KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

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LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

2018 is about to finish and now when I look back, I feel nostalgic. If anyone asks me how was 2018 to you, I would say, “It was the best in my life”. Reading this line, many of you might think, I just have got good marks or might have topped university exams or have got a good job with handsome salary. Trust me there’s no such thing. 2018 was best because of many other reasons. All the reasons when combined together, have given me so much. When 2018 started I was having a lot of stress. The reason for stress was some family issues. Though 2018 was not a fairy tale year but it made my year.

I graduated in this year and this really makes me happy. While I was leaving my college, I came to know what I earned so far. I earned love and affection from my teachers, classmates and also from my juniors. While returning back to home I had lots of memories which are going to stay in my heart forever. 2018 taught me the true essence of love. True love motivates us to look forward and work hard for our dreams. It is kind and never brags.

Every day brought some lessons for me. The best lesson that I learnt was “not everyone we meet or have in our lives are intended to stay forever”. The only thing that will stay forever is bittersweet memories. The year is ending day by day and so it is taking away toxic people from my life; for which I am very thankful. The last six month of 2018 proved to be of great teachings. I learnt so much. I saw myself as a grown up, matured enough to make life decisions. I found when we are determined; no one can change our decisions. Once we are determined, we get the courage to walk alone in the city full of crowd. Even though we are alone, we are always surrounded by our determination and willpower.

I hope 2019 will also bring so many lessons for me. It will be a year that will witness my growth as a matured and persevere human. I wish 2019 to award me with success and good health of my near and dear ones.  In 2019, I won’t waste my time in anger, grudges and being disappointed. I would rather invest it in being a happy and cheerful soul. After all, life is all about finding happiness despite the odds. Therefore, welcome your new year with open arms and hopes.

A YEAR GONE BY

A major part of another year gone by! A year with its share of joys and sorrows, pains and gains, wishes fulfilled and some left dry, works accomplished and many left undone, new beginnings and long-dragged closures.

For many, it has been just another year in the annals of time. For some others, it has been special – the birth of a baby, marriage, success in the career, visit a place that one dreamt of, and many such. For yet some others, it has been a year that they wished had never shown them the days it did – sickness, disappointments, the death of a loved one, loss in business, a jolt in the career path, a broken relationship, witnessing a natural calamity, and many such more.

No matter what this year has brought in our lives – whether agony or joy, it sure has left behind its unique imprint.

Each day has challenges galore

And a cluster of 365 days, with still many more.

Some that made us strong to the core

While some that made us crash away from the shore.

As I reflect on this year, I see a mixed canvas of many hues – loss of two precious ones in the family within a short duration, a seemingly impossible marriage of a friend that eventually did happen and the broken relationship of another friend which was supposed to culminate in marriage shortly, to name a few. Emotionally stirring events in their own ways!

We begin a year wishing happiness, fulfilment and prosperity for others. And, we are wished the same as well. That’s how we come to expect each new day to bring good tidings our way. But when something unthought-of happens to shatter our peace, questions spring up in the mind – ‘Why?’.

Well, let’s accept it. Life is not always rosy – no matter who the person may be, no matter how many good works the person may have done, no matter how many blessings and good wishes might have crossed the way. It’s always a mixed bag!

As we enter another year, let’s wish for each other strength to face each new day of the year, courage to face the challenges, an open mind to receive the teachings of life experiences, a vision to move forward and break barriers and the zeal to discover oneself no matter what life throws our way.

Each new day . . . each new year . . . adds on to the multi-cuisine called life. Its an amalgamation of sweet nuts, tangy lemons, bitter herbs, cocktails and mocktails, cool shakes and hot cordials. Let’s resolve to uphold each other to live life to the fullest, knowing that the God of the universe is our Creator who knows each one personally and wants to see the best in all. He crowns each year with His bounty!

RECONCILIATION – THE NEED OF THE HOUR: FEELING THE NEED

Why these wars?
Why this loss of lives?
If men can love men,
And choose to live as close brethren.

Aching minds and crying hearts,
Longing for peace instead of fiery darts,
To love, indeed is an art,
Which every man must master and strive to play a part.

Reconciliation is a fruit of love. Love in the heart yearns to be reconciled with one who is not deemed to be on the same page as before.

Reconciliation refers to the restoration of previously existing friendly relations. It doesn’t simply mean ‘to patch up with someone.’ It involves much more. Though Reconciliation has been dealt with in Candles Online previously, this week is again devoted to the topic, thus recognizing its significant importance – be it in interpersonal relationships or in global ties. Without a doubt, reconciliation would make the world a better place to live in than it already is.

In today’s piece, I will be dealing with Feeling the Need for Reconciliation.

For any behaviour to manifest, there has to be a felt need. Though we do many things out of sheer habit, the human clock – be it biological, social or psychological – operates out of a felt need. Take, for example, hunger. When the hypothalamus perceives the need for food, it sends sensory signals and so you and I experience what is called hunger pangs. This leads us to go near a source of food and consume it to satiate our hunger. Just like hunger, most other physiological processes are born in the mind and are then translated into physical action/behaviour.

Reconciliation is not a physiological process, though the act of being reconciled with someone is reflected in physical and social behaviour. Unless one feels the need for reconciliation, the actual act of reconciliation doesn’t happen.

When we speak of reconciliation, we assume that there has been a point of conflict which was preceded by good relations. Genuine restoration of previous friendly relations is possible when the conflict is followed by forgiveness (which will be extensively dealt with on another day this week). Forgiveness, then gives way to the desire for reconciliation.

So then, what does it take to be reconciled with someone, why ought one feel the need for the same and how to reconcile? I’ll deal with the what and why of reconciliation in today’s piece. In the subsequent six articles of this week, we’ll talk about the how.

The intrusion of conflict into friendly relations results in the friendly ties being cut off, thus giving rise to enmity, anger, jealousy, a desire for revenge, stress and lack of peace as by-products. A continual indwelling of these vicious by-products results in a sick mind and body, thus affecting one’s intrapersonal and interpersonal well-being. Too much a cost to pay for the one life that is gifted to us!

The Bible says –

“If possible as far as it depends on you live peaceably with all.”

 These words of wisdom are not without reason. Count the costs of conflict and the blessings of peace – you’ll realize it!

So then won’t it make one look like a fool to be reconciled with someone who was only yesterday trying to cause harm? Won’t it make one a weakling before others? Is it not more logical to avenge oneself – tooth for tooth and eye for an eye?

We see this happening. Our newspapers and News channels are full of hate stories – whether social or diplomatic. Is it doing anyone any good? Well, the earth is still rotating and revolving. It hasn’t come to a standstill. But, human life feels the impact of unreconciled strained ties. Hatred breeds hatred and Love breeds love.

How then do we deal with the wrong done to us by a friend?

The easy way out is, of course, to shun all ties. But then, reconciliation is just the opposite of it. The answer to the above question is – deal with love. Sounds a bit impractical, doesn’t it? True.

How do you talk sweetly to a friend who has publicly ridiculed you? How do you go back and love your husband who has hurled abuses at you? How do you love your business partner who has syphoned huge amounts and got you thrown into prison? How do you love your wife who has cheated on you and is romantically involved with someone else? And, do you need to be reconciled with such people at all? ‘Not needed’ – many would say. ‘Not humanly possible’ – I say. Not possible unless we invoke the power of the Almighty to renew and strengthen us from within. It is for God Almighty to avenge the evil, injustice and wrongs that plague humans, and He sure does it in His way and in His time. Not for you and I to think of ways to get even and scheme and strategise the means for the same.

Reconciliation follows forgiveness and needs repentance as a necessary precursor. It takes one to forgive (or seek forgiveness) but, two to reconcile. Unless there are realization and repentance from the erring party, any desire for reconciliation doesn’t materialize.

That gives an easy excuse. Of course, you and I cannot go to such extreme extends to make an erring party realise, repent, seek forgiveness and have the desire to be reconciled. This is being over-ambitious for one’s self. And here again is where we need the power of the Almighty as He alone is the one who transforms human hearts and with God nothing is impossible – absolutely nothing!

Reconciliation not only restores friendly ties but also elevates us to a higher platform of functioning. It ensures a continued flow of love, peace and joy in our heart. It aids our soul to reflect the character of God in us. You see, while we broke away from God owing to our sin, He walked towards us to restore the friendly ties. And so, when we strive to reconcile with others, we strive for a greater goal!

Think about the depths of these words as the next six articles would take the topic to further details.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Chiradeep

1. Rajnandini: In the little more than four decades of your life, do you have any regrets? If so, what are they? If not, why?

Ans: Rajnandini, I know you hit the button which literally got me stuck and still at a point where I have to think well about what to and how to answer this question. 

Regrets are many, truly, but sharing them all might be fatal because we rarely know the end result of everything. Being human our decisions and responses are always premature ones so I won’t call them regrets though sometimes I regret about a few things. 

Now to answer your question I can say, I hate the time that I wasted away for unproductive and addictive actions and works undertaken by me to satiate my earthly needs. I have deep regrets for all those times that I had lost and will never get back ever again. However, regretting those actions are not fatal. 

2. Aditi Ranade: What is the toughest lesson life has taught you?

Ans: Tough lessons are many but one that I struggled with the most was allowing too many distractions and interruptions in my most vital relationships. I learnt instead of giving attention to many relationships/friendships it is better to groom the fewer ones. Thanks a lot for this question dost, Aditi.

3. Deepa Kartik: Do you like to be in the spotlight?

Ans: Yo yo Deepa, Bingo. Yeah, I love being in the Spotlight, love attention and being the centre of attraction. But truly speaking, it never drives me or controls me or motivates me to stay tuned or be focussed to what I love to do always – ‘listen & talk to people’.

4. Prerna Aditi: What does ‘a day spent well’ means to you?

Ans: I loved this question. I would say it is a very intelligent and interesting question, Prerna. 

A day spent well for me will be when I get to listen and talk to people those who need it desperately. Knowing and understanding a heart, a mind is my greatest hobby and passion. And I simply love and enjoy doing it. So when I get to do that and feel that someone is benefitted from and in my presence I feel very satisfied.

5. Prabhjot: How long do you think you can survive without your smart
phone and laptop???

Ans: Hahaha! If you can survive, then I can… forever. But if people around me have those extra chunks in their mouths then can I be with an empty mouth?

Now, ‘refraining from my smart things‘, if that’s what you are asking then I would say, I can survive only two days maximum. 

6. Geetmalini: When was the last time you tried something new?

Ans: Decades ago, Geet. I have become extremely dull and boring. Yeah, finding new writers and bringing them to us almost every month, but something new has not happened in my life for a long time. 

It is a very thought-provoking question and it makes me ponder about trying out something fresh. 

7. Saakshi: What three desires would you fulfil if you have infinite wealth at your disposal?

Ans: “Infinite wealth” is a flawed thought. Wealth itself is earthly and thus finite. 

Anyway, let me answer your question…

First, I would have bought the best house in the world for me and my loved ones. 

Secondly, I would have travelled all over the world.

Thirdly, I would have set up the best counselling centre of the world where the people in need would have come, enjoyed the stay, played, prayed together, interacted, got counselled by the best of counsellors and would have gone home healed and comforted. 

8. Kalpana: What do you do for recreation, for relaxing, for calming down yourself, apart from praying that I know well?

Ans: I knew you might ask that, Kalpana. For recreation and relaxing I watch T.V. or surf interesting websites for ideas. And for calming myself down I prefer to Talk to my favourite people, Divert my focus from ME to OTHERS and sleep.

9. Preeta: What’s the best thing you cherished from your childhood?

Ans: A cosy family, adorable siblings and cousins and a host of angelic friends at every stage of my life. 

Yeah, Crowd . . . People are what I cherished and cherishing from my childhood till now, Preeta.

10. Aastha: What is your definition of happiness?

Ans: Why does my sister always ask me difficult questions??? I can only try what I know and feel.

Amid all kinds of pain, suffering, problems and sorrows it is very difficult to say that I am happy or I am capable of defining happiness… As it is not just an English word but a condition of a human.

Yet, I would say I still managed to be happy most of the time despite my ailments, my problems and my sorrows… Because I stay content with what I have, I love and believe in the act of giving than receiving, I don’t compare myself with others and most importantly I depend on and trust in God for everything. 

So answering the question I would define happiness as “a state of being contented without comparing or living with self-pity but leading a generous life, trusting in the God Almighty in every situation“.   

Hope, I have answered all the questions satisfactorily. I would love to hear from all of my examiners and know how much I scored in the exam. 😛

Thanks to all of you who asked me these beautiful questions. I thoroughly enjoyed answering them.

Stay blessed!

Quote of the day

The more you reflect joy on your face, the more impacting you will be. 

PRESERVE YOUR NECTAR

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago. Blessed with a lovely family consisting of his wife and five children (four daughters and a son), Spafford had all that one would desire. It was then that tragedy struck. His two-year old son died of pnemonia. As he was grieving over this loss, the same year (1871), the great Chicago fire swallowed up much of his business. Gathering much courage, Spafford started rebuilding his business. But the economic downturn of 1873 further hit his business. He changed his plans to travel to Europe with his family – sending them first, promising to join them soon. As the ship carrying his wife and children was crossing the Atlantic, it collided with another sea vessel. All four of his daughters died in the mishap. Only his wife was rescued and she sent Spafford the telegram – “Saved alone.” Spafford hurried to meet his grieving wife saying, “The Lord gave and he has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” As his ship came to the place where his daughters had died, he penned a wonderful hymn which has been a source of encouragement for many, over the years. The first few lines read as follows –

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

(The hymn can be heard in the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPvBV4xqVw )

Joseph Scriven was a man born in Ireland in an affluent family and received good education. In course of time, he fell in love with a lady. However, the day before their wedding she fell from her horse, while crossing a bridge in the River Bann and was drowned in the water below. All this, as Scriven stood watching from the other side of the river! In an effort to overcome his deep sorrow, Joseph left Ireland and shifted to Canada as a 25-year old, where he was much loved by the people for his helpful ways. In course of time, he again fell in love. However, tragedy struck again and his lady-love died of pneumonia shortly before they could wed. Scriven devoted the rest of his life to helping the poor and the needy. In order to comfort his ailing mother who lived in Ireland and was broken at her son’s ordeals, he wrote a poem which was later converted into a hymn and has been a source of comfort and strength to many. A few lines of the hymn read thus –

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

(The hymn can be heard in the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SCorW9r_Is )

Friends, may be you have been where Spafford and Scriven have been and that has made you bitter – at yourself, at family, friends, society. Maybe your life events have not been of this type – but harsh, nevertheless. How has your response been?

It is easy to be bitter and remain bitter. If we turn around and observe people around us, we will notice that each one has a heavy burden to make him/her bitter – only the nature may be different (some born without fully grown limbs, some widowed within a day of marriage, some stricken with terminal illness, some battling marital separation, failures, poverty, etc.)

Let’s remember –

  • Each of us has ample scope to be bitter.
  • To remain bitter or overcome is a choice that has to be made.
  • A bitter spirit depletes the body and numbs the soul.
  • Forgiveness is a powerful weapon that defeats bitterness.
  • Accepting the Sovereignty of God plays a crucial role in coming to terms with bitterness.
  • Counting the numerous other blessings enables to shift focus from the bitterness-causing losses.

If you have been struck with life events that threaten to make you bitter, don’t allow these events/circumstances to suck the nectar out of you. Look unto God – the radiant source of Strength, Grace, Mercy, Love, Peace and Joy and with His power be an overcomer!