best
The Piece of Chalk
This is a true story that happened just few years ago at the University of Southern California.There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation.
At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, Stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool.If God existed, He could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare.
Most of the students thought that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up. Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enrol. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor.He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith...he hoped.
Finally, the day came. The professor said, " If there is anyone Here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL! If God existed, He would keep this Piece of chalk from breaking when it hits the floor!"
He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground it simply rolled away unbroken!
The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. Three hundred students stayed and listened.
Article by American Journalist during the Sydney Olympics
For 49.11 seconds, you had to be there. Gary D'Amato - Milwaukee Sentinel, 25 September 2000 Sydney, Australia - I know what you saw, but you don't know what I heard.
Television couldn't possibly have captured it, not with all the fancy technology known to man. In 23 years of covering sports, I have never heard, have never felt, anything like it.
As Cathy Freeman rounded the final turn in the 400 meters Monday night, 112,524 spectators at Stadium Australia stood as one and raised a mighty voice to the heavens.
Louder and louder they cheered, until the roar became something you could feel, stealing the air from your lungs and reverberating in your head, frying the circuits that process sound waves.Surely, no single gathering of men and women on earth had ever produced a noise this big.
Carried on the crest of the din, as if riding the tallest wave in a rolling sea, Freeman pulled away from the pack and cemented her place in Australian history.
She became the first athlete of Aboriginal heritage to win an individual gold medal in the Olympic Games. "I was totally overwhelmed, because I could feel the crowd all around me, could feel them pushing me," Freeman would say later. "I felt everybody's emotions, the happiness, the joy, absorbed in every pore of my body."
After she crossed the finish line, Freeman sat down on the track for three long minutes, her face blank, her senses overloaded. The race had lasted just 49.11 seconds. She needed time to process the experience. "I had to sit down," she said, "and try to feel normal again. It was beyond words."
Some undoubtedly will compare this singular event to Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's colour barrier, but that is a misplaced notion. Not all of America was ready to accept blacks in baseball in 1947.
But in 2000, seemingly all of Australia is eager to embrace Freeman not only as an Aborigine champion, but as its champion.
When the runners were introduced before the race, hundreds of stadium volunteers spontaneously left their posts and stormed the tunnels and stairways. Perhaps 98% of them were white, and some undoubtedly were descendents of the British settlers who pushed the Aborigines off their own land in the 1800s.
Now they were standing on their tiptoes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman they have come to adore.
"All I know is that I've made a lot of people happy, from all kinds of backgrounds, who call Australia home," Freeman said.
Ten days earlier, she had lighted the Olympic cauldron, a symbolic olive branch that so perfectly fit the spirit of the Olympic movement. How does a government tell its indigenous people it is sorry for past wrongs? The Olympic flame helped bridge the gap.
"In my simple world, I will wake up in the morning and eat my breakfast and clean my teeth,"Freeman said. "Nothing will change." But on a cool, clammy night in the land Down Under, something did change. It was a night I will not soon forget. The jet engine roaring in my ears as Freeman sailed down the straightaway. The hairs standing on my neck as she surged into the lead.The powerful surge of emotion I felt as she crossed the finish line.
The tears I shed, for reasons I do not understand. And do not need to.
James Bender, in his book, HOW TO TALK WELL (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1994) relates the story of a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.
One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.
"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year" the reporter asked.
"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn."
He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbour's corn also improves.
Room 712 - by Sue Kidd
The hospital was unusually quiet that bleak January evening, quiet and still like the air before a storm. I stood in the nurses' station on the seventh floor and glanced at the clock.
It was 9 P.M. I threw a stethoscope around my neck and headed for room 712, last room on the hall. Room 712 had a new patient. Mr. Williams. A man all alone. A man strangely silent about his family.
As I entered the room, Mr. Williams looked up eagerly, but drooped his eyes when he saw it was only me, his nurse. I pressed the stethoscope over his chest and listened. Strong, slow, even beating. Just what I wanted to hear. There seemed little indication he had suffered a slight heart attack a few hours earlier.
He looked up from his starched white bed. "Nurse, would you - "He hesitated, tears filling his eyes. Once before he had started to ask me a question, but changed his mind. I touched his hand, waiting. He brushed away a tear. "Would you call my daughter? Tell her I've had a heart attack. A slight one. You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have."
His respiration suddenly speeded up. I turned his nasal oxygen up to eight litres a minute. "Of course I'll call her," I said, studying his face. He gripped the sheets and pulled himself forward, his face tense with urgency. "Will you call her right away - as soon as you can?"
He was breathing fast - too fast. "I'll call her the very first thing," I said, patting his shoulder. I flipped off the light. He closed his eyes, such young blue eyes in his 50 - year - old face. Room 712 was dark except for a faint night light under the sink. Oxygen gurgled in the green tubes above his bed. Reluctant to leave, I moved through the shadowy silence to the window. The panes were cold. Below a foggy mist curled through the hospital parking lot.
"Nurse," he called, "could you get me a pencil and paper?" I dug a scrap of yellow paper and a pen from my pocket and set it on the bedside table. I walked back to the nurses' station and sat in a squeaky swivel chair by the phone. Mr. Williams's daughter was listed on his chart as the next of kin. I got her number from information and dialled.
Her soft voice answered. "Janie, this is Sue Kidd, a registered nurse at the hospital. I'm calling about your father. He was admitted tonight with a slight heart attack and " "No!" she screamed into the phone, startling me. "He's not dying is he ?"
"His condition is stable at the moment," I said, trying hard to sound convincing. Silence. I bit my lip. "You must not let him die!" she said. Her voice was so utterly compelling that my hand trembled on the phone. "He is getting the very best care."
"But you don't understand," she pleaded. "My daddy and I haven't spoken. On my 21st birthday, we had a fight over my boyfriend. I ran out of the house. I-I haven't been back. All these months I've wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was, 'I hate you."
Her voice cracked and I heard her heave great agonizing sobs. I sat, listening, tears burning my eyes. A father and a daughter, so lost to each other. Then I was thinking of my own father, many miles away. It has been so long since I had said, "I love you."
As Janie struggled to control her tears, I breathed a prayer. "Please God, let this daughter find forgiveness." "I'm coming. Now! I'll be there in 30 minutes," she said.
Click. She had hung up. I tried to busy myself with a stack of charts on the desk. I couldn't concentrate. Room 712; I knew I had to get back to 712.
I hurried down the hall nearly in a run. I opened the door. Mr. Williams lay unmoving. I reached for his pulse. There was none. "Code 99, Room 712. Code 99. Stat." The alert was shooting through the hospital within seconds after I called the switchboard through the intercom by the bed. Mr. Williams had a cardiac arrest. With lightning speed I levelled the bed and bent over his mouth, breathing air into his lungs (twice). I positioned my hands over his chest and compressed. One, two,
three. I tried to count.
At fifteen I moved back to his mouth and breathed as deeply as I could. Where was help? Again I compressed and breathed, Compressed and breathed. He could not die! "O God," I prayed. "His daughter is coming! Don't let it end this way."
The door burst open. Doctors and nurses poured into the room pushing emergency equipment. A doctor took over the manual compression of the heart. A tube was inserted through his mouth as an airway. Nurses plunged syringes of medicine into the intravenous tubing. I connected the heart monitor. Nothing. Not a beat.
My own heart pounded. "God, don't let it end like this. Not in bitterness and hatred. His daughter is coming. Let her find peace."
"Stand back," cried a doctor. I handed him the paddles for the electrical shock to the heart. He placed them on Mr. Williams's chest. Over and over we tried. But nothing. No response. Mr. Williams was dead. A nurse unplugged the oxygen. The gurgling stopped. One by one they left, grim and silent.
How could this happen? How I stood by his bed, stunned. A cold wind rattled the window, pelting the panes with snow. Outside -everywhere - seemed a bed of blackness, cold and dark. How could I face his daughter?
When I left the room, I saw her against a wall by a water fountain. A doctor who had been inside 712 only moments before stood at her side, talking to her, gripping her elbow. Then he moved on, leaving her slumped against the wall. Such pathetic hurt reflected from her face. Such wounded eyes. She knew.
The doctor had told her that her father was gone. I took her hand and led her into the nurses' lounge. We sat on little green stools, neither saying a word. She stared straight ahead at a pharmaceutical calendar, glass-faced, almost breakable-looking.
"Janie, I'm so, so sorry," I said. It was pitifully inadequate. "I never hated him, you know. I loved him," she said. God, please help her, I thought. Suddenly she whirled toward me. "I want to see him."
My first thought was, Why put yourself through more pain? Seeing him will only make it worse. But I got up and wrapped my arm around her. We walked slowly down the corridor to 712. Outside the door I squeezed her hand, wishing she would change her mind about going inside. She pushed open the door.
We moved to the bed, huddled together, taking small steps in unison. Janie leaned over the bed and buried her face in the sheets. I tried not to look at her at this sad, sad good-bye. I backed against the bedside table. My hand fell upon a scrap of yellow paper. I picked it up. It read:
"My dearest Janie,
I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me.
I love you too,
The note was shaking in my hands as I thrust it toward Janie. She read it once. Then twice. Her tormented face grew radiant. Peace began to glisten in her eyes. She hugged the scrap of paper to her breast.
"Thank You, God," I whispered, looking up at the window. A few crystal stars blinked through the blackness. A snowflake hit the window and melted away, gone forever. Life seemed as fragile as a snowflake on the window. But thank You, God, that relationships, sometimes fragile as snowflakes, can be mended together again – but there is not a moment to spare.
I crept from the room and hurried to the phone. I would call my father. I would say, "I love you."
Copyright Sue Kidd
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