The Sin of Omission

by: Margaret E. Sangster 

It isn’t the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender work forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted Loving couple holdind on the hands and sunset
Out of a brother’s way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find~
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late:
And it isn’t the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

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The Four Chaplains

On January 23, 1943, the USAT Dorchester left New York harbor bound for Greenland carrying 902 officers, servicemen and civilian workers. The Dorchester was escorted by three Coast Guard cutters. On February 2, one of the cutters detected the presence of a submarine but failed to find the submarine’s position. The C.O. of the Dorchester ordered the men to sleep in their clothing, with life jackets close at hand. They were only 150 miles from Greenland and daylight would bring air cover from the American base.Four Chaplains

Down in the old converted cruise ship’s stifling hold, four U.S. Army chaplains circulated among the frightened young men, some lying wide-eyed in their bunks, others nervously playing cards or shooting dice. Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Reformed. Chatting with the troops, the chaplains eased tensions, calmed fears and passed out soda crackers to alleviate seasickness.

Early in the morning of February 3 the chaplains were still up just before 1:00 when the torpedo struck. The missile exploded in the boiler room, destroying the electric supply and releasing suffocating clouds of steam and ammonia gas. The tremendous explosion threw soldiers from bunks and the lights went out as the stricken ship listed to starboard, sinking fast.

Those not trapped below rushed topside. Amid the shriek of escaping steam and frantic blasts of the ship’s whistle, dazed men stumbled about the dark, crowded decks. Some gripped the rails, too struck with horror to head toward the lifeboats.

The four chaplains quickly moved among the bewildered men, calming them, directing them to life rafts, urging them to escape the doomed ship. Many had forgotten their life jackets. The chaplains located a supply in a deck locker and passed them out. When the bin was empty they pulled off their own and made others put them on.

Only two of the 14 lifeboats were successfully used in abandoning ship. Soldiers leaped into the icy sea. They clutched the gunwales of the two overloaded lifeboats, clung to doughnut-like rafts or floated alone. Some men were insulated by the thick fuel oil that coated them and floated in lifejackets for eight hours.

The four chaplains remained on the ship’s slanted aft deck, standing together, arms linked, heads bowed in prayer, as the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves. Their sacrifice would be remembered as one of the most touching stories of the Second World War, and their legacy continues to this day.

The Magical Mustard Seed

There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and asked, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”

Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed.

She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.”Photo-08-A-woman-knocking-the-door-in-Old-Sana'a

They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them.

The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?”

She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hotels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune.

The woman became so involved in helping others cope with their sorrows that she eventually let go of her own. She would later come to understand that it was the quest to find the magical mustard seed that drove away her suffering.

Run With Intent

by Steve Goodier 
Buckminster Fuller once said, “The minute you choose to do what you really want to do it’s a different kind of life.” And it’s not about what you’re getting PAID to do! If you want to live abundantly, decide what you really want and figure out a way to do it. Be clear and live with intent.

You may have heard of Fred Lebow. Fred complained to his doctor that he lacked energy. His doctor advised him to take up running in order to increase his stamina. He fell in love with it! He was 39 years old when he entered his first race — and did horribly. He beat only one other contestant…a 72-year-old man. But he loved it!Fred Lebow

Fred decided what he really wanted to do — and he did it in his spare time. He joined the New York Road Runners Club and organized New York City’s first marathon race. But what Fred truly wanted to do, even more than run, was to bring people together. And that is what he did. He believe that anybody should be able to run — people of all ages, any background, professional or amateur, and of any country. Today, more than 28,000 people of all backgrounds and nationalities compete in the NYC Marathon.

Not everyone in New York was excited about people running through their neighborhoods. Fred was approached by a youth gang that warned him that nobody had better run through their turf. “That’s great,” Fred enthused. “I need someone to protect the runners in your area, and you look like just the fellows to do it.” He gave them each a hat, shirt and jacket and that year, when the marathon went through their neighborhood, these young men proudly guarded the runners along their way.

Fred decided what was truly important to him and he found a way to do it. He lived with intent. That single decision made his life remarkably different.

In 1990, Fred Lebow found he had a brain tumor. In 1992 he ran his final race. He crossed the finish line holding the hand of his friend and Norwegian Olympic medalist, Grete Waitz. A bronze statue was created of Fred in his running clothes, checking his watch. It is now placed at the finish line of every race. Fred died in 1994. But as one sports writer said, “Fate handed him a short race. With his gall, with his love of life, Fred Lebow turned it into a marathon.”

Fred would say that it’s not about how long you live, but how you run the race of life. Do you run it with intent? 

Red Marbles

by W. E. Petersen

One day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and  the ragged boy next to me.

“Hello Barry, how are you today?”

“H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas … sure look good.”

“They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”

“Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”

“Good. Anything I can help you with?”

“No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”

“Would you like to take some home?”

“No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”

“Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”

“All I got’s my prize marble here.”

“Is that right? Let me see it.”

“Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

“I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort  of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”

“Not zackley … but almost.”

“Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”

“Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.  With a smile she said, “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one,  perhaps.”

I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering.

Several years went by, each more rapid that the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts … all very professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size … they came to pay their debt.”Red_Marbles_by_XWAUForceflow

“We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.”

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

True Friendship

Horror gripped the heart of the World War I soldier as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle. Caught in a trench with continuous gunfire whizzing over his head, the soldier asked his lieutenant if he might go out into the “no man’s land” between the trenches to bring his fallen comrade back.Soldier

“You can go,” said the lieutenant, “but I don’t think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your life away.”

The lieutenant’s advice didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyway. Miraculously he managed to reach his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder and bring him back to their company’s trench. As the two of them tumbled in together to the bottom of the trench, the officer checked the wounded soldier, and then looked kindly at his friend.

“I told you it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said. “Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded.”

“It was worth it, though, sir,” said the soldier.

“What do you mean; worth it?” responded the Lieutenant. “Your friend is dead”

“Yes, Sir” the private answered. “But it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive and I had the satisfaction of hearing him say, ‘Jim…. I knew you’d come.’ “

The Cookie Thief

by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop

She was engrossed in her book but happened to seeil_fullxfull.450938250_i8le
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene

She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by
Thinking “If I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye”

With each cookie she took he took one too
And when only one was left she wondered what he’d do
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh
He took the last cookie and broke it in half

He offered her half as he ate the other
She snatched it from him and thought “Oh brother
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude”

She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat
Then sought her book which was almost complete
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes

“If mine are here” she moaned with despair
“Then the others were his and he tried to share”
“Too late to apologize she realized with grief”
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.