In this section I have captured thoughts, ideas, and words which have inspired me and still do.
I hope you will find something which inspires you and will wish to share it with others.
A young girl was walking along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up during a storm. As she came to each starfish she would pick it up and throw it back into the ocean. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, 'Why are you wasting your time doing this? Look around the beach! You can't save these starfish. They are destined to die and you can't make a difference!' The girl became sad and felt discouraged, but after a few moments she bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean.Then she looked up at the man and said 'I made a difference to that one'.
'The greatest mistake is to do nothing because you can only do a little'
2. My Faith
As a child, I was brought up to believe in the literal truth of The Bible and the Christian story. Central to this teaching was the portrayal of God as an interventionist god, someone who would intervene directly on the side of right, protect the innocent; someone who would punish evil doers, someone who see that justice is done. As a child I learned to pray for help in times of difficulty. This brought me comfort.
It’s now seems apparent to me that nothing and no-one protects us from harm, from natural disaster, from accident, from disease, from the evil traits of some human beings. If God is fulfilling the role I was taught, he is doing it in a way which is not apparent. I am sad that disillusionment now drives people away from faith, robs them of the strength and comfort that belief can bring.
Although I no longer believe in the existence of God in the form I was taught as a child, I now believe that there is a spiritual presence for good which permeates the universe. I guess this is for me the equivalent of ‘the holy spirit’ in biblical terms.
Of course, I have no idea how such a holy spirit can be, but one thing I believe for certain. If we wait for understanding before we allow ourselves to believe, we block the path to faith. After all, ‘faith’ means ‘belief in the absence of proof or understanding’. It seems to me that our choice is to believe without understanding, or to dismiss the possibility that there is a universal force for good; reject the idea that there is ‘something bigger than all of us’.
In the darkest days of my life and times of turmoil and confusion I have prayed and found the strength I needed. My life is so much richer because of my belief.
I don’t look to The Holy Spirit to protect me and mine. When I pray, I pray for and find, strength and courage to help me handle life. My faith also enables me to see beauty in things and people, enables me to find inner peacefulness, and gives me a feeling of connectedness with all living things, enabling me to feel part of something much bigger than me.
On a few occasions when I have prayed for help in thinking things through, I have found that some brand new and very helpful thought arrives in my mind, sometimes very quickly, sometimes more slowly. Where the new thoughts came from I can’t be sure. Maybe they were there all along in my unconscious mind and prayer unlocked them? I don’t know and I know I will never know, but I don’t need to.
I have repeatedly found that when life has been really difficult, I have experienced comfort and strength in prayer. This is why I still find 'Footsteps' [next] so moving.
Faith means 'belief in the absence of understanding or proof''.
Our choice is to believe or disbelieve!
I have made my choice!
Brian A Martin
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed there were two set of footprints in the sand, one belonged to me and the other to God. When the latest scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that this happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I asked God about it. 'God, you once said that if I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way, but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you most you would leave me'.God replied 'My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints it was when I carried you'.
This story still moves me because it reminds me of the strength I found when I most needed it.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain,
When you awake in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night,
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there – I did not die.
I have often found comfort in writing prayers when life was tough. I wrote this prayer in 1990 at a particularly difficult time in my life.
Nowadays I think of God, not as a deity, but as a power for good which permeates the universe, a holy spirit.
A Prayer for Strength and Courage
I do not understand how you can be; I do not understand what you are,
Any more than I understand how the universe can be, but is.
If the universe were not a fact, they would say that it too is impossible,
But unlike the impossible universe, we cannot prove that you are.
Faith or disbelief, the choice is ours.
Nearly all my life I have enjoyed the blessing that is faith.
At times my faith has flickered, flickered like a candle in the wind,
But the light that lights my life has never gone out.
After all these years I still do not understand how you can be,
But I no longer need to understand, for I know for certain that you are.
I see your presence in so many ways in the world around me.
Amid the selfishness, greed, and cruelty I see countless acts of love,
Of compassion, countless acts of generosity and self- sacrifice.
Let me never again forget your presence as I busy myself with the day.
Let me always remember the support that is mine for the asking.
This dark day I turn to you yet again.
I need to feel your strength once more, for my duty grows painful,
And the choices before me difficult.
Loving God, give me the strength to do my duty
And the wisdom to know what my duty is.
4th November 1990
In loving memory of Tom Cartwright who died far too soon.
He inspired me, and changed my life, by reciting ‘IF’ to me in the office one morning when I was eighteen years old.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And don't look too good, nor talk too wise.
If you can dream, and not make dreams you master;
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat these two imposters just the same,
If you can bear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave you life to, broken
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew
To serve your turn long after they have gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them 'Hold on'.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue.
Or walk with kings – nor lose your common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And, which is more – you'll be a man my son
One Day At A Time
Put aside yesterday, with its mistakes, regrets, and pain,
Leave to-morrow alone, with its uncertainty and fears,
Choose to live in today, in each moment.
You can survive one day at a time,
You can recover one day at a time,
You can build and rebuild one day at a time.
Will you throw away the future reaching back into the past?
Will you let your mind drift on the uncertain seas of the future?
Living is so much harder when we lose each today in reliving past pain,
And in creating nightmares out of future fears,
Pain and fears which blot out sunshine from your life
The bottle of life is no longer full, perhaps it never was,
But seeing that it’s half full rather than half empty,
Can transform the way you feel,
Can transform the way your life is heading.
Every new day is the beginning of the rest of your life,
Will you throw it away reliving yesterday and fearing tomorrow?
By Brian A Martin
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Sing and dance together and be joyous:
But let each one of you be alone….
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
A poem about listening skills
Please Hear What I Am Not Saying
Don't be fooled by the masks I wear.
I give the impression that I'm secure,
That confidence is my name and coolness my game,
That I need no-one.
Don't believe it!
Behind my mask is the real me,
Sometimes afraid, sometimes confused, sometimes lonely.
Deep down I'm afraid that I am just not good enough,
Afraid that you will see this and reject me.
And so I wear a mask.
I tell you things that are really nothing,
And nothing of things that are everything.
Please listen for what I'm not saying,
For when you are sensitive to my needs,
Empathic in your understanding,
My heart grows wings and you help release me from my prison.
It may not be easy for you to help me,
Sometimes when you approach me, my fear may cause me to bite.
Please be patient and dismantle my walls with firm but gentle hands,
For the Child within me is afraid and shy.
Who am I you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am nearly everyone you meet,
And I am also you.
To laugh often and much,
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends,
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or a redeemed social condition,
To know that even one life
Has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘The greatest achievement is not in never falling, but getting up every time we fall’.
- ‘All significant battles are waged within oneself’.
- ‘Don’t throw away tomorrow reaching back for yesterday’.
- ‘Try to look at what you have left, not what you have lost’.
- ‘Ninety percent of what we fear will never happen, and the rest won’t be as bad as we fear’
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- ‘Life has no purpose except the purpose we give it’.
- ‘No life is ever wasted which lightens the burdens of others’.
- ‘The greatest mistake is to do nothing because you can only do a little’.
- ‘Prayer without action is no prayer at all’. Mother Theresa
- ‘Courage is like a muscle, it’s strengthened with repeated use’.
- ‘Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s doing what needs to be done even when it scares you’.
- ‘To fight fear act: to increase fear wait, put off, postpone’.
- ‘All significant battles are waged within oneself’.
- ‘Ninety percent of what you fear will never happen, and the rest won’t be as bad as you fear’.