“Of Bread and Hunger”

by D. G. Vachal 2
The days ride the chariot of the whirlwind:
tomorrow’s sun is yet to be appointed —
you hold this moment’s gold, this second’s gem.

Today is bread that feeds your hunger,
strength for constricted hands
that throb to open to those in need,
(always, there are those in need)
bestow kindness even to those unkind.

Give, give of this bread,
this bread of today,
each broken crumb of every fleeting second,
scatter with abandon to reach
the hungry mouths,
even the birds of the air,
the beasts of the field —

As you give of your daily bread,
verily you will be fed.

D. G. Vachal © 2014

“The Old Paths, The Good Way”

The Old Paths, The Good Way

When we are in a state of great distress and perplexity, it is difficult to determine what action to take when there are many different paths to choose from. Thousands of years ago, the kingdom of Judah was in such a state, finding itself at a crossroad, facing peril and destruction which could only be averted by wise and prompt action.

Out of the clamor of counseling voices came the word of the Prophet Jeremiah:  “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.”1

Let us consider the Prophet’s instruction:

First, stand in the ways and see.  This means deliberation.  When at a dilemma, it is not the time to rush into action which may result in choosing the wrong path.  A crisis, a turning point is the time for prudence and forethought.

Second, ask for the old paths, what is the good way.  This means guidance. Let history serve as a guide:  the nation of Judah had won victory and experienced peace and prosperity in former times; therefore, inquire of the past how these blessings were attained.  Search for the trodden road that led to safety and happiness.

Third, walk therein. This means action.  After deliberation and having discerned the guiding light, proceed ahead upon the chosen path. In doing so, Jeremiah told  the people of Judah, you will find rest for your souls.

Almost five centuries later, Jesus Christ addressed, not a nation, but individual men and women:  the weary and heavy-laden, and once again he mentioned the concept of soul-rest in the same manner as the Prophet Jeremiah :

 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.2

Christ’s prescription for finding rest for one’s soul is to come to Him, to choose the path that leads to Him, proclaiming that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  A new and a living way, but yet the most ancient of pathways— a pathway that leads to the Rock of Ages.

1  Jeremiah 6:11, King James Version
2  Matthew 11:28-29, New King James Version

*** Reference: Henry Van Dyke, 1903, “Joy and Power”, http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/3/9/10395, pp.72-92
*** Photography by Rovakovski

“The Precious Possession”

7 dimineata

“A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” Proverbs 12:27,  NASB

There is a certain possession that the Bible esteems as valuable, something to be desired.  It is not a material treasure; it cannot be bought with worldly currency.  That precious possession is diligence.

The best way I can expound upon this scripture is to share how I have witnessed this trait in the way my parents lived. To this day, they continue to amaze me beyond words.   I don’t ever remember seeing them idle or wasting time.   When I was growing up, I recall both of them going to work early in the morning each day.   As both of them are lawyers, they had plenty of things to occupy them, but they somehow managed to come home and eat three meals with their children almost every day.

When my father was home, I remember that he would either be reading or writing.  My mother incessantly tended to projects that she would follow through to completion.  They were compassionate people, reaching out to help the poor and underprivileged.  I remember many times when we children would have to sit squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder at the dinner table because some poor folks were invited to dine with us.

My father is now in his eighties, but he still goes to work every day:  he serves the people as the oldest member of Congress in an Asian country.  Surrounded with books and so many documents to read and review,  he always carries a pen,  a small pad of paper, or a book to read.  My mother is in her late seventies, and yes, she also works at her office each day.  A long time ago, when I was a little child, she started a cooperative to help and encourage poor people to save their money and to free them from the grasp of greedy usurers.  What she set into motion decades ago has now grown by leaps and bounds — from a small group of less than 20 people, and now currently reaching almost a hundred thousand members.

Diligence involves perseverance, persistence, and tenacity.  It is not achieved overnight, but grows through the days and through the years as it is applied.  It is honoring one’s Creator with making the best use of one’s time and talents, and like the cooperative that my mother once started, through daily application, grows exponentially in value.  Diligence eventually becomes a person’s precious possession where moths cannot corrupt, nor can thieves break through and steal.


“Rock, Sand, and Storms”

Rock, Sand, and Storms

Oftentimes what lies beneath is fundamental, for it determines the final outcome of the visible structure standing on top of  it.  I think of the roots that support the life of plants and trees; I think of the foundation that undergirds the construction of houses and buildings.

Jesus tells a story of two men who built two houses, one upon the rock, and the other upon the sand. One man was wise, the other was foolish. If the teaching we draw from this story is that the difference between these two men and two houses is revealed when the storms of trials come, the lesson would have little value, for it would have been too late to do anything about it.

But Christ’s purpose in telling the story is to enable us to detect the fundamental differences between two principles of living, so that we may be able to safeguard ourselves against the consequences of a false grounding, while there is still time. Hence, the decisions and actions enacted at the very beginning are crucial to eventual outcomes.  It is said that at the outset, the wise man dug deep before building his house, whereas the foolish man did not take the trouble to lay a foundation.

Let us consider the particular outlook of the man who built his house upon the sand:  (1)

First, he was impatient, in a hurry, compelled to take short cuts to achieve quick results.

Second, because he was impatient, he did not take time to listen to instruction, in this case, to the principles involved in constructing a house. He considered it unnecessary, and deemed his ideas better than established methods.

Third, he possessed a mentality of not thinking things through, of not considering possibilities and eventualities.  He wanted a beautiful house in a particular location, and put it up quickly on the sand, without considering the environmental hazards that could topple the house down.

Indeed when the winds and the rains and the floods came, the house built upon the rock stood firm, but the house upon the sand fell, and great was its fall.

Note that this story does not stand by itself:  it is sobering to recognize that Christ relates it to how people handle his teachings.  A house can be thought of as one’s life structure, and all of its related external outgrowths.  Christ claims that putting his teachings into practice is like digging deep and building a sure foundation to enable us to withstand the storms of life.

And Christ likens one who simply hears his words and does not do them, to the man who built his house upon the sand, with a stern prediction of a great fall, when the storms of life arrive.

Scripture Reference:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24-27, New King James Version

***(1) Reference on the characteristics of the foolish man:  Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Connecticut, Martino Publishing, 2011, pp. 298-299

***Photography by Dmitri Moronov

“Porcelain Morning”

Porcelain Morning

Kinder still the porcelain morning:
kaolin clay
baked in the kiln of the evening
sun,   cleansed
of the dross of darkness,
translucent resonance,

Pink peonies await
and the glossy leaves —
choose your colors,
with care.

by D. G. Vachal © 2013

*** image by TTor