Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A HANDFUL OF CLAY - by Henry Van Dyke

Related image

There was a handful of clay in the bank of a river. It was only common clay, coarse and heavy; but it had high thoughts of its own value, and wonderful dreams of the great place which it was to fill in the world when the time came for its virtues to be discovered.

Overhead, in the spring sunshine, the trees whispered together of the glory which descended upon them when the delicate blossoms and leaves began to expand, and the forest glowed with fair, clear colours, as if the dust of thousands of rubies and emeralds were hanging, in soft clouds, above the earth.

The flowers, surprised with the joy of beauty, bent their heads to one another, as the wind caressed them, and said: “Sisters, how lovely you have become. You make the day bright.”

The river, glad of new strength and rejoicing in the unison of all its waters, murmured to the shores in music, telling of its release from icy fetters, its swift flight from the snow-clad mountains, and the mighty work to which it was hurrying—the wheels of many mills to be turned, and great ships to be floated to the sea.

Waiting blindly in its bed, the clay comforted itself with lofty hopes. “My time will come,” it said. “I was not made to be hidden forever. Glory and beauty and honour are coming to me in due season.”

One day the clay felt itself taken from the place where it had waited so long. A flat blade of iron passed beneath it, and lifted it, and tossed it into a cart with other lumps of clay, and it was carried far away, as it seemed, over a rough and stony road. But it was not afraid, nor discouraged, for it said to itself: “This is necessary. The path to glory is always rugged. Now I am on my way to play a great part in the world.”

But the hard journey was nothing compared with the tribulation and distress that came after it. The clay was put into a trough and mixed and beaten and stirred and trampled. It seemed almost unbearable. But there was consolation in the thought that something very fine and noble was certainly coming out of all this trouble. The clay felt sure that, if it could only wait long enough, a wonderful reward was in store for it.


Then it was put upon a swiftly turning wheel, and whirled around until it seemed as if it must fly into a thousand pieces. A strange power pressed it and moulded it, as it revolved, and through all the dizziness and pain it felt that it was taking a new form.

Then an unknown hand put it into an oven, and fires were kindled about it—fierce and penetrating—hotter than all the heats of summer that had ever brooded upon the bank of the river. But through all, the clay held itself together and endured its trials, in the confidence of a great future. “Surely,” it thought, “I am intended for something very splendid, since such pains are taken with me. Perhaps I am fashioned for the ornament of a temple, or a precious vase for the table of a king.”

At last the baking was finished. The clay was taken from the furnace and set down upon a board, in the cool air, under the blue sky. The tribulation was passed. The reward was at hand.

Close beside the board there was a pool of water, not very deep, nor very clear, but calm enough to reflect, with impartial truth, every image that fell upon it. There, for the first time, as it was lifted from the board, the clay saw its new shape, the reward of all its patience and pain, the consummation of its hopes—a common flower-pot, straight and stiff, red and ugly. And then it felt that it was not destined for a king’s house, nor for a palace of art, because it was made without glory or beauty or honour; and it murmured against the unknown maker, saying, “Why hast thou made me thus?”

Many days it passed in sullen discontent. Then it was filled with earth, and something—it knew not what—but something rough and brown and dead-looking, was thrust into the middle of the earth and covered over. The clay rebelled at this new disgrace. “This is the worst of all that has happened to me, to be filled with dirt and rubbish. Surely I am a failure.”

But presently it was set in a greenhouse, where the sunlight fell warm upon it, and water was sprinkled over it, and day by day as it waited, a change began to come to it. Something was stirring within it—a new hope. Still it was ignorant, and knew not what the new hope meant.

One day the clay was lifted again from its place, and carried into a great church. Its dream was coming true after all. It had a fine part to play in the world. Glorious music flowed over it. It was surrounded with flowers. Still it could not understand. So it whispered to another vessel of clay, like itself, close beside it, “Why have they set me here? Why do all the people look toward us?” And the other vessel answered, “Do you not know? You are carrying a royal sceptre of lilies. Their petals are white as snow, and the heart of them is like pure gold. The people look this way because the flower is the most wonderful in the world. And the root of it is in your heart.”

Then the clay was content, and silently thanked its maker, because, though an earthen vessel, it held so great a treasure.


WALNUT CURLS - by Michael Bowman


by   Michael Bowman 

I'd love to give you my whole life
To make you glow, make you my wife
I'd love to buy you diamond rings
Soft silk and satin, a clock that sings
Lalique and pearls and walnut curls
A painted sea that ebbs and swirls

I'd love to have just half a chance
To watch you laugh, click heels and dance
If I could take you by the hand
We'd run barefoot on sloping sands
Where once you swam as time began
Stole birthday kisses from this man

I'd love to leap into your arms
To catch your breath, capture your charms
I'd set you free to fly forever
We'd dive and swoop and soar together
We'd own the sky, the heavens high
And every cloud that ever cried

If I could give you yesterday
We'd never find a better way
To live and love and share our dreams
To give so much until it seems
Our hopes and fears, our salty tears
Have flowed as one through all these years



by   Ken Ross 

Admiring the beauty of the ocean waves
Drifting towards the land
I wondered about the journey they travelled
To eventually reach the sand
I've always dreamed about taking a journey
To a place along the sea
Where every moment is timeless
In a world of magic and mystery

You and I were hand in hand
Watching the seabirds in flight
Appearing like a silhouette
Against a backdrop of the moonlight
We found ourselves on a magical journey
To a place we wanted to be
When we ventured into the darkness
Towards the sounds of the romantic sea

We walked along the shoreline
Pausing to write in the sand
As we engaged on this timeless journey
To a special wonderland
Some kind of magic took over my heart
When you looked into my eyes
As we held each other very close
Waiting for the sun to rise

I said how much I loved you
And you said the same to me
As we drew a heart in the sand
And creating another memory
We wrote our initials inside the heart
Knowing the tide would soon be in
To carry our love into the sea
And let this romantic journey begin

We will always share a moonlight
With the sounds of the romantic sea
When we hold each other in the darkness
For now and eternity
The wave that carries our special love
Will always drift on forever
As we journey to that magical world
Through the sands of time together

Monday, December 10, 2018


Create art and de-stress by spending some time coloring. Download and print our free mandalas then start creating your masterpiece.

Christmas Embroidery patterns

Snowflake Coloring Pages Kids



by  Orania Hamilton 

How splendid the hour when morning shows
Through its dawning light rendered clear and warm
And there within a mellow breeze that blows
I hear your voice in the sounds of a song

As light slides through cracks of another day
Sun warms the heart with an eternal claim
I hear your whispers that float on to bay
Through fire that roars with a burning flame

Candle light weaves a melody of bliss
A majestic song that sings from the heart
Crowned is the night that brings a soulful kiss
With secrets placed within that love imparts

My eyes glance back yesterdays memories
A tapestry of love woven with years
From the haunting joy of all life's journeys
And the golden threads from a poets tears


Friday, December 7, 2018



How vividly do I remember the Christmas eve and Christmas day of 1882! Ten years make great changes in our lives. Today I am a well-to-do business man, and expect to spend Christmas in my cozy home, with wife and family, and not on the wild, bleak prairies, expecting every moment a dreadful railway catastrophe.

But I had better tell my story from the beginning. Back in 1882 the liberal pay offered by the Canadian Pacific Railway to telegraph operators induced a friend of mine and myself—as I have related elsewhere—to leave Montreal and try our fortunes in the great North-West. We were given free passes as far as Winnipeg. There was a station which needed two operators, some fifty miles up the line, and we were both sent there, arriving on Christmas eve. The train stopped just long enough for us to jump on the platform, and then sped on. There was not a human being to meet us. The station had been without operators for three days, and was bitterly cold. We soon had a big fire started in the telegraph room, and were sitting beside it, discussing the loneliness of the place and the wildness of the night.

While we were talking, the busy little telegraph instrument began busily ticking for our station. The call was answered and a message received, saying that a weather report received by the dispatcher stated that the night would likely be stormy, and my friend was asked to stay up till about one o'clock in the morning, as he might be needed to take a crossing order for two trains at his station. We did not mind staying up, and whiled away the hours in pleasant conversation as we sat as near as we could get to the glowing coal fire. The storm increased and finally settled down into a blizzard. By midnight it was something appalling. There was not a hill, nor even a tree, for scores of miles, to break its force as it dashed against our lonely station. The telegraph wires along the track hummed at intervals loudly enough to be distinctly heard above the shrieks of the wind which buffeted and held high carnival along them.

Frozen particles of snow rattled fiercely against the window panes, carried by the relentless wind, which seemed to me to have conceived the demoniacal intention of wrecking our not very stalwart but exceedingly lonely home, out of revenge for daring to break even one jot of its fury as it hurried madly on. We both lapsed into silence. A feeling of isolation crept over me despite my efforts to fight it off. How separated from the world I felt. It seemed to me to have been years since I had mingled with a crowd. A great longing possessed me to be away from this lonely spot, and walk the streets of some of the large cities I had lived in. Unable longer to bear these thoughts, I rose to go out on to the platform for a moment. No sooner, however, had I raised the latch of the waiting-room door than the fierce wind dashed it against me with great force, while the huge snow-drift which had gathered against it fell upon me, almost burying me out of sight. Laughingly my companion pulled me from under the chilly and unwelcome covering.

I returned once more to the operating room, in a more contented frame of mind, and with a keener appreciation of the comfortable temperature within. A few minutes after one o'clock, the telegraph instrument, which had been silent for some time, suddenly woke to life and commenced imperiously ticking the call of our station. My friend answered, and received from the dispatcher at Winnipeg a crossing order for a west-bound passenger train and an east-bound engine. Our station signal was displayed, and once more we commenced our weary wait for the two iron horses, which were ploughing their way across the wild prairie to meet and cross each other at our station, and then continue their wild journey.

Two o'clock. Still no sign of the trains. We both fell asleep in our chairs.

I seemed scarcely to have closed my eyes when I was startled by the shriek of the east-bound locomotive. I glanced at the clock; it was 3.30. I looked at my companion. He seemed frozen with deadly fear. The next instant he jumped wildly to his feet, rushed to the door, and gazed out into the blinding storm after the engine. It was nowhere in sight. I looked anxiously at him as he tore back into the room, and with trembling hands called the dispatcher's office.

Perspiration was pouring down his face. He could hardly stand. Promptly the instrument ticked back the return call.

"Where is the passenger train?" queried our office. The reply was terrible. "Left for your station three minutes ago. Have you put the engine on the side track?" Back went the answer: "The engine has rushed past the station and has not waited for her crossing."

"My God!" replied the dispatcher, "the two trains will meet."

My companion sank on the chair. His face was ghostly.

"It will be a terrible accident," he said aloud, but to himself—he seemed to have forgotten me in his great terror.

"God help them! God help them!" he reiterated. The situation was so fearful to me that I could only sit and look spell-bound at my friend. The furious storm made the horror of the situation tenfold more unendurable.

It seemed to me that I had been sitting in this trance-like condition for hours, when I was roused by hearing an engine give a certain number of whistles, which indicated it wanted the switch opened. The next moment a man rushed into the office. "Open the switch quick!" he shouted, "the passenger train will be here in two minutes." It was the driver of the engine! My companion sprang joyously to his feet. Without asking a question he ran out into the yard, followed by the engineer.

A few minutes later they both returned. The mystery was soon explained by the driver. He had forgotten the order which had been wired to him, and which he had put in his pocket when he received it, over two hours before, away up the line. He probably would have remembered it when he passed our station had he seen any signal displayed, but he had rushed past. He must have been two miles past the station when, putting his hand into his coat pocket to get his pipe, he felt the peculiar paper upon which crossing orders are written. Like a flash the order to cross with the passenger train at our station came back to his memory.

He could not see a yard ahead of him for the storm, and knew not but the next instant he would be dashing into the passenger train with its burden of precious lives—his heart seemed to cease beating. The engine was instantly reversed, the sudden revulsion nearly tearing the locomotive to pieces. She ran on for fifty yards or more rocking like a ship in a storm. He had hurried back as fast as a full head of steam could bring him, and thus averted a dreadful accident.

We found that our station signal light had been blown out.

Five minutes later both trains had departed, and we went to bed with happy hearts, thankful for the almost miraculous prevention of a dire calamity.

Christmas day, an incident occurred at the station which went a considerable way toward settling our somewhat shattered nerves. The station had not been scrubbed for quite a long time, and was beginning to have anything but an inviting appearance.

After no end of inquiries as to where a washerwoman could be got, we located one at the far end of the village. She was a full-blooded squaw, and one of the most ill-favored specimens of the female sex I had ever set eyes upon.

Two dollars a day was the price agreed upon. She must have made five dollars every day she was at the station. She was a most industrious thief; we could keep nothing in the place from her. Not only would she unblushingly steal our groceries, but under the big loose blanket that hung in folds around her tall, gaunt figure, she actually spirited away our pots, kettles and pans.

She worked just as she pleased. Every half-hour or so she would squat on the floor, pull out an intensely black clay pipe, and indulge in a smoke. I love smoking, but I never failed to put as much distance as possible between myself and the rank black fumes which poured with so much gusto from her mouth. The last place she had to clean was the telegraph office. She entered the office very reluctantly, and furtively glanced at the telegraph instruments. "Me no like great spirit," she said fearfully, pointing to the mass of wires under the table. We talked to her for a long time and finally got her started working. The instruments were cut out so as to make no noise.

Slowly the squaw drew nearer the table where the instruments were. As she did so her coal-black eyes were actually glittering with nervous dread. Just as she was stretching her long arm under the table, a train steamed into the station. The conductor wanted orders. My companion, forgetting the poor squaw, pulled out the switch and turned on the current. Her arm must have been just touching the wires under the table at that instant.

The next moment a terrific yell was uttered by our frantic washerwoman, as she sprang to her feet and rushed for the door, upsetting the bucket of dirty water in her meteor-like progress. Out of the station, across the tracks, and away out on to the open prairie she fled, never pausing till she reached the village, where she turned into an Indian's house and was lost from view. The next morning her son came to get the few articles belonging to her. He would not come any nearer the station than the side-track, and we were compelled to carry her belongings to him.


DANCING - by John Stephens


by  John Stephens 

My love for you I hold in my heart
is an ocean, deep and wide
so far I could never cross,
so deep I cannot reach.

Its beauty like a rose
whose bloom is full and never fails
ever it grows.

There is, it seems, magic there
I saw it in your eyes
when first we met.
I see it still when you turn your gaze my way.

I don't understand it,
but I don't care
it is magic, it is beauty, it is wonder
and every day, every gaze
it is like new and quickens my heart.

Our love is the fountain of youth welling up
and young will we ever be, dancing... dancing...

YOU ARE....- by Tim Kara


by   Tim Kara 

The sun's golden light slowly rises over the field
like your eyes opening with the fading night.

As the night retreats from the sun,
the field sparkles with the morning dew.

The dew moistens the roses
as tears of joy moisten my eyes.

With the rise of the sun the roses begin to bloom
like my heart swells every morning when I look at you.

As the field comes alive every morning with the sun,
so does my life with the opening of your eyes.

You're my sun, my rose, my love.



by  Ken Ross 

I knew this day would eventually come
When I'd want to say these words to you
And it's with these words I hold in my heart
That I now feel I need to renew
I've thought about what I want to say
And was waiting for when the time was right
To say exactly what's on my mind
While you're sitting here with me tonight

I know I get caught up in my own little world
And sometimes I tend to forget
The true meaning of those little words
Which entered my heart the day we first met
If you'll move just a little bit closer
I'll describe the moment when this all began
When I knew you'd be my special lady
And I would be your lucky man

It was an evening in time when I held you close
As we listened to the falling rain
Sitting in front of a warm flickering fire
Sharing our dreams with a glass of champagne
Somehow, I never could have imagined
Spending an evening like that with you
As we talked between the falling raindrops
And expressing our points of view

With my arms wrapped around you
I thought about how hard it would be to let you go
Then you turned around and kissed me
Only then at that moment did I really know
We fell in love on that special night
But I couldn't find the words to say
As you were the only one in my life
Who has ever made me feel that way

When I looked deep into your eyes
And then I took your hand
I knew that all I ever needed
Was to love and to hold you all that I can
You became a part of my little world
And knew that I could never let you go
Because your love meant so much to me
More than you could possibly ever know

After all these years of being together
I needed to say how much I still care
And the only thing I ever wished for
Was that you would always be there
You will always be my special lady
And I love you so very much
I'd be lost in my little world without you
To share your love and your touch

With you by my side and a fire to keep us warm
We'll always welcome the falling rain
When we're holding each other and never letting go
As we fall in love all over again
The words in my heart still mean the same
After all these years of being with you
And the best part of all was knowing
That my very special lady still loves me too