A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy

Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya)

Photo Credit: Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) via CC Flickr

There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.

A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…

“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the  US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.

There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp

My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.

~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017

Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.

There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”

So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..

A Sandpiper to Give You Joy

by Mary Serman Hilbert

Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

“I’m building,” she said.

“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”

That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.

“It’s what?”

“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,

“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.

“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”

“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”

She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.

Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

“I don’t know. You say.”

“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.

“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”

She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.

“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

“Why?” She asked.

I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”

“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt?”

“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.

“When she died?”

“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”

“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”

“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”

“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.

Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY

Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.

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The Love Chapter: Holiday Edition

Jakob Lawitzki

Photo Credit: Jakob Lawitzki via CC Flickr

One of the best, well-known chapters of the Bible worldwide, is 1 Corinthians 13…otherwise known as “The Love Chapter.” It has been used down through the ages in weddings, vows, ceremonies, and various other events.

Recently, I came across a “Christmas Version” of this popular passage of Scripture from a friend of mine that I thought would be fun to share with you. I hope that you will enjoy it and inspire you to remember the real reason for the season (and hopefully, every day of your life).

1 Corinthians 13 (A Christmas Version)

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I am just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I am just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing I the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on those that I love the most, I have missed the point.

…In other words,

Love stops the cooking to hug a child

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, and golf clubs will rust.

But the gift of love will endure.

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In case you would like to know what 1 Corinthians 13 says in Scriptures, here it is (the small numbers are the verses in the chapter) …

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.

Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott

Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

The Courage to Change Your Life Forever

Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relationships are things that can come in all kinds of degrees, shapes and sizes. It was once said that relationships are like birds, if you hold them tightly they die. If you hold them loosely, they fly away. But if you hold with care, they remain with you forever.  Some relationships can be beautiful, loving, and delightful for people who really enjoy each other and being together.

Unfortunately, there are also other kinds of relationships that can be abusive, hateful, and unbearable. In many instances, people feel trapped…wanting to get out of them but either unwilling to “take the step” or afraid…of either not knowing what to do next or of more physical and/or emotional abuse.

A few days ago, I came across the following story on kindnessblog.com that I decided that I would share on my blog, that will hopefully motivate and encourage someone who might be experiencing an unhealthy relationship right now. It is a beautiful story of courage and hope.

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A man came across a folded piece of paper while he was at San Francisco airport that said ‘read me‘ on the front.  How could anyone possibly resist that invitation?  He knew he just had to look.  So, he did.

And what he discovered inside was surprising and wonderful…

“I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship After months of insults I wont repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he packed his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream.

For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers. I could not help feeling utterly alone.

But it was this sense of lonesomeness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore.

I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol, more importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be.

And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past. I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over tow years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace.

Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.

Namaste,
Jamie”

Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is most certainly possible.

Jamie’s letter shows that with courage and a measure of self-love, you can change your own life for the better, and find happiness in a way you might not have thought possible.

The Things Money Can’t Buy

Keith Cooper

Photo Credit: Keith Cooper via CC Flickr

There is no question that everyone wants to have money and wealth. It is comforting to know that when you have an adequate amount of money, you can enjoy some of the good things in life: good food, good friends, and good times. But there is also a downside of having a lot of money: greed, theft, bad intentions, and, more importantly, a loss of the things that are REALLY valuable in a person’s life.

Today’s short story is a terrific illustration of the effects that money and wealth can have on everyone around you. It is not a bad thing to have a lot of money and/or wealth, but what you do with it.

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Caha had a big family with 3 daughters, 2 sons, and a beautiful wife. He not only lived with his family but also had his father and mother living with them as well. He was a very hard worker and spent countless hours every day at his job to be able to feed his family. Being the sole bread winner of the family the took pride in all that he did and how much he gave his loved ones.

Caha worked for more than 16 hours a day. His kids didn’t see him much.  He would leave his home early every morning before the kids woke-up and come home during the late hours of the night when kids were fast asleep. Every day, his entire family eagerly await to spend quality time with him…the kids miss him so much.

Sundays were always the favorite day for Caha’s family because it was on those days that he would spend all of his time with them. Unfortunately, to meet the increasing household expenses and educational expenses, Caha decided to accept a weekend job and work even on Sundays. Needless to say, his kids, wife and parents were very disappointed.

Caha’s continues this work schedule for a few weeks which soon became a year. After a year, his company was very impressed at all the hard work that he had put into the business and was offered a promotion that had an attractive pay raise and benefits. He gladly accepted it.

Soon, Caha’s family moved to a new house, wore better clothes and ate the best food that money could buy. However, as usual, Caha continued his busy workload and earned more and more money.

One day his wife asked him ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

Caha replied, ‘I want you and our family to have the best things in the world and always be happy.”

Two more years passed and Caha hardly spent time with his family. The children yearned to have their father at home. Meanwhile, the sincere efforts and hard work of Caha earned him a fortune. He was offered partnership and shared in the profits of the company. As time continued to march on, Caha continued to earn more and more wealth.

Caha’s family eventually became one of the richest families in the city. They now had a beautiful beach house, fabulous cars, and a plethora of other valuable goods. They had everything that they could ever dream of but there was still a huge vacuum…his children longed and craved for their father to be home with them.

His children eventually grew into their teens and they were no longer kids. By this time, Caha had earned enough wealth to provide a luxurious life for his family for the next five generations.

One day, Caha’s family went to their beach house to spend their vacation. One of his daughters asked, ‘Dad will you please spend one, just one day at home and stay with us here?’

Caha nodded his head and replied, ‘Yes darling, tomorrow for sure, I will join you for the lunch and be with you all for next few days. I’m tired of work and need some relaxation!’

Upon hearing the news, the entire family became very happy and were ecstatic knowing that they were finally going to be spending time with Caha!!

Unfortunately, the next day, in the early morning hours, Caha’s entire family perished in a Tsunami that hit the shores of their beach home.

Meanwhile, at his job, Caha was so busy that he didn’t hear the news about Tsunami. Later, when he tried to reach his beach house, the only thing he saw was water and debris everywhere. He screamed and called out for his family, but he never did find anyone from his family. He was totally alone. Caha knew that he can never have them back or see them again. All the money, the millions of dollars that he had earned, could never bring them back.

Then he remembered his wife’s words, ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

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Like I mentioned previously, money can’t buy everything. We all need to remember that the most important and valuable things in life are the things that are unseen. Take time each day to give your loved ones a simple hug, a loving kiss, and tell them how much you love and care for them…because these are the things that money will never be able to buy!

The Acre of Diamonds

Zach Dischner

Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via CC Flickr

The following story was told by Dr. Russell H. Conwell to raise millions of dollars to help fund the formation of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used the story to fire the imagination of his listeners during more than 6,000 fund-raising lectures. The story gives us a tremendous illustration of a way that a person can find true happiness in their own “Acres of Happiness.”

Many, many years ago, a young American was traveling down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East and was accompanied by an old Arab guide that he had hired in Bagdad.

During the trip, the guide told him a story about an ancient Persian Ali Hafed. Hafed owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, gardens, and money coming in from loans that he made. He was a wealthy and contented man.

One day Hafed was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest who told him how the earth was created and, particularly, about the most valuable thing in the world – diamonds!

Said the priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.” The priest told Hafed that, if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of his great wealth.”

This set Hafed’s mind ablaze with a lust for such great wealth. So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and began a search for diamonds in places the priest had said might contain them. Hafed spent all of his money on his lifelong, unsuccessful search and died, far from home, a penniless, suffering, disappointed old man.

The man who purchased Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink and as the camel put its nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light emanating from a black stone in the stream. He pulled out the black stone and placed it on the mantel of his fireplace in his home, and forgot about it.

A few days later the same Buddhist priest who had taught Hafed about the diamonds came to meet the new owner and saw the black stone. “That is a diamond!” he shouted. When his host said that it was just a pebble he had picked up in the garden, the priest replied, “I tell you, I know a diamond when I see it. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the stone is a diamond.”

It turns out that the farm became the famed diamond mine of Golconda, the richest diamond mine in all of history. The Kohinoor diamond and the crown jewels of England and Russia came from that mine.

The moral, of course,  is that, if Hafed had spent his time and energy exploring his own farm, he would have discovered riches beyond his wildest dreams. This story should teach us all, that if you wish you find greatness, and even wealth, you must first begin where you are…NOW! If you serve your community in a positive way, if you are an honest person, if you are a good provider for your family, whether you work in a shop, in a factory, or whatever your occupation may be, you can find happiness and recognition if you do it well. To find success in whatever endeavor that you choose, you must first look for your “acre of diamonds” right where you live.

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Source: “Wisdom Well Said”

Gestures of Kindness

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Photo Credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

There are many kinds of people that we can find in today’s world: the pessimists and optimists, the solemn, the boisterous, the sad, the happy, the mean and nasty, the thoughtful and caring…the list goes on and on. There are also numerous ways that people convey the way they feel towards others by how they act, what they say, and how they behave towards others.

Think of  five different people that you may know…whether or not they are you friends or not does not matter. Think of how they act and/or what they say…OK…think of the way that you feel when they are around you. Do they make you happy or sad? Angry or joyful? Worthless or invaluable? Do they make you feel like a million bucks and on top of the world or like a loser that isn’t worth a dime? Our actions, more than our words, really can mean everything to people that we come in contact with everyday.

Let me tell you this quick little story: Every Sunday, my family and I go to church and every week, as I am walking to my seat, there is one elderly usher, who I will name Charlie, that I always look forward to see the most. I have known Charlie for many years now, but unfortunately, I have never really gotten to know him and I have only learned things about him by bits and pieces. I know that he lives alone with his beloved dog, lost his wife years ago, enjoys camping, and loves the Lord. Like I said, I really don’t know much about him…BUT…I do know this, he is a man with a gentle soul who always has kind words to say, a big smile, a caring spirit, and has always been a HUGE inspiration and source of reassurance to me…he is a quiet man of encouragement!

How many of you are a “Quiet Encouragement” to others? The great thing is this…you don’t have to do or say a lot of things to be a light and inspiration to others! So, make a goal every day and determine how many people you will try to encourage through simple gestures of kindness!