Jennifer’s Blog

 

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

 

Leonardo da Vinci

main-seperator

Autumn’s Colours….

Autumn’s Colours….

“Merry Autumn” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell 
    About the breezes sighing, 
And moans astir o’er field and dell, 
    Because the year is dying.

 

Such principles are most absurd,— 
    I care not who first taught ’em; 
There’s nothing known to beast or bird 
    To make a solemn autumn.

 

In solemn times, when grief holds sway 
    With countenance distressing, 
You’ll note the more of black and gray 
    Will then be used in dressing.

 

Now purple tints are all around; 
    The sky is blue and mellow; 
And e’en the grasses turn the ground 
    From modest green to yellow.

 

The seed burs all with laughter crack 
    On featherweed and jimson; 
And leaves that should be dressed in black 
    Are all decked out in crimson.

 

A butterfly goes winging by; 
    A singing bird comes after; 
And Nature, all from earth to sky, 
    Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

 

The ripples wimple on the rills, 
    Like sparkling little lasses; 
The sunlight runs along the hills, 
    And laughs among the grasses.

 

The earth is just so full of fun 
    It really can’t contain it; 
And streams of mirth so freely run 
    The heavens seem to rain it.

 

Don’t talk to me of solemn days 
    In autumn’s time of splendor, 
Because the sun shows fewer rays, 
    And these grow slant and slender.

 

Why, it’s the climax of the year,— 
    The highest time of living!— 
Till naturally its bursting cheer 
    Just melts into thanksgiving.

 

 

It is election time!

It is election time in Austria!

 

Austria goes to the polls on the 15th of October, 2017 and Austrians will have their say in the National elections. I will be one among them. It has been my privilege to cast my vote for different leadership positions in this beautiful country that I call ‘home’ and I have handled it as earnestly as I possibly could.

 

But it does feel a whole load different this time. Since my last ballot box experience, the world has changed dramatically! It has been a tough time trying to keep up with events and comprehend what’s going on. I have been torn apart trying to find a balance between being a part of this world and yearning deep solitude and isolation.

 

A handful of historical elections have also taken place all over the world and it has made me rather cautious! Thank God for Saint Paul who tells me in one of his epistles, that I am a citizen of heaven! Honestly, I have not appreciated this truth as much as I now do! I am deeply relieved and thankful! However, here I am at the moment, and I must stay involved.  Every election that has taken place from India to the United States, UK, France  and recently in Germany have been of  immense significance signalling a change of guard  in our world.  A change of guard that does not seem promising or uplifting or morally right in some cases. I have voiced my opinion at times and have observed, absorbed and tried to use the learning to prepare myself for this day when I will have to vote and not just voice an opinion.

 

So what am I going to do? I am going to the only Supreme Entity I know of, Who I can truly trust and I am going to examine the decision I have already made mentally, in the light of His Word.  Saint Timothy says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

— 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

A few weeks ago a dear young friend sent me a verse from the book of Proverbs. She sent it to encourage me through a situation that I found myself in at that time. Here it is:

 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the hearts.

 — Proverbs 21:1-2

 

I have been preparing myself for a long time to be able to take a good decision to vote for a leader and his agenda that seems most acceptable to me as a follower of Jesus Christ. It has not been easy. But I feel good knowing that the Lord will weigh the heart, that He will swing the results of the Austrian elections in the direction He wants!

 

I am not going to fret and sweat. The decision is made. I stay open for any new revelation from God in the next hours before I vote, but unless I sense a need to change my mind I am going to vote for the candidate I have chosen. There are a few more days to go before I get to the voting booth; I am going to use it to talk to my Lord and ask Him to take the heart of my candidate in His hands and then I know that like the rivers of water, He will turn it wherever He wishes!

 

I am a citizen of heaven indeed, but for now I am glad to call Austria my home and I am so thankful to be able to play a tiny part in the history of this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye-Bye Summer

The Sun was shining on the Sea

“The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright
— And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

 

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done
— “It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

 

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead
— There were no birds to fly.

 

In a Wonderland they lie
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summer die.”

 

— LEWIS CARROLL, Alice in Wonderland

 

My refuge and fortress

Jesus Christ is my refuge and my fortress…

 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;

 

His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,

 but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

 

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him,

for he acknowledges My name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
 I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

 

— Psalm 91

Perception

On Perception

 

I watched a merry, sweet Sea Otter in a pool in Lisbon, giving himself the rub of his life! Sometimes gently and sometimes a real hard rub here and there. Sometimes in smooth circles around his face and at other times with rigour behind his ears and around his belly.

 

It was fascinating to watch him and I felt frozen in the moment. A board nearby informed me that the Sea Otter spends most of his time rubbing himself, as he does not have any fat reserve under his very furry coat. He rubs himself to generate enough warmth to beat the cold and to stay warm.  And I am sure he enjoys the rub too!

 

I couldn’t get over that sight. I had to talk to Christ about it. I wondered if He saw meaning in what that Sea Otter was doing all day?! God had surely not forgotten to give the Sea Otter a layer of fat! I sensed that God had designed and created this lovely creature for a couple of things only, namely, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing. foraging, eating and then rubbing, rubbing, rubbing himself allover again!

 

I believe that it gives God immense joy to watch his Sea Otter rub and forage and eat and rub, rub, rub himself all day long and it gave me such joy watching him as well. What a  Sea Otter of a life he has! 

 

There is meaning in being and doing what God has created you for. The Bible says that above all else we have been created to know Him and to love Him with our whole heart, mind, body and soul.  And if I were to spend the rest of my time here on earth learning and doing just that, it would do. He will approve. It will give Him immense joy. I will be fine. I will meet Him one day.

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

— WILLIAM BLAKE, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Sun

Summer Sun  by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Great is the sun, and wide he goes 
Through empty heaven with repose; 
And in the blue and glowing days 
More thick than rain he showers his rays. 

 

Though closer still the blinds we pull 
To keep the shady parlour cool, 
Yet he will find a chink or two 
To slip his golden fingers through. 

 

The dusty attic spider-clad 
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad; 
And through the broken edge of tiles 
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles. 

 

Meantime his golden face around 
He bares to all the garden ground, 
And sheds a warm and glittering look 
Among the ivy’s inmost nook. 

 

Above the hills, along the blue, 
Round the bright air with footing true, 
To please the child, to paint the rose, 
The gardener of the World, he goes. 

 

 

 

 

Magical

God’s creation  is visible and invisible….it is magical!

 

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”

— Enid Blyton, The Folk Of The Faraway Tree

 

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

A Rose is a lovely thing

THE ROSE

 

“What a lovely thing a rose is!” He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.

 

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

 

— Arthur Conan Doyle, The Naval Treaty

 

Our Father

Our Father

 

Jesus said…

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.

 

And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  Pray then like this:

 

Our Father Who art in heaven,

Hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

And forgive us our debts,

As we also have forgiven our debtors;

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

 

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

 

Mathew 6:5-15 RSV

In my time

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

 

— J.R.R.Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

A week to remember, a time to choose

A week to remember, a time to choose

 

This Palm Sunday I stood outside the open golden eastern doors of the Baptistery in Florence. I heard beautiful, soulful music pour out of those doors and I watched people holding twigs of olive branches; they stood in silence surrounded by thousands of tourists who seemed to somehow feel and appreciate the mood as well. A form of brotherly solidarity hung in the air among people of all cultures and nationalities. I have no clue what brought that about, or what each one of those gathered there were thinking, perhaps introspecting. I found myself remembering the holy week events that began with Palm Sunday and all that it meant for me as a child.

 

It would be a quiet week spent at home for us as children. We would be mostly studying as exams would rush upon us just after the Easter break and the mood at home was mostly silent and peaceful.  I would find my mother very quiet and introspective and I would try hard to imitate her attitude. She was in earnest about her faith; I wanted to feel the same way too.

 

Everything came to a halt on Good Friday. I miss the ritual of lying on my mother’s lap and listening to her recount yet once again, the story of Christ. I believed because she believed. But it wasn’t enough to inherit her belief. I walked the path that led me to God and through my weaknesses and failures I found the love and power of Christ most compelling. I made my choice and committed my life to Jesus. He is my Lord and my God.

 

Much has been said and written about Jesus Christ but as C.S. Lewis says, you must make a choice.

 

“You must make your choice: either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S.LEWIS

 

Wishing you a peaceful, quiet and introspective week!

 

 

 

 

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth

 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

 

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

 

He will not allow my foot to be moved;

He Who keeps me will not slumber.

 

Behold, He Who keeps Israel

Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 

The Lord is my keeper;

The Lord is my shade at my right hand.

 

The sun shall not strike me by day,

Nor the moon by night.

 

The Lord shall preserve me from all evil;

He shall preserve my soul.

 

The Lord shall preserve my going out and my coming in

From this time forth, and even forevermore.

 

    –Based on Psalm 121

The Flower by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Flower

 

Once in a golden hour

I cast to earth a seed.

Up there came a flower,

The people said, a weed.

 

To and fro they went

Thro’ my garden bower,

And muttering discontent

Cursed me and my flower.

 

Then it grew so tall

It wore a crown of light,

But thieves from o’er the wall

Stole the seed by night.

 

Sow’d it far and wide

By every town and tower,

Till all the people cried,

‘Splendid is the flower! ‘

 

Read my little fable:

He that runs may read.

Most can raise the flowers now,

For all have got the seed.

 

And some are pretty enough,

And some are poor indeed;

And now again the people

Call it but a weed.

 

–ALFRED LORD TENNYSON

Ash Wednesday

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth

Remember Him before the silver cord is severed

 

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come 

and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—

 

before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;

 

when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop,

when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim;

 

when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades;

when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint;

 

when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets;

when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred.

Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.

 

Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken;

before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well,

 

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

–ECCLESIASCTES 12: 1-7

 

I grew up in a catholic environment and one of the rituals that never failed to move me was what I witnessed on Ash Wednesday; when the priest smearing grey ash on your forehead solemnly reminded you never to forget, that you were made of dust and it is to dust that you would return.

 

Today, as a follower of Christ who adheres to no denomination, I still find this act most meaningful. It is good to be reminded how precious life is, how precious relationships are. It is good to be reminded that my body will turn to dust one day, but my spirit shall return to God Almighty.

 

But the story doesn’t end here. The bible tells us that it is a never-ending love story for those who believe. For there is a resurrection!

 

In 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44, Paul says:

“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

 

I wish you all a meditative and peaceful Ash Wednesday.

 

To the same flower

To the same flower by William Wordsworth

 

I spotted the first daisy in our garden yesterday! Spring is in the air, at last!

 And what would spring me without this little flower. So here then is an extract from William Wordsworth’s, ‘ To the same flower’

 

With little here to do or see

Of things that in the great world be,

Daisy! again I talk to thee,

For thou art worthy,

Thou unassuming Common-place

Of Nature, with that homely face,

And yet with something of a grace,

Which Love makes for thee!

 

I see thee glittering from afar–

And then thou art a pretty star;

Not quite so fair as many are

In heaven above thee!

Yet like a star, with glittering crest,

Self-poised in air thou seem’st to rest;–

May peace come never to his nest,

Who shall reprove thee!

 

Bright ‘Flower’! for by that name at last,

When all my reveries are past,

I call thee, and to that cleave fast,

Sweet silent creature!

That breath’st with me in sun and air,

Do thou, as thou art wont, repair

My heart with gladness, and a share

Of thy meek nature!

 

 

 

 

What does love look like?

What does love look like?

 

It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

— Saint Augustine

 

The commercial side of Valentine’s day seems to have overcrowded the real essence of this celebration, so I decided to refresh my memory on what it’s all about!

 

Here is an extract from http://www.history.com

 

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

 

Talking of saints, I found a beautiful quote from St. Augustine (354-348) which is right at the top, I am going to reflect on it today and I hope it speaks to your heart too….what indeed does love look like? 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Don’t believe everything

 

“Don’t be in such a hurry to believe- I’ll tell you why. If you set to work to believe everything, you will tire out the believing-muscles of your mind, and then you’ll be so weak you won’t be able to believe the simplest true things. 

 

– EDWARD WAKELING (LEWIS CARROLL: The Man and his Circle)

 

 

Roger Federer wins his 18th Grand Slam and what a Slam it is!

Roger Federer wins his 18th Grand Slam 

…And what a Slam it is!

 

Roger Federer won his 18th Grand Slam at the AO on the 29th of January, 2017.

 

My love for Tennis evolved as I began following John McEnroe’s games on my television screen. I was in school then and I didn’t miss a thing he did or said and I certainly didn’t miss any of his matches that were telecast live. John McEnroe faded out and so did my love for the game. Great players like Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras followed, but I was at university and other passions and pursuits kept me occupied, until one day when a young guy named Roger Federer flashed on my television screen playing a game of tennis of the kind that I had never witnessed before, and he had an infectious smile that left a lasting impression.

 

I began watching, talking and reading about Tennis all over again.  I have been following Roger Federer’s career for the last 17 years or so. Like millions of fans that Roger Federer has gained for himself over the years, I too have enjoyed the privilege of watching him grow and evolve as a player. And I have been waiting patiently since 2012 for this moment like the rest of them. For we knew that there was more to his story and it was still being written. We held on.

 

Roger Federer has won his 18th Grand Slam in style, silencing all his critics and igniting hope and joy in the lives of millions who have come to cherish the life of this wonderful ‘Tennis Magician’.

 

And I for one take this Roger Federer victory personally.

 

On the 29th of January 2017, Decency won. Humility, Grace, Elegance, Kindness, and Patience won; Hard Work and Resilience won and it all came together in a 3-hour plus blockbuster drama enacted on the Rod Laver Arena. And it could not have had a better ending. A jubilant Roger Federer swinging his arms up in the air, his eyes full of wonder, smiling radiantly, looking at his team that had made it all possible.

 

Rafael Nadal says Roger Federer is a Legend and Federer would have been more than happy to share his trophy with Rafael Nadal!

 

We celebrated Federer’s 18th Grand Slam at home with champagne and chocolates. We celebrated the victory of our morals and our belief having won through Roger’s victory. 

 

Thank you Roger Federer for winning this Grand Slam! It has been the grandest of Slams as the newspaper headlines say today and it could not have come at a better time in history!

http://www.ausopen.com/en_AU/video/index.html?video=5302262261001

 

 

 

Lord, make me a Student by Bethany Moore

Lord, make me a Student

 

Not of higher learning but of your higher ways,

not to expand my mind but so my heart will change.

 

Give me the courage to withhold

nothing from You worthy of a lesson.

 

Your word as my text,

each circumstance Your pen,

my heart as Your page…

 

Take my needs and teach me Dependency.

Take my failures and teach me Grace.

Take my pain and teach me Compassion.

Take my fears and teach me Faith.

Take my waits and teach me Patience.

Take my storms and teach me Trust.

Take my tongue and teach me Reverence.

Take my deserts and teach me Thirst.

 

Lord, make me a student,

never let me cease growing.

For as long as I can see my reflection in the mirror

I am not yet complete.

 

Lord, make me a student

and take me not home,

until You look in my face

and see the reflection of Your own.

 

— Beth Moore

It sifts from leaden sieves by Emily Dickinson

It sifts from leaden sieves,

It powders all the wood,

It fills with alabaster wool

The wrinkles of the road.

 

It makes an even face

Of mountain and of plain,

Unbroken forehead from the east

Unto the east again.

 

It reaches to the fence,

It wraps it, rail by rail,

Till it is lost in fleeces;

It flings a crystal veil

 

On stump and stack and stem, 

The summer’s empty room,

Acres of seams where harvests were,

Recordless, but for them.

 

It ruffles wrists of posts,

As ankles of a queen, 

Then stills its artisans like ghosts,

Denying they have been.

 

–EMILY DICKINSON

 

Dedicated to my niece Rebecca!