BREAD AND CIRCUSES
by Rev Fr Derrick Mendis
Rome with bread and circus-shows,
Distracted citizens from their woes.
Our rulers employ the ploys of Rome,
To beguile the hoi-polloi at home
With cricket, rugger, racing-cars,
Lavish pageants and Bollywood stars.
Highways, freeways, their priority need,
To travel fast at breakneck speed,
Harbours, airports, stadiums, what not,
At god-forsaken Hambantot.
Slums and shanties demolished,
Colombo beautified, neat and polished.
Five-star hotels, apartments- high-rise,
Posh boutique-chalets at a price.
Lanka, touted ‘Island Paradise’,
‘Millions’ of tourists will entice.
The helpless taxpayer pays the price,
With tightened belt and self-sacrifice.
Lanka’s leaders go on blundering,
The nation’s wealth keep plundering,
Crime and hunger are widespread.
We have the circuses, not the bread !
A Traveler’s Tale
On a long desolate track
Where once giants trod their gallant ways,
A traveler lumbers along, searching for what they sought
But, resting awhile with bones exhausted and spirit fading!
Beholding the forbidding landscape dotted with walking skeletons
Of honesty and honor;
Clothed in rags of manners and etiquette;
Whence they come wither they go-
A query, a generation-long, begging fulfillment;
Under a tree with foliage, rich and green’
Whose roots nourished by sages of yesteryears
With claims to ancestry to founders of the land, the race and the faith;
Ordinary men with youthful gaze and language flowery of vernacular origin,
A preacher, this one, number one
Garbed in white with shawl of matching color
Preaching to the converts;
For they too know not the meanings hidden behind
A facade of anecdotes and innuendos;
False and shallow,
With reference constant to Buddha, Christ, Mohamed
And authors of the Veda,
Desecrating the pure and sincere teachings;
Soiling the message whose weight may burden ordinary men.
Listeners nod in ascent;
Not that they grasp, but if they don’t nod
Fault would be theirs and not the preacher’s,
What a farce? What laughable stuff?
Yet they cheer, they approve and they applaud.
The preacher’s sermon approaches to an end abrupt,
For a party that followed another preacher
Under another tree
Descended unto this one
They were tired and skeptical of their preacher’s apathy and demeanor spiritless,
They know not when they would be delivered,
Rewards await at this tree, abundant with fruits, sweet and sugary;
And they settle down with hope and awe.
Preacher number two still preaching,
And the traveler heads on there,
Befriends a man middle-aged and inquires:
We in fact had double the number of number one
But in the last decade and half
They kept deserting
For bluer seas!
Oh! What occurred, we don’t know
The flock reducing yearly, monthly, now daily, more or less;
No wonder they move,
‘Cause our preacher has no glory, no love-except for his own tribe-no charisma,
Some young man, showing promise may lead us one day
To that distant goal,
Traveler tells the man: don’t give up, don’t ever give up!
Harder the road, bitterer the journey,
Sweeter what you reap!
O’ traveler, the voyage you began
Tiring and timeless;
Abounding in peaks and valleys,
Very little time to rest.
O’ traveler, your shoulders are stooped
With ages of baggage,
With ravages of misery and bereavement;
From morning dew until twilight’s last rays
Under the scorching sun
Sometimes veiled in clouds
You rest your weary feet and
Feed your starving tummy;
Quenching a parched tongue;
But your sartorial exterior prim and proper,
Groomed in style, with a countenance shaven clean,
And graying hair at intervals uneven,
You prod on and on
Until you die, for you are not seeking a station,
But enjoying the ride, O’ traveler, for ever and ever.
By Lakshman Indranath Keerthisinghe
The Land of the Rising Sun,
Where Cherry Blossoms and Sakura Flowers bloom,
Where the Benevolent Emperor reigns,
With its smiling and bowing people
Where Sushi is eaten and Sake is drunk,
Where the lovely Geishas waving flowery fans sing and dance,
And pretty girls in kimonos cycle to work,
Where Hiroshima was bombed and Volcanoes erupt
Where the Tsunami dashed in waves upon waves,
But the courageous people stood up and endured,
Brought up their country with love and care,
Blessed is Japan the beautiful country and our friends the lovely Japanese
Heavy rains remind us of challenges in life.
Never ask for a lighter rain.
Just pray for a better umbrella.
That is attitude.
When flood comes, fish eat ants & when flood recedes, ants eat fish. Only time matters.
Just hold on, God gives opportunity to everyone!
Life is not about finding the right person, but creating the right relationship,
it’s not how we care in the beginning, but how much we care till the very end.
Some people always throw stones in your path. It depends on you what you make with them.
A Wall or a Bridge? Remember you are the architect of your life.
Search for a beautiful heart, but don’t search for a beautiful face’
coz beautiful things are not always good, but good things are always beautiful.
It’s not important to hold all the good cards in life.
but it’s important how well you play with the cards you hold.
Often when we lose all hope & think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, `relax dear it’s just a bend, not the end.
Have Faith and have a successful life.
One of the basic differences between God and humans is, God gives, gives and forgives.
but the human gets, gets, gets and forgets.
Be thankful in life….
MOTHER – Love me now
The time is now
If you are ever going to love
Love me now while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow
Love me now while I am living
Do not wait until I am gone
And then have it chiselled in marble
Sweet words on ice-cold stone
If you have tender thoughts of me
Please let me know now
If you wait until I am sleeping
There will be death between us
And I will not hear you then
So if you love me, even a little bit
Let me know while I am living
So that I can treasure it
Now she is gone and I am sick with guilt
Because I never told her what she meant to me.
Worse yet, I did not treat her as she deserved to be treated.
I found time for everyone and everything else
But I never made time for her.
It would have been easy to drop in for a cup of tea
And a hug but my friends came first.
Would any of them have done for me what my mother did,
I know the answer.
When I called mom on the phone,
I was always in a hurry.
I feel ashamed when I think of the times I cut her off ,
The times I retorted, The times I glared at her in an angry mood
when she wanted to correct me and guide me through the correct path.
I remember too, the times I could have included her in a trip out and did not.
Our children loved Grandma from the times they were babies.
They often turn to her for comfort and advice.
She understood them.
I realise now that I was too critical,
Too short-tempered, too stingy with praise.
Grandma gave them unconditional love.
The world is filled with sons, daughters and a child like me.
I hope they see themselves in this letter and realise from it.
Footprints In The Sands
by Father Derrick Mendis SJ.
A poem written by a Roman Catholic Priest Scholar.
Politics in Lanka is a dirty game
Sans sense of honesty, honour or shame.
On election-campaigns that squander millions,
When in power, make illicit billions.
Full of corruption, nepotism, crime,
They leave no footprints in the sands of time,
Self-seeking, self-serving, power-drunk quacks,
Cover up their crab-like, crooked tracks.
Parliament’s pack of jokers, jerks,
Abuse their power for self and perks,
Goons and buffoons, men of straw,
Brazenly bend and break the law.
They promise us the sun and the moon.
Pledges broken or forgotten soon,
Barefaced, through their teeth they lie,
On hollow words can we rely?
They flagrantly flout every rule in the book,
To come into power by hook or by crook,
From one party to another they jump,
Kiss President’s feet and lick his rump.
In sumptuous luxury they wine and dine,
Make ample hay while sun doth shine.
Of life’s best things they have their fill,
The taxpayers have to foot the bill.
They trot the globe and have a ball,
In five-star hotel, shopping mall,
Lavishly splurge like duke or count,
On bankrupt Lanka’s state account.
Their life is sweet, a bed of roses,
Gobbling Lanka’s scarce resources,
Our so-called rulers, leading lights,
Are a bunch of social parasites.
Their hands are soiled, palms well greased,
Our people, rich and poor are fleeced,
Most of them to the core are rotten,
They flaunt and flash their wealth ill-gotten.
How could these robbers ever dare
Their numerous assets to declare?
An auditor’s test they will not pass,
Many would end up behind bars.
Crime and corruption they cannot battle,
In their own cupboards many skeletons rattle.
A sincere statesman I fail to see
Among Sri Lanka’s powers-that-be.
Idolized heroes of yesterday,
Made traitors, villains of today..
Free-media muzzled, my country’s bane.
Journalists, editors attacked and slain.
Many politicians are vermin, pests,
Who earn fast-bucks and feather their nests,
They leave no footprints in the sands of time,
But craftily cover up their tracks of crime.
FIVE LESSONS ABOUT THE WAY WE TREAT PEOPLE
1 – First Important Lesson – Cleaning Lady
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?
I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
“Absolutely,” said the professor, “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, ‘Hello.’ “
I’ve never forgotten that lesson… I also learned her name was Dorothy.
2 – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read, “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away… God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”
Mrs. Nat King Cole
3 – Third Important Lesson – Always remember those who serve.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.
“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.
“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient..
“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.
When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.
You see, he couldn’t have the sundae because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.
4 – Fourth Important Lesson. – The Obstacle in Our Path.
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.
Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person removing the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!
Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts…
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.
I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks.
Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
Live with no regrets
Treat people the way you want to be treated
Work like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ve never been
Dance like you do when nobody’s watching.
A drunk man in an Oldsmobile
They said had run the light
That caused the six-car pileup
On 109 that night.
When broken bodies lay about
And blood was everywhere,
The sirens screamed out eulogies,
For death was in the air..
A mother, trapped inside her car,
Was heard above the noise;
Her plaintive plea near split the air:
Oh, God, please spare my boys!
She fought to loose her pinned hands;
She struggled to get free,
But mangled metal held her fast
In grim captivity.
Her frightened eyes then focused
On where the back seat once had been,
But all she saw was broken glass and
Two children’s seats crushed in..
Her twins were nowhere to be seen;
She did not hear them cry,
And then she prayed they’d been thrown free,
Oh, God, don’t let them die!
Then firemen came and cut her loose,
But when they searched the back,
They found therein no little boys,
But the seat belts were intact.
They thought the woman had gone mad
And was traveling alone,
But when they turned to question her,
They discovered she was gone.
Policemen saw her running wild
And screaming above the noise
In beseeching supplication,
Please help me find my boys!
They’re four years old and wear blue shirts;
Their jeans are blue to match.
One cop spoke up, They’re in my car,
And they don’t have a scratch.
They said their daddy put them there
And gave them each a cone,
Then told them both to wait for Mom
To come and take them home..
I’ve searched the area high and low,
But I can’t find their dad..
He must have fled the scene,
I guess, and that is very bad.
The mother hugged the twins and said,
While wiping at a tear,
He could not flee the scene, you see,
For he’s been dead a year.
The cop just looked confused and asked,
Now, how can that be true?
The boys said, Mommy, Daddy came
And left a kiss for you.
He told us not to worry
And that you would be all right,
And then he put us in this car with
The pretty, flashing light.
We wanted him to stay with us,
Because we miss him so,
But Mommy, he just hugged us tight
And said he had to go.
He said someday we’d understand
And told us not to fuss,
And he said to tell you, Mommy,
He’s watching over us.
The mother knew without a doubt
That what they spoke was true,
For she recalled their dad’s last words,
I will watch over you.
The firemen’s notes could not explain
The twisted, mangled car,
And how the three of them escaped
Without a single scar.
But on the cop’s report was scribed,
In print so very fine,
An angel walked the beat tonight on Highway 109.
He who has a thousand friends has not a friend
This morning when the Lord opened a window to
He saw me, and he asked: ‘My child, what is your
greatest wish for today?’
I responded: ‘Lord please, take care of the
person who is reading this message, their family and their special friends.
They deserve it and I love them very much. ‘
Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen…
Go not to temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down trodden…
Go not to temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you…