Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 9, 2014

There was a man who went out in the dark night to borrow live coals to kindle a fire. He went from hut to hut and knocked. “Dear friends, help me!” said he. “My wife has just given birth to a child, and I must make a fire to warm her and the little one.”

But it was way in the night, and all the people were asleep. No one replied.

The man walked and walked. At last he saw the gleam of a fire a long way off. Then he went in that direction and saw that the fire was burning in the open. A lot of sheep were were sleeping around the fire, and an old shepherd sat and watched over the flock.

When the man who wanted to borrow fire came up to the sheep, he saw that three big dogs lay asleep at the shepherd’s feet. All three awoke when the man approached and opened their great jaws, as though they wanted to bark; but not a sound was heard. The man noticed that the hair on their backs stood up and that their sharp, white teeth glistened in the firelight. They dashed toward him.

He felt that one of them bit at his leg and one at this hand and that one clung to this throat. But their jaws and teeth wouldn’t obey them, and the man didn’t suffer the least harm.

Now the man wished to go farther, to get what he needed. But the sheep lay back to back and so close to one another that he couldn’t pass them. Then the man stepped upon their backs and walked over them and up to the fire. And not one of the animals awoke or moved.

When the man had almost reached the fire, the shepherd looked up. He was a surly old man, who was unfriendly and harsh toward human beings. And when he saw the strange man coming, he seized the long, spiked staff, which he always held in his hand when he tended his flock, and threw it at him. The staff came right toward the man, but, before it reached him, it turned off to one side and whizzed past him, far out in the meadow.

Now the man came up to the shepherd and said to him: “Good man, help me, and lend me a little fire! My wife has just given birth to a child, and I must make a fire to warm her and the little one.”

The shepherd would rather have said no, but when he pondered that the dogs couldn’t hurt the man, and the sheep had not run from him, and that the staff had not wished to strike him, he was a little afraid, and dared not deny the man that which he asked.

“Take as much as you need!” he said to the man.

But then the fire was nearly burnt out. There were no logs or branches left, only a big heap of live coals, and the stranger had neither spade nor shovel wherein he could carry the red-hot coals.

When the shepherd saw this, he said again: “Take as much as you need!” And he was glad that the man wouldn’t be able to take away any coals.

But the man stopped and picked coals from the ashes with his bare hands, and laid them in his mantle. And he didn’t burn his hands when he touched them, nor did the coals scorch his mantle; but he carried them away as if they had been nuts or apples.

And when the shepherd, who was such a cruel and hardhearted man, saw all this, he began to wonder to himself. What kind of a night is this, when the dogs do not bite, the sheep are not scared, the staff does not kill, or the fire scorch? He called the stranger back and said to him: “What kind of a night is this? And how does it happen that all things show you compassion?”

Then said the man: “I cannot tell you if you yourself do not see it.” And he wished to go his way, that he might soon make a fire and warm his wife and child.

But the shepherd did not wish to lose sight of the man before he had found out what all this might portend. He got up and followed the man till they came to the place where he lived.

Then the shepherd saw the man didn’t have so much as a hut to dwell in, but that his wife and babe were lying in a mountain grotto, where there was nothing except the cold and naked stone walls.

But the shepherd thought that perhaps the poor innocent child might freeze to death there in the grotto; and, although he was a hard man, he was touched, and thought he would like to help it. And he loosened the knapsack from his shoulder, took from it a soft white sheepskin, gave it to the strange man, and said that he should let the child sleep on it.

But just as soon as he showed that he, too, could be merciful, his eyes were opened, and he saw what he had not been able to see before, and heard what he could not have heard before.

He saw that all around him stood a ring of little silver-winged angels, and each held a stringed instrument, and all sang in loud tones that tonight the Saviour was born who should redeem the world from its sins.

Then he understood how all things were so happy this night that they didn’t want to do anything wrong.

And it was not only around the shepherd that there were angels, but he saw them everywhere. They sat inside the grotto, they sat outside on the mountain, and they flew under the heavens. They came marching in great companies, and, as they passed, they paused and cast a glance at the child.

There was such jubilation and such gladness and songs and play! And all this he saw in the dark night whereas before he could not have made out anything. He was so happy because his eyes had been opened that he fell upon his knees and thanked God.

What that shepherd saw, we might also see, for the angels fly down from heaven every Christmas Eve, if we could only see them.

You must remember this, for it is as true, as true as that I see you and you see me. It is not revealed by the light of lamps or candles, and it does not depend upon sun and moon; but that which is needful is that we have such eyes as can see God’s glory.

By Selma Lagerlof
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 8, 2008

It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over.  Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

Old Papa Panov, the village shoemaker, stepped outside his shop to take one last look around.  The sounds of happiness, the bright lights and the faint but delicious smells of Christmas cooking reminded him of past Christmas times when his wife had still been alive and his own children little.  Now they had gone.  His usually cheerful face, with the little laughter wrinkles behind the round steel spectacles, looked sad now.  But he went back indoors with a firm step, put up the shutters and set a pot of coffee to heat on the charcoal stove. Then, with a sigh, he settled in his big armchair.

Papa Panov did not often read, but tonight he pulled down the big old family Bible and, slowly tracing the lines with one forefinger, he read again the Christmas story.  He read how Mary and Joseph, tired by their journey to Bethlehem, found no room for them at the inn, so that Mary’s little baby was born in the cowshed.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear!” exclaimed Papa Panov, “if only they had come here! I would have given them my bed and I could have covered the baby with my patchwork quilt to keep him warm.”

He read on about the wise men who had come to see the baby Jesus, bringing him splendid gifts.  Papa Panov’s face fell.  “I have no gift that I could give him,” he thought sadly.

Then his face brightened.  He put down the Bible, got up and stretched his long arms t the shelf high up in his little room.  He took down a small, dusty box and opened it.  Inside was a perfect pair of tiny leather shoes.  Papa Panov smiled with satisfaction.  Yes, they were as good as he had remembered- the best shoes he had ever made.  “I should give him those,” he decided, as he gently put them away and sat down again.

He was feeling tired now, and the further he read the sleeper he became.  The print began to dance before his eyes so that he closed them, just for a minute.   In no time at all Papa Panov was fast asleep.

And as he slept he dreamed.  He dreamed that someone was in his room and he know at once, as one does in dreams, who the person was.  It was Jesus.

“You have been wishing that you could see me, Papa Panov.” he said kindly, “then look for me tomorrow.  It will be Christmas Day and I will visit you.  But look carefully, for I shall not tell you who I am.”

When at last Papa Panov awoke, the bells were ringing out and a thin light was filtering through the shutters.  “Bless my soul!” said Papa Panov.  “It’s Christmas Day!”

He stood up and stretched himself for he was rather stiff.  Then his face filled with happiness as he remembered his dream.  This would be a very special Christmas after all, for Jesus was coming to visit him.  How would he look?  Would he be a little baby, as at that first Christmas?  Would he be a grown man, a carpenter- or the great King that he is, God’s Son?  He must watch carefully the whole day through so that he recognized him however he came.

Papa Panov put on a special pot of coffee for his Christmas breakfast, took down the shutters and looked out of the window.  The street was deserted, no one was stirring yet.  No one except the road sweeper.  He looked as miserable and dirty as ever, and well he might!  Whoever wanted to work on Christmas Day – and in the raw cold and bitter freezing mist of such a morning?

Papa Panov opened the shop door, letting in a thin stream of cold air.  “Come in!” he shouted across the street cheerily.  “Come in and have some hot coffee to keep out the cold!”

The sweeper looked up, scarcely able to believe his ears.  He was only too glad to put down his broom and come into the warm room. His old clothes steamed gently in the heat of the stove and he clasped both red hands round the comforting warm mug as he drank.

Papa Panov watched him with satisfaction, but every now and them his eyes strayed to the window.  It would never do to miss his special visitor.

“Expecting someone?”  the sweeper asked at last.  So Papa Panov told him about his dream.

“Well, I hope he comes,” the sweeper said, “you’ve given me a bit of Christmas cheer I never expected to have.   I’d say you deserve to have your dream come true.”  And he actually smiled.

When he had gone, Papa Panov put on cabbage soup for his dinner, then went to the door again, scanning the street.  He saw no one.  But he was mistaken.  Someone was coming.

The girl walked so slowly and quietly, hugging the walls of shops and houses, that it was a while before he noticed her.  She looked very tired and she was carrying something.  As she drew nearer he could see that it was a baby, wrapped in a thin shawl.  There was such sadness in her face and in the pinched little face of the baby, that Papa Panov’s heart went out to them.

“Won’t you come in,” he called, stepping outside to meet them.  “You both need a warm by the fire and a rest.”

The young mother let him shepherd her indoors and to the comfort of the armchair.  She gave a big sigh of relief.

“I’ll warm some milk for the baby,” Papa Panov said, “I’ve had children of my own- I can feed her for you.”  He took the milk from the stove and carefully fed the baby from a spoon, warming her tiny feet by the stove at the same time.

“She needs shoes,” the cobbler said.

But the girl replied, “I can’t afford shoes, I’ve got no husband to bring home money.  I’m on my way to the next village to get work.”

Sudden thought flashed through Papa Panov’s mind.  He remembered the little shoes he had looked at last night.  But he had been keeping those for Jesus.  He looked again at the cold little feet and made up his mind.

“Try these on her,” he said, handing the baby and the shoes to the mother.  The beautiful little shoes were a perfect fit.   The girl smiled happily and the baby gurgled with pleasure.

“You have been so kind to us,” the girl said, when she got up with her baby to go.  “May all your Christmas wishes come true!”

But Papa Panov was beginning to wonder if his very special Christmas wish would come true.  Perhaps he had missed his visitor?  He looked anxiously up and down the street.  There were plenty of people about but they were all faces that he recognized.  There were neighbors going to call on their families.  They nodded and smiled and wished him Happy Christmas!  Or beggars- and Papa Panov hurried indoors to fetch them hot soup and a generous hunk of bread, hurrying out again in case he missed the Important Stranger.

All too soon the winter dusk fell.  When Papa Panov next went to the door and strained his eyes, he could no longer make out the passers-by.  most were home and indoors by now anyway.  He walked slowly back into his room at last, put up the shutters, and sat down wearily in his armchair.

So it had been just a dream after all.  Jesus had not come.

Then all at once he knew that he was no longer alone in the room.

This was not dream for he was wide awake.  At first he seemed to see before his eyes the long stream of people who had come to him that day.  He saw again the old road sweeper, the young mother and her baby and the beggars he had fed.  As they passed, each whispered, “Didn’t you see me, Papa Panov?”

“Who are you?” he called out, bewildered.

Then another voice answered him.  It was the voice from his dream- the voice of Jesus.

“I was hungry and you fed me,” he said.  “I was naked and you clothed me.  I was cold and you warmed me.  I came to you today in everyone of those you helped and welcomed.”

Then all was quiet and still.  Only the sound of the big clock ticking.  A great peace and happiness seemed to fill the room, overflowing Papa Panov’s heart until he wanted to burst out singing and laughing and dancing with joy.

“So he did come after all!” was all that he said.

 

By - Leo Tolstoy
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 5, 2014

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure has turned about,
When they might have won had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow!
Often the goal is nearer than It seems to a faint and faltering one,
Often the struggler has given up
When they might have captured the victor’s cup.
And they learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close they were to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint to the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the task when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem the worst, that you must not quit!

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 4, 2014

I recently chose a new primary care physician. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing ‘fairly well’ for my age. A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking him, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

He asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco or drink alcoholic beverages?’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I don’t do drugs, either. ‘

Then he asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’

I said, ‘No, my other doctor said that all red meat is unhealthy’

Do you go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City?

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, fishing or relaxing on the beach?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said. He asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’

‘No,’ I said. ‘I don’t do any of those things.’

Then he looked at me and asked, ‘Then why do you care?

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 3, 2013

It takes a disciplined spirit to endure the monastery on Mount Serat in Spain. One of the fundamental requirements of this religious order is that the young men must maintain silence. Opportunities to speak are scheduled once every two years, at which time they are allowed to speak only two words.

One young initiate in this religious order, who had completed his first two years of training, was invited by his superior to make his first two-word presentation. “Food terrible,” he said. Two years later the invitation was once again extended. The young man used this forum to exclaim, “Bed lumpy.” Arriving at his superior’s office two years later he proclaimed, “I quit.” The superior looked at this young monk and said, “You know, it doesn’t surprise me a bit. All you’ve done since you arrived is complain, complain, complain.

Exaggerated? Maybe. What if you were asked to share two words that describe your Life? would your focus be the lumps, bumps, and unfairness, or are you committed to dwell on those things that are good, right, and lovely?

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 2, 1992

One of the holiday’s best-loved songs, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” marks the longest holiday in the Christian calendar — the time between Christmas Day and Epiphany, celebrated on January six.

The song’s origin is unknown, but some believe the song was written to help Catholic children remember various articles of faith. These are:

True love
God

A partridge in a pear tree
Jesus

Two turtle doves
Old and New Testaments

Three French hens
Faith, Hope, and Charity

Four calling birds
Four Gospels

Five golden rings
The first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, which records the history and laws of ancient Israel

Six geese a-laying
Six days of Creation

Seven swans a-swimming
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Seven Sacraments

Eight maids a-milking
Eight beatitudes

Nine ladies dancing
Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten lords a-leaping
Ten Commandments

Eleven pipers piping
Eleven faithful disciples

Twelve drummers drumming
Twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed

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Vintage Dilbert November 12, 2012

Vintage Dilbert
November 12, 2012

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I’d limber up.

I would be sillier than I’ve been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously, take more chances, take more trips.

I’d climb more mountains, and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who lived seriously, sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than this trip.

If I had my life to live over, I would start going barefoot earlier in the spring, and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances, I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

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