Bringing Home the Treasures

Ships Returning Home

by Max Ehrmann

We are all ships returning home
laden with life’s experience,
memories of work, good times and sorrows,
each with his special cargo.
And it is our common lot to show
the marks of the voyage,
here a shattered prow, there a patched
rigging, and every hulk
turned black by the unceasing
batter of the restless wave.
May we be thankful for fair weather
and smooth seas, and in times of storm,
have the courage and patience
that mark every good mariner.
And over all, may we have
the cheering hope of joyful meetings,
as our ship at last drops anchor in
the still water of the eternal harbor.

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My response to today’s WordPress prompt: fortune

Note:
In spite of all the tales about its ancient origins, the Desiderada was also written by Max Ehrmann, 1872-1945.

New Territory

Bride and groom, their quarrel
resolved, the mending begun
with softer words, moderate tones,
kisses hugs love promises.
Sensitive issues aired
bring deeper understanding.
The aftermath
a new territory.

— C. Goodnough

I offer this reply to the WordPress daily prompt and trust this little verse will strike a chord with readers. Relationships are a fascinating—and sometimes frustrating—learning ground. As they flourish, they take us a lot farther than we ever thought we’d be able to go. 🙂

If This Were All

by Edgar A Guest

If this were all of life we’ll know,
if this brief space of breath
were all there is to human toil,
if death were really death,
and never should the soul arise
a finer world to see
how foolish would our struggles seem.
How grim the earth would be!

If living were the whole of life,
to end in seventy years,
how pitiful its joys would seem.
How idle all its tears!
There’d be no faith to keep us true,
no hope to keep us strong,
and only fools would cherish dreams —
no smile would last for long.

How purposeless the strife would be
if there were nothing more,
if there were not a plan to serve,
an end to struggle for!
No reason for a mortal’s birth
except to have him die —
how silly all the goals would seem
for which men bravely try.

There must be something after death;
behind the toil of man
there must exist a God divine
Who’s working out a plan.
And this brief journey that we know
as life — must really be
the gateway to a finer world
that someday we shall see.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Word Press daily prompt: Abstract

 

 

 

We’ll Never Surrender —Maybe

The Word Press daily prompt word today is doubt. Curious, I picked up my book of quotes, Words of Wisdom, and found this gem:

“The greatest quality of leadership is the ability to hide your panic from the others.”

business-peopleI hope leaders don’t go around in secret panic, but we know that every undertaking has the possibility of failure. A good leader won’t rattle on about his misgivings and the possibility of impending disaster. He weighs his options, decides on a course, and rallies the troops.

As Winston Churchill once did with his rousing speech:
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

He didn’t say:
We shall try to defend our island as best we can and hold out as long as we can, though it’s going to be a pretty tough go. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender until we have to.

Or do you all think we should rather give in now already? After all, we may not win. The enemy army is pretty strong, you know, and well organized. They may defeat our army, overrun our island and slaughter us all. But still, I think we should do our best to repel them — or would we be better off to wave the white flag and avoid all that bloodshed?

Not very inspiring.

How often in our day-to-day lives don’t we need people with courage and confidence? The following incident came to mind:

The teen son of a friend was doing some quick welding one day and a sliver of metal landed in his eye. My friend drove him to the medical clinic, then held her breath as the doctor took a razor-sharp blade and scraped the surface of the boy’s eyeball to dislodge the sliver.

She trembled, knowing one slip of that blade could cause permanent damage, but seeing the doctor’s confidence and steady hand gave her courage. A moment later the sliver was removed. My friend sighed with relief as she and her son left the office, prescription for antibiotic drops in hand.

Imagine yourself in that situation. How confident would you feel with a nervous doctor dithering away as he examined your child’s eye? Maybe he’d say, “Hmm… I’m not sure if I can get this out. I’ll give it a shot, but one slip of my blade and I’d slice his eyeball. I hope that won’t happen, because then infection might set in and he’d be blind in that eye for the rest of his life. I trust I can hold my hand steady enough, but I get a bit shaky when I’m tense, you see.”

Then he picks up the blade. Would you let him have a go at the child’s eye?

Granted, there’s the old “Look before you leap” advice. Yet prudence — thinking the matter through before acting — is a different species than the debilitating worm of doubt.

Expectations

I learned something new today. An expression that means something amazingly different from my expectation.

I received my Merriam-Webster “Word of the Day” e-mail and today’s word is billet-doux.

I’ve rarely encountered this word, so never pondered long about it. However, I know that doux in French means soft and automatically giving the word billet my English understanding — a room, a bed or cot — I assumed a billet-doux would be something like a soft bed.

Out to lunch, as they say. Actually billet in French means ticket, bill or note. So I was rudely awakened from my soft bed of linguistic befuddlement. A billet-doux is a love letter. One more hill I’ve climbed in the battle to comprehend this polyglot that passes for English.

Now to share another tale of false assumptions, this one involving a soft bed in Oxford, England, that some Yank wanted to take home with him. Talk about Great Expectations!

An American tourist was strolling around the grounds of Oxford College. While visiting this historic site he couldn’t help but admire the landscaping, the flowers, and especially the lush green lawn.

After a bit he noticed one of the gardeners busily tending the shrubs, so he stopped to chat. “Beautiful place here. And what I wouldn’t give to have a lawn like this on my property back home.” He rocked back and forth on the soft sponge. “Nice! What would I need to do for mine to grow like this?”

The gardener eyed the tourist. Ralph Lauren and all that—the man’s probably worth a mint. So he replied, “I’m thinking you’d probably need some of our fertile English soil, sir.”

“No problem. I can arrange to have a few tons shipped over by boat. What else?”

The gardener mentally rolled his eyes. Yep. Awash in a sea of filthy lucre, these Yanks. “The right kind of grass seed, of course. Don’t know if you can get our varieties over there.”

“I’m good with that. Tell me what brand and I’ll order it. Is that all?”

The gardener thought for a moment. “Well, the ground must be absolutely level so it can be rolled easily. You need to sow the seed in autumn, then when spring comes you cut and roll your grass. You have to repeat and repeat the mowing and rolling.”

The American beamed as he looked around, anticipating having beautiful lawn like this someday. “It all sounds doable to me. And for how long do you keep up this mowing and rolling?”

“If you want your lawn to look just like this one, I’m guessing you’ll have to keep at it for several hundred years.”

Word Press daily prompt: expectations

Seriously?

This little story was included in an e-mail one day from a friend in Missouri.  Not sure where he got it, but I’ll pass it on in case you haven’t heard it yet.

It was very early in the morning and we were transporting horses to a show in our horse trailer.  Weather was nasty; rain was falling.  I pulled into a gas station at 5am to fill up.

Another traveler at the next pump inquired,  “Where are you going with those horses?”

“To the horse show,” I answered.

“You horse people must be crazy, going to something like that in this kind of weather,” he commented.

“What brings you out so early on such a nasty day?” I asked him.

“I’m going fishing,” the man replied in all seriousness.

Word Press daily prompt: seriousness

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Personal note:

I’m closing down my blog, Swallow in the Wind, where for several years I posted poetry and anecdotes like the one above.  For the next month, while I’m occupied with my spring sewing, I’m going to be reposting these here.