Mid Week Musings

THE CARPENTER’S STORY

The story is told of a talented carpenter who had spent his working life building the most beautiful houses in town. One day he went to his employer, a contractor, and declared his intention to stop working. The contractor was sad to hear this and tried hard to dissuade him but the carpenter’s heart was set on retirement. With great reluctance, the contractor finally agreed to let him go, but on one condition.

“Build me one last house,” he told the carpenter. “Use any materials you like. Plan your own design. Build it as you will.”

And so the carpenter set about to make the final house of his long and illustrious career. But after only a short time it became clear for all to see that his heart was not in the project. The design of the house was ordinary, the materials were sub-standard and the finished product was nothing like the works of art he had built earlier in his career.

Finally, the house was built and when the carpenter handed the keys to the contractor, the contractor handed the keys back to him and said, “I wanted to show you my appreciation for all the years you have worked for me. This house is my gift to you.”

The carpenter was shocked! If only he had known he was building his own house, how differently he would have gone about it all

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we’d do it much differently. But we cannot go back.

You are the carpenter of your life. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or make a wall. Your attitudes and the choices you make today build your house for tomorrow. Build wisely!

The beginning of a new year is a great time to think about how we want the rest of our lives to look like, and start to live accordingly.

Have a very happy 2022!

Team Anahat 

Mid Week Musings

THE NIGHT THE FIGHTING STOPPED

World War I (1914 – 1918) was one of the deadliest conflicts in modern history and claimed more than 16 million lives. Worst of all was the trench warfare, where troops shot at each other from hundreds of miles of deep trenches dug into the ground. Life in the trenches was miserable. To leave one’s trench was to risk being shot and killed. The distance between the opposing trenches was known as ‘No Man’s Land’.

But on Christmas eve, 1914, along the war’s Western Front in Flanders, Belgium, something strange and wonderful happened. On one side were the English and the French, hunkered down in their trenches. On the other side, doing the same, were the Germans. The war had been raging for five months. It was a bitterly cold and still night.  

Suddenly, from across the frozen ground of No Man’s Land drifted the sound of voice of German soldiers singing, “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht…“ softly at first, and then louder with each verse. Although the words were foreign, the carol’s tune—and its message—was unmistakable. 

The English and French troops responded, raising their voices and singing, “Silent Night, Holy Night…” 

Back and forth, the men exchanged verses in English and German. This went on for several minutes. Then, from the depths of a German trench, a soldier raised a handwritten sign: “YOU NO SHOOT, WE NO SHOOT.” In response, the English and French soldiers waved a banner that read: “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”  

Cautiously, the unarmed men began to emerge from their trenches.  Slowly, they crossed the dreaded No Man’s Land, where they stood face-to-face. For a moment, the highly trained soldiers didn’t quite know what to do. Awkwardly, they extended and shook each others‘ hands. They even embraced. Some turned their heads to hide their tears. They gave each other permission to collect and properly bury their dead. They exchanged prisoners. And then, for the remainder of that miraculous night and throughout Christmas Day, they sang carols exchanged gifts of cake, chocolates, biscuits and jam. Some even played a game of soccer.  

By mid-morning Christmas day, horrified officers on both sides summoned their men back to the trenches. Within hours the Fifth Scottish Rifles issued an order saying: “We are here to fight, not to fraternize.”

The soldiers obeyed and the firing recommenced. The war, as history tragically records, destroyed almost that entire generation of young men on both sides. But those who lived to tell the tale, never forgot the Christmas of 1914. (Incidentally, the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City has even published an online gallery of hundreds of accounts of the Christmas truce — letters home from soldiers that were published in British papers.)

The story is a beautiful reminder that as human beings, we have much more in common with each other than we realize. If we just take the time to look for it, we will discover what we already have what we need to live in peace and harmony.

‘Midweek Musings’ will be back with you again on January 5, 2022. 

We wish you the very best of the season and a happy new year!

Team Anahat 

Mid Week Musings

LEARNING FROM THE BEATLES!

In January 1969, a film crew was given unprecedented access to film The Beatles at work. This resulted in 57 hours of the most intimate footage ever shot of one of the most iconic bands in history. The footage was locked in a vault for over half a century till movie director Peter Jackson turned it into a fascinating 3-part documentary called Get Back (currently playing on Disney Hotstar).

The band had less than three weeks to write and record a new album of 14 songs and film a concert of these songs for a TV show and documentary.

If there is one thing that seems to stand out above all else in the documentary, it is the sheer hard work the Beatles put into their music, and the attention they paid to every line of every song till it sounded just right. Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” The Beatles certainly proved him right.

Theirs was a genius that emerged after much trial, error, and hard work. At one point in the project, after they had tried unsuccessfully for days to write new songs, and frustration was starting to set in, band member Paul McCartney reminded them, “We do our best when our backs are against the wall.”

They persevered together through their creative slump, and sure enough, succeeded in producing a memorable album and performed their final public concert together on the rooftop of Apple Studios.

There is something deeply encouraging about watching even a group as iconic as the Beatles struggling with creating something new, working through their differences of opinion, trying, failing, trying, failing, trying… and then finally succeeding in creating a masterpiece!

One is left feeling at the end of documentary that if they could push through their difficulties and create great work despite daunting odds, perhaps we can, too. 

Have a great week! 

Team Anahat