Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A Guinea Party

A couple of days ago I was invited at my boss's house out in the country for "a little bite to eat and a drink", as he called it.

He lives in one of those big mansions that posh people have, you know, just like the one where Theodore Luxton-Joyce lives. (NOTE: Thank you Martha for your lovely AMAZON Review of this book. Readers - please click on Theodore Luxton-Joyce to read this wonderful Review. Martha's Blog is highly recommended - CLICK HERE).

He had invited a number of people from work as well as a few of his friends and golf-playing pals and a number of people from his gentleman's club. It was mainly a stand-up affair where everyone stands in this large room mingling and talking whilst a multitude of waitresses come round offering you hors d'oeuvre, canap├ęs and small little bites you would not give your dog; and a number of waiters offer you various drinks, mainly alcoholic rather than a good pint of lemonade, or a cup of tea.

Anyway, I had been invited and it was not the kind of invitation you would turn down. More a three-line whip as they say in political circles. 

As it happens, just before I set off from my office I got a phone call: "Could you pick up Bertie the guinea pig from the vet please? ... Please ... Pretty please ... We'll be ever so grateful for the rest of the year ... Please!!!"

Why can't they pick up their own stupid pets? Anyway, at the vets the nurse said that Bertie was still a little sleepy from the anaesthetic and will be so for the rest of the day. Have I got his little carrying cage?

Have I heck? I said yes and took the little creature and put him in my brief case to keep him warm.

At the party, whilst everyone was mingling and being ever so polite and upper-class, don't you know, what? Jolly good old chap. And all that. Someone noticed my sleeping Bertie walk along the wall. He must have woken up and got out of my case when I went to fetch the Marketing Report for my boss and forgot to close the case again. 

Now normally, any sane person would have said there's a guinea pig about.

Just point at the creature and say: "By Jove, there's a most magnificent specimen of the guinea pig variety, don't you know ... what?" Now isn't that something you have often said at parties?

But NOOOO. On this occasion some idiot from the golf club said: "There's a rat here, a damn big rat!"

"A rat?"

"Yes ... a rat!"

"Where?"

"Over there!"

"Where over there?"

"It was there. He's now gone over there I think ..."

"A big fat ugly rat ..."

"It's now ran over there ... look out ... he might bite!"

"Rats carry the platonic plague, you know ..."

"Yes, it's in their teeth. One bite and you're a gonna!"

"I don't want it to tear my 15 Denier nylon stockings ..."

"Don't be silly, man. Why are you wearing nylon stockings anyway?"

"Because I couldn't buy nylon tights to fit me!"

"Over there ... I've seen the rat over there ... it's big and furry ..."

Pretty soon there was pandemonium in that room. My boss's wife was mortified as well as mummified at the thought of having rodents in her house. 

"We don't have rats in this house, have we Luis?" she asked her husband.

"No ... there's quite a few at work though ..." he replied referring to his employees.

Everyone was running here there and everywhere in no particular direction trying to avoid and escape a non-existent rat who happened to be my sleeping Bertie taking a walk. 

Women, including the waitresses in their mini skirts, suddenly jumped on top of chairs, sofas, armchairs or whatever furniture of height, like the table at the end of the room, and held their skirts and dresses up high showing off their un-mentionables. I really did not realise there were that many varieties of underpants for the ladies.

What is it with you ladies? What is the point of standing on a chair with your skirt held up high? Do you think the rat, or any other creature, would climb up your legs? The very sight of you screaming would most probably send him to apoplexy.

I noticed there was even a wimp of a man standing on a chair and holding tight to a young waitress. On second thoughts, maybe he was taking advantage of the situation.

The butler came in with an assistant and tried to find the rat and kill it with a heavy shovel in his hand.

Luckily, I noticed Bertie cowering in the corner just by the grand-father clock. I quickly bent down, picked him up and put him in my trouser pocket. The stupid animal thanked me for saving him from certain death by biting my finger and whatever else he found in my pocket. He then proceeded to tumble and somersault in my pocket in a most embarrassing display which I wouldn't want you to imagine right now!!!

Luckily, no one saw him or his acrobatics in my trouser pocket. And the rat was not found or seen ever again.

The party continued in a most subdued manner, and I noticed no one was eating the hors d'oeuvre.

Monday, 30 March 2020

NEEDED ... Two or three people with trust.

"Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven. For where two or three gather together in My name, there I am with them." Matthew 18: 19-20

Let us pray for a miracle.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

I am afraid ...

Many people around the world are afraid right now. It is a natural emotion. I believe that Jesus, in His human form, was afraid when He walked this earth. He must have been afraid in the garden of Gethsemane when He asked God to take the suffering away. Also, when on the Cross and He believed God had abandoned Him.

Can you imagine that? The Son of God believing that His Father had abandoned Him?

In both occasions when Christ was afraid, I believe it was the devil tempting Him. Just like he is tempting many of us to be afraid of our current situation.

One way to combat fear is to be thankful. To be thankful to God for all the good things He has done for us in the past. Each one of us can look back over our lives and remember occasions when things were bad, very bad, yet God was with us. Even if we did not know it at the time.

By thanking and praising God for those times we are acknowledging His power and His control over all things. We are also hopeful that this time too, He is with us, a prayer away, ready to help and to see us through our crisis.

When Lazarus died, Jesus said, "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God ..."

I believe the same applies today.

Let us now read the story about Lazarus.

*******

 John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45

"So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."

Note that Jesus does not go straight-away to heal Lazarus. He waits for two more days. He also says that this illness will not lead to death.

"When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days ... Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’"

Jesus arrives after Lazarus has been dead for four days. This is very significant. In those days some people believed that the soul does not leave the body until after three days. Jesus wanted to make sure that Lazarus was dead before performing His miracle. He did not want anyone to suggests that Lazarus was just sleeping or in a coma; as may well have happened in previous occasions when He raised someone from the dead. This time He wanted to make sure that the people understood that the power of God can raise people from the dead.

Notice also how Martha reprimands Jesus. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Don't we too, kick back and blame God when something goes wrong in our lives? Note also the faith in that very sentence. She believes that Jesus could have saved Lazarus, had He been here. She reprimands Jesus. That in itself is an expression of faith. There is no point in reprimanding or getting angry with someone who can do nothing about it. But the very fact she reprimands Jesus shows that she knew He could do something about it had He been there.

When we are in great grief, or despair, we sometimes lash out at God. We blame Him for what has happened. This is only natural. It is our human nature speaking.

God knows that and He can take our anger. After all, He took all our anger and hatred when He hung there from the Cross.

Like in Martha's case, God forgives. We should in return hold on to our Faith and believe that everything is possible to God.

Note that Martha also says,"But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." When miracles happen it is always through the will of God, in the name of Jesus. Sometimes people ask Saints for miracles. When the Apostles walked this earth they performed miracles too. See Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16. Also see Peter's miracles when he heals Aeneas and raises Dorcas from the dead. Acts 9:32-43. On both occasions and elsewhere in Acts the Apostles the early Christians performed miracles through the power of God in the name of Jesus. It is God who performs miracles. Not the Saints. Even today miracles happen through the power of God.

"Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’"

He re-iterates His message that He has the power to raise Lazarus. And Martha too, confirms that she believes Jesus is the Son of God.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

This is also significant. Mary joins her sister to meet Jesus and she too says, "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died". The crowd murmur that Jesus healed many sick people why did He not come earlier to save Lazarus.

"Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’"

Let there be no doubt that Lazarus is dead.

"And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’"

Jesus re-affirms to His Father that this miracle is to make the people believe that He is the Son of God. This whole episode in Christ's life has one main purpose. To make the people believe.

Jesus deliberately arrived late to ensure that Lazarus was dead. Let there be no doubt about that. His sister and the crowd knew that. After four days, in the hot heat, the body would have decomposed and begin to smell.

In previous miracles, many sceptics and cynics would have said that the individual was probably not dead. He may have been in a deep sleep, or in a coma. Not much of a miracle.

This time Jesus waited for four days after death and burial to turn up and raise Lazarus. He wanted there to be no doubt that Lazarus is dead and that he has been raised back to life. No doubt that God's glory, through Him, will be seen by everyone.

Jesus says "unbind him, and let him go." Let that be a message to us when we are unbound from our sins and let go freely forgiven once again.

"Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him."

At last ... some ... of the Jews believed.

From the very beginning Jesus had said, "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the son of God will receive glory."

Our lesson is to learn that when things go wrong ... very ... very wrong; we need only believe that the end result will be that God is glorified, as is His will.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Don't Let The Devil Win !

THE BOOK THE DEVIL TRIED TO STOP

ISBN-13: 979-8628750476

The closer we come to God and the more we love Him, the more the devil fights to derail us and to tempt us away from our Faith. He tried this with Jesus several times, so we should not be much of a match for him. Prayers are always the answer to such onslaughts.

In this book about Father Ignatius we witness the devil tempting and tormenting him time and again; even resorting to physical and mental pain to the much loved priest. The battle between Father Ignatius and the devil is one we may have experienced in our own lives as we too became prey to his evil wiles.

DON’T LET THE DEVIL WIN takes you through a journey often reaching breaking point, and yet affirming that God is always by our side. Only a prayer away. 

This book is full of advice on how to react when confronted with difficult seemingly insurmountable situations in life.  

Available from AMAZON

NOTE: DON'T LET THE DEVIL WIN! is the latest novel featuring Father Ignatius.

Other novels in chronological order are:


Click on the titles for more details.

DON'T LET THE DEVIL WIN! has proved very difficult to write. It is as if the devil did not want it written. He did not want the message that he can be defeated, he can be left at bay, to be spread far and wide. But he can be defeated through prayers and real trust in God.

Normally, when I write a book, the words seem to flow rapidly from my mind and onto the keyboard. This did not happen with this book. There were many starts and stops. Many blank moments in my mind on HOW to write something which needed to be said. There were also many technical problems with the computer and the fear of losing all I had written. I made several back-up copies just in case I'd lose everything.

Anyway, here's the book. I hope you like it and I hope it helps someone somewhere. Please pass on the message to anyone whom you think this book will help.

PAPERBACK CLICK HERE
KINDLE HERE

Peter ... Peter ...

What do we know about Peter?

He was a fisherman chosen by Christ as a disciple. He immediately left his nets by the sea shore and followed Jesus. (Matthew 4:18).

For three years, he and the other disciples, lived with Jesus. They saw Him as a human being, just like them, although He was also God. They heard Him teach, and saw His many miracles: turning water to wine, calming the sea, walking on water and healing the sick and raising the dead.

Peter and the others witnessed all this. Peter in particular was the chosen one by Christ. In many occasions he was one of the few to witness certain events, and to be there when the other disciples were not. What a privilege that is. Being one of the few to be there at certain important times in Christ's life.

But what do we know about Peter's character? And what do we learn from it?

He was the first disciple to be called by Jesus. (Luke 5:1-9).

He can be a little impetuous and acting on impulse. When Jesus walked on water towards the boat Peter asked if he too could walk towards Christ. Jesus said: Yes, and Peter soon jumped into the lake, walked a few steps, then lost Faith and almost drowned. (Matthew 14:22).

He can talk without thinking. When Jesus taught His disciples that He was to die and then rise from the dead, Peter rebuked Christ, his own Master, and told Him this should not happen. (Matthew 16:21).

Days later, when Peter, James and John were up a high mountain with Jesus; and they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus, again, Peter comes forward mouth first and suggests he builds three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. What was he thinking? Having a picnic up there? (Matthew 17:1).

At the last supper it was Peter who refused to have his feet washed. He thought he knew better. (John 13: 1-10).

He was the one who bravely declared that he will never leave Jesus and would die for Him. (Luke 22: 31-34).

When Jesus was arrested, Peter really lost his head. He drew out his sword and attacked the high priest’s servant. (John 18:10).

Yet, not so longer later he denied knowing Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54).

I am sure you can think of other examples to describe Peter's character and behaviour.

So there you have it. A hothead, a loud mouth, who denies His Master even though he said he never would.

Yet, he then went on to lead Christ’s early church to greater things.

Let us now consider Peter after Christ's death and resurrection, and see how Jesus not only forgave him but also prepared him to greater things.

After the resurrection Jesus appeared to His followers several times. On one occasion He appeared by Lake Tiberias to seven disciples, including Peter. After they had eaten Jesus took Peter aside and three times He asked him if he loved Him. Thus indicating that Peter would indeed follow Jesus to bring Glory to God. (John 21: 1-19).

Later on, in Acts Of The Apostles, we see a different Peter. He can now perform miracles. He makes a lame man walk. (Acts 3: 1-9).

Note that Peter says " ... In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!"

He recognises that this new power he has to perform miracles has nothing to do with him personally. But it is through the power of Jesus Christ that he performs such miracles.

Later we learn that not only Peter but all the apostles performed miracles. Sick people sat in the streets awaiting Peter's shadow to fall on them and heal them. (Acts 5: 12-16).

Can you imagine that? Peter's shadow falling on the sick and miraculously healing them.

Imagine for a moment it was you. Imagine that as you walk the streets your shadow falls on a poor beggar sitting there with many ailments and he is healed. How would you feel?

Would you think you're superhuman? Or would you be humbled that God saw you fit to carry on with His work on earth?

How did Peter feel do you think? He knew he was no superman. He knew that despite witnessing all of Christ's powers and miracles he still failed and denied Him three times.

But he knew something else. Despite being such a sinner, Jesus forgave him and gave him the courage and power to rise up and work for God's glory.

And that's how we should feel. We may not have the power to heal the sick, or any other powers we read about in the Bible. But we have the power, and should have the courage, to witness in His name.

Especially now when the secular world does not want to hear.

God is forgiveness. No matter what we have done, no matter what our sin is, if we truly repent and promise not to repeat our sin, God will forgive us and help us to greater things.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Do Not Read This

WARNING

This post contains scenes of a sexual nature. 
Please do not read if you are easily offended.

Now read on ...

I think pigeons are stupid. When I lived in London years ago I was visiting an elderly friend who needed some help in her garden.  I went out in the garden with my ladder; you know, the one that opens like the letter A. I planned to get a little higher up a tree and pick some plums for her.

Two pigeons flew by and landed on the fence separating her garden from the neighbours. I stood still so as not to disturb them. One of them flew to the other fence; followed by the other a few seconds afterwards. Then the first one flew on the ground; followed by the other. Up on the fence; followed by the other. It walked up and down the fence; followed by the other.

It was obvious the follower, the male, wanted to get acquainted and buy her a coffee. She did not seem interested. Or did she?

He used all the old time-tried chat-up lines, "What is a nice lady like you doing in a garden like this?"

I was offended at the disparaging remark about this old lady's garden. But I waited and said nothing.

He then said, "Heaven must be missing an angel. 'Cause you're here with me right now."

I thought, "Really? This is an old 1976 song by Tavares which I used to play on the radio! Can't you think of something more modern?"

He ignored me and continued talking amorously to the uninterested female pigeon.

This reminded me of my chat-up lines when I was young.

"Hey up! Would ye like a Big Mac and a milkshake?"

She said no! I replied, "I only asked because I want to go to the toilet. They have one at McDonald's!"

Do you remember any chat-up lines from when you were courting? Share them with us.

Anyway, the two pigeons took their love-making to the next level; which I will not describe.

I just said, "Oh ... get a room!"

I did not realise that my voice carried, because from the other side of the fence a female voice said, "I didn't realise you can see us. Where are you?"

I couldn't run away. She'd heard me. I sheepishly climbed up the ladder and there, with her boy friend, she was doing on the trampoline what you are imagining now.

"Hi," she said, "it's more exciting when there's a risk of being found out!"

I nodded and waved my hand and got off the ladder.

So there you have it. Plenty for you to comment on and have a discussion.

Pigeons.

Chat-up lines.

Trampolines.

Anything else on your mind ...

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

It's all in my thoughts, really.

I was thinking the other day ... which came first? The chicken or the egg? So I ordered both from AMAZON. I'll let you know when they arrive.

It's like asking, why did the chicken cross the road? Who cares. Probably to go to the KFC restaurant.

Why do people think up stupid sayings and somehow they catch on and everyone is repeating them?

Like for instance, they say an elephant never forgets. Well, that's not true. I have never received a birthday card from an elephant. You'd have thought at least one of them would remember.

Personally, I have a memory of an elephant. I remember years ago I went to London Zoo and saw an elephant. What a memory that was!

What is the point really of going to a zoo? I think zoos should only have five animals. The rest are a total unnecessary waste. Children go to zoos to see the lion, the tiger, the elephant, the giraffe and of course the monkeys. The rest are not important.

Who really cares about going to the zoo and seeing a tortoise? Or a frog? Or snakes? Or a hyena? Or a snail?

Which reminds me. A hyena in the forest meets some monkeys and asks for their help. Apparently, every so often a lion attacks it and beats it black and blue. The monkeys agree to help. A little later the lion attacks the hyena in a ferocious fight. The monkeys all climb up a tree and watch.

Eventually, the lion has had enough fun and walks away, leaving the hyena torn to pieces.

"Why did you not help me?" the hyena asks the monkeys.

They replied, "You were laughing so much we thought you were enjoying it!"

As for the snail. One day as I was going to work I noticed a snail on my doorstep. I nearly trod on it and killed it. To save it from a mishap I picked it up and threw it in a bush some three feet away out of harm's way.

A week later the doorbell rang. I opened the door and the snail said, "What was all that about, throwing me in the bush?"

Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would be three days before you're surprised?

Talking of going to work; I tell you what caught my eye the other day. A short man with an umbrella. Why can't people be careful when opening their umbrellas?

I walked passed a Coffee Bar. Not many people there. Did you know that coffee is not everyone's cup of tea?

I called on the doctor and told him my eye hurts every time I drink tea. He said, "Take the spoon out of the cup first!"

I then went by a furniture store. They had beds and mattresses on a sale of 25% off. I bought a memory mattress. Now it is trying to blackmail me!

Did you know that 13% of babies are conceived in an IKEA bed? Surprising since those stores are usually well lit.

At the same Department Store I tried to buy a lovely negligent for my wife. I asked the sales lady, "Is this satin?"

"No," she said, "it is brand new!" (Think about this one. I did not understand it when I first thought of it).

Further on down the road there was a glazier fixing a broken shop window. My uncle was a glazier. One day he changed all the glass in an office block. Then he realized he had a crack in his spectacles.

As I walked through the park a loose dog bit my leg. It's owner said to me, "It's karma!"

"No," I said, "he seems much angrier now!"

When I got to work I discovered my secretary totally distraught because her cat had died. So I went to the pet shop and bought her an identical cat. Now she has two dead cats.

Talking of which, I have been going to a grief counsellor for the past month. He taught me all about dealing with grief. He was very good. He died this morning and I did not care one bit.

(Sorry ... in bad taste. I'm struggling here to get a smile from you!)

I lived in a very rough district when I was young. If you were a stranger and you were lost the people would give you directions and then follow you in the park to mug you.

Many of my friends had a difficult up-bringing with uncaring parents. Fred for instance. He did not know what it's like to be wanted until he saw his picture on a police notice board.

My parents used to make me walk the plank. We did not have a dog.

People were very poor then. They bought a lot of things on loan and paid a little every week including extortionate interest. They borrowed from loan sharks.

I remember a family who borrowed money to bury their Nan when she died. On the second week they could not afford to pay.

The loan shark said, "You'd better pay up or up she comes!"

I think that's enough for now, before you start throwing rotten tomatoes.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

God's Waiting Room



I had to go for a medical check up recently. They call me every now and then to check whether my sense of humour is still intact.

I hate waiting in the waiting-room with other people, most of whom look so miserable I'm sure they wouldn't bring a smile between them at a funeral.

I fumbled through the magazines most of which are so old they might as well be written in Latin, covering such exciting subjects like Equestrian Monthly, Yachting World, and Mountaineering. Why do doctors and dentists have these types of magazines in their waiting-rooms? Looking around me, I doubt any of these people could take part in any of these activities anyway. I on the other hand ...

They have a big monitor in the waiting-room and every so often it shows your name and which room to go to. Meanwhile they show adverts for vaccinations and immunisations, medical check-ups for all sorts of illnesses, health insurance, and even old peoples' homes and funeral directors. You can't get more cheerful than that, can you?

Eventually my turn came and I went in to see the pretty young nurse. She smiled and asked me to sit down next to her and then she read off the computer monitor the results she had received from the hospital. She pointed at the screen and explained all the figures there. Cholesterol levels, sugar levels, and this and that level and so on.

She then suggested she takes my blood pressure. As she leant forward towards me to take my pulse and blood pressure I noticed that a couple of buttons on her blouse were undone. Not surprisingly, my heart beat and blood pressure were higher than normal.

One improvement the medical profession can make is not to have pretty young nurses take your blood pressure. A dragon with flaming nostrils on the other hand would frighten one so much that blood temperature would probably freeze to below zero and register no pressure at all.

But what has all this to do with the title to this article?

Well, whilst waiting in that waiting-room I wondered what it's like waiting in God's Waiting-Room.

You know ... when you are waiting there for your final diagnosis and decision.

Fumbling through whatever magazines they have there, like how to fit new wings on an Angel, or how to learn to play the harp in ten easy lessons. I bet you all the magazines will be in Latin or Aramaic. Why can't the magazines be in English? I always thought God is English. After all, all the Bibles I've read are in English, so He must be English.

Anyway, imagine sitting there in God's Waiting-Room fretting and worrying about what He will say.  Mentioning all the things we have done or omitted to do in our life on earth. All the things we've said or not said. Hurting other people. I wonder what results will show up on God's computer monitor and whether the results will be pleasing all round or not. What if His computer is wrong? But then, God is never wrong is He?

Too late to worry now. What's been done has been done and now is the time for the final reckoning. Now is the time to find out whether we are really "dead" for eternity or whether we'd be welcomed into His loving arms.

But then ... the moral of this story surely is ... just as we have plenty of opportunities now to keep our health in check and to monitor it when it is not as well as it should be. Surely now is also the time to monitor the state of our soul's health so that when we are in that Heavenly Waiting-Room we'd have no reason to worry at all.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Missing Without A Trace



I’ve been missing for two days. Without a trace. No one knew I was missing … except me of course. I suspect none of you noticed my absence.

The family were away for the weekend - Saturday and Sunday only.

Let me explain that we live in a very old Victorian house which has a cellar spanning the whole floor area of the property. You enter the cellar from a door just under the staircase.

We don’t use this basement often, it’s mostly a storage area nowadays where we keep half a dozen bottles of wine lying lazily on a shelf which I built myself … slightly leaning to one side mind you … but still OK if you wedge a book at the end and it stops the bottles from rolling off.

We also keep some foodstuff down there, mostly tins of soup, various tins of vegetables and fruits and other household goods like detergents, washing liquids and so on. And books, plenty of books. I built a few more shelves in one corner which I call the library and we've put a number of books which we refer to every now and then. You get the idea … it's just a storage area for things we use now and then.

The basement used to be a small apartment for a servant or butler in years gone by … it has a small kitchenette and bathroom still fully plumbed in and in working order, and a tiny living/sleeping area.

I needed a book about Australian parasites so off I went downstairs as one would in such circumstances. 

As I got to the corner where the books are, there was an almighty crash in the house as the dog started chasing the cat who followed me down in the basement. 

The dog … huge as he is … did not quite fit in under the staircase where the basement door is situated, but his immense stature slammed the door shut. That’s when I heard a clunk … clunk … clunk … sound all the way down the stairs and at my feet.

Perhaps I should have mentioned that the door handle has always been a little loose. I’ve always planned to fix it … Lord knows I’ve been told often enough … but with that and the leaning shelves it was all a question of priorities. Which one to fix first … and neither was done!

I picked up the door handle and tried to open the door. No use … it would not work. And that’s how I went missing without a trace in my own house.

No one knew I was there. No use shouting for help. No one would hear me. No point in phoning for help. I didn’t have the cell-phone with me.

Try as I might to open the door but it was all in vain. An hour or so later I heard the phone ring in the house and the loudspeaker on the answering machine said “Hello … we’ve arrived safely … Oh … you must be out. See you when we return. Have fun. Bye!”

Great … what a prospect. Trapped in my own house without a TV for two days.

Now it is said that in such circumstances of extreme trauma one should sit down calmly, take deep breaths and concentrate. No need to panic.

Calm down and concentrate.

And nothing aids concentration more than a drop or two of wine.

Fortunately we have plenty of that here. Or beer if one prefers … which is also easily to hand.

After an hour or so of concentration I still had no idea on how to get out of my prison.

My mind was getting a little hazy … perhaps it’s the lack of air down here. There’s a small window at the far end of the basement leading to the back garden of the house. It’s at ground level when you’re out in the garden … if you see what I mean. It’s too small to get out of; and it is barred anyway. 

Let's take another drink and concentrate.

Now then … if I could get the cat out of the window he could go for help! (Hic ... pardon me ... hiccup!)

I could tie a message to his collar! No that won’t do … he doesn’t wear a collar. Too dangerous you see, he could get caught on a tree branch and injure himself. So we’ve never put a collar on him. Perhaps I could go out and buy him a collar. Ooops ... I can't get out ... hic!

Perhaps I could tattoo a distress message on his body … a bit extreme I must say! It’ll stay with him for life. “HELP … I’m trapped in the basement!”

The problem is I have no tattooing equipment whatsoever down here, and I’ve never tattooed anyone in my life let alone a cat.

What if I cut a message in his fur with scissors? Like some people do with their hairstyle when they cut their hair in different patterns? Would the cat stay still long enough until I finish cutting his fur I wonder?

I think I need another drink … hic!

Ah … I got it. This is certain to work. I could empty all these tins of peas … well some of them anyway … no one likes peas. I could tie them to one another with a long string and tie that to the cat’s tail.

He’d make such a noise running all over town that someone is sure to find him and read my message which will be written on one of the tins.

I emptied about a dozen tins. Peas taste awful when eaten cold you know … even washed down with beer. 

I tied the tins together. Wrote a message on several tins to make sure it is read. 

I called the cat sleeping happily in the corner. I tripped on the Australian book lying on the floor. The cat suddenly got up and shot out through the window.

Typical of that cat … un-cooperative to the last. He just would not help me in my hour of need.

I was found fast asleep Sunday night when the family returned home. And you didn't even miss me.

More stories about my cat in my book  
"FELINE CATASTROPHES"

Friday, 20 March 2020

Suffering



I was day dreaming the other day and I wondered; what if I came face to face with a genie? You know, the one out of a bottle or an old oil lamp. And what if he gave me one wish.

Just one wish. What would it be? Happiness for myself and my family? Riches? Good health? That’s three wishes for a start; and I only have one wish to make.

As I sobered up and considered this carefully I thought I’d ask the genie to end all suffering in the world. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful? No more suffering from hunger and poverty. No more suffering from illness and old age. No more suffering from violence and bullying. No more suffering of any kind anywhere in the world. I wonder what that would be like.

Then I thought about suffering. It comes our way from time to time and stays with us for varying periods, sometimes for ever, and hurts us to varying degrees. Why, and what should we do about it?

I believe that God allows suffering to come our way for reasons best known to Himself.

But I also believe that He takes no great delight in seeing us suffer. It isn’t for Him a means by which He somehow “purifies” us from our sins, or an essential condition which we should accept gladly as a badge of honour, or some sort of sacrifice to repay Him for what He has done for us.

Let’s face it; there is NOTHING we can do which will ever repay what God did for us. And He does not, and never has, asked for repayment by means of suffering and donning sackcloth and ashes, or reciting endless prayers, or lighting candles or placing flowers in front of statues. God never asked for any such thing, and I repeat, there is NOTHING we can do to repay God for what He did for us, and for Christ's sacrifice.

In fact the New Testament is full of evidence that God is against our suffering.

Christ acted against suffering when He saw the sick and the poor, the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the lame, as well as those possessed by the devil. On every occasion He stopped suffering by healing those brought to Him. Even when suffering was the result of death itself, as for instance when His friend Lazarus died and his family were distraught; Christ acted against the suffering of death and raised Lazarus once again.

I suppose it can be said that Jesus took upon Him all the suffering of the world when He hung dying on the Cross.

And even today, Christ is fighting against suffering. For He is alive and with us now as He was after the Resurrection.

His Holy Spirit fights against suffering through the hands of many who can heal through prayers and the miracles performed in His name. His Holy Spirit is at work fighting suffering through the miracles at Lourdes and elsewhere. His Holy Spirit is fighting suffering through the miracles and intercessions of the Saints. And His Holy Spirit is fighting suffering through us; yes … you and me. Not just people in the medical professions, but every one of us is empowered to alleviate the suffering of others by what we do, or say, or by just by being there for those in need.

When suffering befalls us God does not want us to accept it as a sacrifice and suffer in silence. To do so is tantamount to saying that He wills it and delights in it and we should accept it.

God does not ask the sick man to suffer in joy and not seek any medical advice. Or not to pray for healing and to do nothing about it. God does not ask anyone to accept suffering willingly and do nothing about it.

Only Christ accepted suffering willingly and He did so for a Divine purpose to redeem us all from our sins.

That God allows our suffering is in no doubt. But I repeat, He does not delight in it and He does not wish us just to accept it without any attempt to confront it and fight it. He would wish us to act against the evil of suffering just as Christ did when He walked this earth. Jesus welcomed the sick and the dying and He had pity on them and healed them. He did not tell them to go suffer in silence, or in joy, because He was too busy preaching about God's Kingdom. He acted against suffering on every occasion and never turned anyone down.

Through prayers we act and seek help for the ending or easing of our suffering. Through the intercession of the Saints, the Archangel Rafael known as The Healer, or through the help of those blessed with the power of healing. We can and should act to ease or end our suffering whatever it may be.

Like the woman who dared to touch Christ’s garment we too should dare to ask for His help; rather than accept suffering as if it were our duty to just grin and bear it.

To suffer in silence and do nothing about it is a great disservice to the Lord as it portrays a certain lack of Faith and Trust in Him and His love and mercy.

Just like all those people who asked Christ to end their suffering we should dare to believe that God is but a prayer away and He wills the end of our suffering.

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24

The world is in turmoil right now, and there is suffering of every kind we can imagine. Indeed, we can pray to God to end all this suffering, and He will listen. But there is something else we can do also. Yes, we too, you and me, can perform our little miracles and end suffering when we see it in others.

When we see Lazarus starving at our doorstep, when we see the old neighbour needing help with the shopping or the housekeeping, when we see our colleague at work struggling under the bullying of an oppressive boss … we too can reach out our hand and help in some way to ease and end that suffering.

Maybe that is why God allows suffering to happen in the world. Not for us to accept it and suffer in silence. But to give each one of us an opportunity to help in any way we can to end or ease the suffering of others.

When I think about it, we don’t need a genie to end the suffering of the world. We have the power of that genie within us. We just don’t want to use it.

And that makes God sad.