Daily Thoughts

Waste Not Want Not

Have you ever heard the saying 'Waste Not Want Not' ? 

I'm sure you have. It sort of rolls off the tongue doesn't it?

And in these days when we're encouraged to try to do our best to save the resources of our planet, the emphasis on conservation, recycling, and on 're-using' and 're-purposing' - it's a phrase that is very 'current'. Or at least, it should be!

This won't be the only time I talk to you about 're-using'. It's something I love to do, especially when I'm sewing and crafting, using up old material, ribbons gathered from all sorts of places, cards, pictures, papers. I'm also a person who loves to visit charity/thrift shops to find stuff that other people have discarded, and to give them a new life.

But that's a tale for another time.

Back to that phrase - 'Waste Not Want Not'.

What does it actually mean?

Well, it's really saying ... if you don't waste anything, you will always have enough. If you don't squander your money and resources, you will never be in want. If you use a commodity or resources carefully, you will never be in need.

In other words - there's always enough to go around. We just need to stop wasting stuff! 

I love that!

But although it's a phrase perfectly suited to today, did you know that it's an idiom that has been around since the end of the 18th century?

It's reckoned one of the first references was in a book called 'The Parent's Assistant' which was the first collection of children's stories by a writer called Maria Edgeworth, and it was published in 1796.

Maria was English/Irish and a prolific writer of children's and adult literature.  She had strong views on politics, education and estate management and she wrote on these matters, as well as creating stories. And apparently Maria was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe.

Queen Victoria was a fan. She was reading The Parent's Assistant in 1837, just three months before her coronation. In her diary she recalled reading "The Birthday Present" in "Miss Edgeworth's inimitable and delightful Parent's Assistant" while doing her hair.

Today's phrase is actually the title of one of her stories, entitled 'Waste Not, Want Not' (or 'Two Strings To Your Bow'). It's the story of two boys Hal and Benjamin, who are taken in by their Uncle. The motto is actually written over the chimney-piece, in the Uncle's big kitchen, and the narrative is mostly about how the boys learn the lessons of not wasting or squandering what they have, or are given.

Maria Edgeworth, in common with many early novelists, definitely wrote to teach as well as to inform and to entertain. Although it's not exactly the genre of storytelling that is popular these days, in their time these stories were very much in demand.

And the fact that Maria was highly regarded as a writer, at a time when educated females were often disapproved of, says much about the woman who more than 200 years ago first profiled a simple phrase which is even today calling us to action. 

Waste not, want not - Idioms by The Free Dictionary


A Friday Thought

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a summer person.

I like the sunshine. I feel energised in the warmth of the late spring and summer but in the winter months I sometimes struggle to motivate myself, especially first thing in the morning when it's still dark outside at about the time I have to rise for work.

But on THIS day of the week there is one thing that gets me going ... and that is knowing that tomorrow ... the weekend will be here!

Bit tongue in cheek, but here's a little poem I penned ...

 

FRIDAY MORNING

I woke today

As I usually do

About the time

My clock told me to

 

And though my heart

Was filled with dread

As I thought about

The day ahead

 

There was one thought

That made me smile

That gave me joy

For a little while

 

And what is it?  

Just one more day

Until it will be

SATURDAY!!!

 

Cathy Le Feuvre


The Gift of the Present Moment

So .. this One Day @ a Time blog is my attempt to do a thought for every day of the year. 

So far, I've managed it, but 21 days does not a year make!

As I hope people will enjoy and maybe even be inspired by a daily thought, reading, poem and more, I also want to share some of the readings and people who have inspired me on a day-to-day basis.

As a Christian, I find daily inspiration in reading scripture and prayers, but there are also other publications and people to whom I also turn from time to time. 

Have you ever heard of Marcus Aurelius?  He was a first century Roman Emperor but in his lifetime he also acquired a reputation for being a philosopher, in the Stoic tradition. His renown continued after his death and even some early Christians admired him not just as a philosophic but also as a philanthropic leader. 

Today he is still known, for some 'Meditations' that he authored. Marcus book cover 2

While on a war campaign (between 170 and 180AD), Marcus wrote his Meditations in Greek, firstly as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. Although it's not known how widely these writings were circulated during his own lifetime, they have been handed down the centuries and today they are still very popular. Just check out the internet ... there are loads of sites which include his sayings and epigrams.

Some I find difficult and even challenging, mostly because of the two thousand years or thereabouts between the authoring and my reading of them, and the contexts of the times Marcus and I were/are living through.

But some of his 'Meditations' are surprisingly 'modern' and completely up to date and perfect for the early 21st century. I bet Marcus didn't expect to be so relevant for so long when he scribbled his thoughts all those years ago!

Take this one from Book 8 of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

Marcus quote1 (2)

This could really have been written for today, couldn't it?

We know there are lots of people who are obsessed with leaving their mark on the world, and spend every living moment thinking about the future, trying to ensure people will remember them.

Being ambitious is not a bad thing, of course, but if it is all consuming and we are always reaching for the 'next thing' and believe that the grass is always greener in the next field, maybe this prevents us from just enjoying the life we have - right now.

Even back in the first century, Marcus Aurelius seems to have recognised this trait of human nature.

And his advice is as sound today as it was all those years ago.

'Give yourself a gift: the present moment'

Today I'm going to try to do that. Moment by moment. To appreciate what I have, not worry about the things I do not have. Not being concerned about what people might think of me, or say about me. 

Just to breathe in the joy of life. Right now! 

#


Inauguration Day

American  flagToday is Inauguration Day for the the new President of the United States of America.

Now I'm not going to get into the whys and wherefores of the last four years under the 45th President, or all the controversy that has followed the early November election, or recent events and developments in the place that has prided itself on its democratic history, processes and systems. Too many others have done that already.

But today, when Joseph Biden is sworn in as the 46th President at the Capitol Building  in Washington, D.C. he will follow in a long line of men (yes, only men so far) who have held an appointment which has given them immense power and authority. 

Sometimes it's controversial, and often exciting as the new incumbent of the White House solemnly raises his right hand, places his left hand on a Bible and, before the nation and the world, recites the Oath of Office of the President of the United States of America :-

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It's an important moment in the life of the nation, but sometimes it's more historic than others.

In January 2009, I awoke very early in a hotel room in Christchurch, New Zealand (where I was coming to the end of a fabulous five week Holiday Down Under), to watch the swearing in of President Barack Obama. - his first term of office.

It was 12noon on the 20th January in Washington DC.  For me sitting in my jimjams in New Zealand, it was already 6am on the 21st. But I was absolutely determined to be part of this historic moment  - the swearing in of the first ever African American president. What a day!

So, to mark this next much anticipated inauguration, and as I am a bit of a history nerd, I've been digging further into the history of the Inauguration and I've discovered that it hasn't always been on January 20th or even at the Capitol building in the USA capital.

The first inauguration, of George Washington, took place on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall in New York city. When he was sworn in, the city that now bears his name wasn't even built and Washington lived in New York and Philadelphia - both cities served as the American capital prior to the one we know today. In fact, it was while Washington was in office that he signed a bill which established a new, future, permanent capital city built along the Potomac River ... the place now named Washington, D.C. in his honour.


Surviving Celebrity

We live in a celebrity culture, there’s no doubt about that.

Reality TV stars, ‘influencers’ on social media, icons of fashion and music and self-proclaimed ‘experts’ in everything from keep fit and nutrition to commenting on other people’s lifestyles and television programmes. It seems we can’t move for ‘celebrities’ and, of course, through the media – TV, the online world and particularly social media – their fame spreads fast and wide. Although some reputations last down the years, invariably the fame and celebrity of many of those in the public eye doesn’t last that long - adoring fans are prone to move on to other ‘celebrity crushes’, seemingly on a whim.

But this ‘celebrity culture’ is not just a phenomenon of the 21st century.

Almost from the beginning of time, I would suggest, humans have wanted to have ‘celebrities’ in their lives. People they can look up to, people they can aspire to be, people who they can copy, people who they can ‘adore’, if you like. 

Of course, the reasons why individuals are favoured and admired change with the times and it's interesting to note that in the past many of the ‘celebrities’ were religious people – alive and dead!

Today is January 19th and in the church it’s the now little-known Feast of St Wulfstan.

Never heard of him ? No,  me neither.

But back in Anglo Saxon times he was HUGE!

And part of the reason for that is that he was a survivor!

If you know your English history, you’ll know that something big happened in 1066. The Normans under William the Conqueror invaded the country and took over. The Anglo Saxons were out. Many or most of the kings and leaders lost their lives, or at least their positions, lands and power. And that included the church men.

Ok – so that’s a very simplistic telling of history, but it’s the basic story.

But remember what I said about this chap Wulfstan? He was an ‘Anglo Saxon’ and, much against the odds, he survived the transition.

Wulfstan had been appointed Bishop of Worcester in England in 1062 so he was one of the leaders of the Anglo Saxon church at the time of the Norman conquest just four years later.

Very unusually, he was the only Anglo Saxon churchman to keep his position under the new regime and he continued to serve for another 30 years until his death, actually on Jan 20 1095.

The new King William himself had noted Wulfstan’s importance in his diocese and during his lifetime the Bishop was much admired especially within the church and by the new regime. At one point he even managed to help prevent an high level insurrection against William the  Conqueror.

Wulfstan was buried in Worcester Cathedral … one of his big projects was the rebuilding of the site, demolishing the old Anglo Saxon church and building the new Norman cathedral. But Wulfstan also help to re-build Hereford CathedralTewkesbury Abbey, and many other churches in the Worcester,  Hereford and Gloucester areas. 

And if you think Wulfstan was popular in his lifetime, that was nothing compared to his reputation once he was dead. People started reporting that when they visited his tomb, there were miraculous cures. And these supernatural and spiritual experiences led, in 1203, to his canonisation. He was made ‘Saint Wulfstan’

During the Middle Ages especially, Wulfstan was a very popular saint and King John, who ruled  from 1199 until his death in 1216, thought so much of him that he asked to be buried close to Wulfstan -  he was buried in Worcester Cathedral in front of the altar of St Wulfstan.

The saint's reputation persisted across the decades and in fact, he continued to be a popular saint for many centuries. Pilgrimages in his name to Worcester continued until the turn of the 18th century. HIS celebrity was far from fleeting!

These days few of us, especially outside the church, have heard of him, and his ‘Feast Day’ on January 19th every year is almost completely ignored today, apart from at Worcester.

Wulfstan was a lowly monk who rose through the ranks to the top job and managed to hang on, despite the cultural and political turmoil than came with the Norman Conquest.

His reputation survived strongly for at least 700 years, and … well I’m talking about him today … so he is still remembered. Perhaps it was because he was known for more than his personal achievements (like the rebuilding of Cathedrals) and it was his spiritual legacy that persisted.

Question – I wonder where the ‘celebrities’ of today will stand in the history of mankind? I wonder if those who today are applauded, and rewarded, for their antics on reality tv, their wealth, appearance and fashion sense, even those who are known for ‘helping’ the world through online ‘self-help’ videos, will be remembered even into the next decade? Let alone the next millennium?

I think I know the answer!

British Saints Days, 19th of January - St Wulfstans Day (information-britain.co.uk)

 


Blue Monday

Hello!

Welcome to 'Blue Monday'!

That is, apparently, what today is.

Traditionally, the third Monday in  January has been given this rather gloomy title because of a combination of things.

Post-Christmas blues, dark nights, perhaps the realisation that we've still got quite a few weeks of winter ahead, maybe the arrival of bills, including credit-card bills following an expensive festive period. And let's not forget the added pressure of the coronavirus pandemic this year.

I know, I know - all a load of old nonsense, right? Maybe. Who's to say being down in the dumps is especially pertinent today?

Of course, unfortunately for some people being 'blue' is not just for one day. It's much longer lasting. Some do suffer serious depression and it's not just about feeling 'down' for 24hours. I also know quite a number of people who are really affected by the time of year. Some experts call it 'SAD' - Seasonal Affective Disorder - and it can be really debilitating.

If you are feeling constantly sad and depressed, it's not a bad thing to get some help.

But if it's just today that is making you feel 'blue' then here's a little thought for you which might help you to smile through today, if you can!

It's a poem I came across in recent years. It does mention an 'epidemic' ... sorry about that ... hope no one is offended.

But it might help.

It's apparently attributed to the brilliant, funny, talented Spike Milligan, who himself experienced challenging mental health at times during his life.

 

A SMILE

Smiling is infectious

You catch it like the flu.

When someone smiled at me today

I started smiling too.

I walked around the corner

     And someone saw me grin.

When he smiled I realised

I'd passed it on to him.

I thought about the smile,

And realised its worth.

A single smile like mine

Could travel round the earth.

If you feel a smile begin

Don't leave it undetected.

Let's start an epidemic quick

And get the world infected!

(Spike Milligan)

Smiling flower


Changing the World!

It’s 17 January 1829 and in a place called Ashbourne in Derbyshire in England, a baby girl is coming into the world.

Her name is Catherine – Catherine Mumford – and little did her parents John and Sarah know, but their daughter would grow up to change the world.

I’m not understating that. Really!

And if you doubt me then I need to tell you one more thing. Catherine Mumford young

Catherine grew up to marry a man called William – William Booth – and together they would go on to found a Christian ‘movement’ that would eventually become The Salvation Army, the global church and charity organisation that today supports and cares for millions of people, many of them disadvantaged and unable to help themselves.

People with addictions, homeless men and women, children, people who don’t have enough food and who are ill, people who yearn for education, those who are seeking work, and those who are exploited including the victims of human trafficking or modern slavery. Today, The Salvation Army is in over 130 countries and responds to need wherever they find it. And although the history dates back more than 150 years they remain relevant. During this COVID-19 pandemic, local Salvation Army churches and other associated groups are working to help people in over 100 countries!

The Salvation Army makes a difference to people’s lives every day … and it is ultimately all down to William and Catherine Booth, who’s Christian faith, vision and inspiration started it all back in 1865.

I think Catherine was an incredible person. She grew up in a Methodist household but quickly developed her own Christian faith and although she was a sickly child, she apparently read the Bible voraciously and immersed herself in spiritual things from an early age. She wasn’t a healthy person all round, it’s thought among other things she suffered from a curvature of the spine. But in her spirit she was bold and brave, and determined in her Christian faith.

When she met William Booth, a fellow radical Methodist, in 1851 – it was almost love at first sight. He was a poor would-be evangelist who would struggle for years to find a place in a church. She supported him through difficult years, and after they married in July 1855, despite her ill health they went on to have eight children, all of whom survived into adulthood and who would all become part of their mission. Catherine was also a Christian evangelist and writer/theologian, and a sought after preacher in her own right, at a time when women preachers were not only rare but frowned upon by ‘polite society’.

Catherine Booth preaching

In fact, it was ‘polite society’ to whom Catherine often preached  - middle class and upper class ladies in particular.

And in 1865, after the family moved to London for one of HER preaching engagements, William finally found his purpose, preaching to the poor and uneducated, those who 'polite society' and established churches of the day often disregarded and even excluded. From this grew a mission to reach out and support those who could not look after themselves and who others considered unworthy.

Between them, William and Catherine Booth founded the (East London) Christian Mission and then in 1878 the name was changed to The Salvation Army, adopted uniforms and a military structure, and the mission really took off. Yes, it was and is still ultimately about preaching the Christian gospel, and 'saving lost souls' but it became more. What was the point of preaching to a person who was hungry - perhaps food might be a good idea?  The Salvation Army wasn't and isn't just about a 'hand out', helping people to survive their day, but also about a 'hand up', assisting people to help themselves, providing accommodation, skills, work and helping to rebuild their confidence. 

I know what you’re thinking – Cathy seems to know a lot about this woman and her husband and the movement they founded!

Well, I should. My first ever book – published in September 2013 – was a biography of the couple.

William and catherine book coverDrawing on letters which they exchanged from the time of their first meeting until Catherine’s death in 1890 from breast cancer, I learned so much about the duo, and how they came to create the worldwide Christian movement which today is their legacy.

Much of what The Salvation Army stands for today is down to Catherine, her interpretation of scripture and her personal and professional influence. The teetotal stance which The Salvation Army still holds to, the equality of the sexes in ministry – both men and women are ‘ordained’ and 'commissioned' to preach and lead - and even the work with victims of human trafficking which dates back to Catherine and other pioneering women from across society and church denominations to advocate for the raising of the age of consent and the protection of girls and women lured into the sex trade. This was just one of the campaigns for the betterment of poor people at a time when poverty blighted British society.

My book is called ‘William and Catherine – the love story of the founders of The Salvation Army, told through their letters’ (Monarch Books 2013)  Weird I know, but true! If you fancy reading all about them then I invite you to do so! The book is still available on many online platforms.

And I hope you will be as inspired as I am, not just by their joint passion for God and people but also by the life of Catherine – a complicated, strong Victorian who was truly a woman before her time!

When she died (or in Salvation army parlance, when she was 'Promoted to Glory'),  The Salvation Army was still  a rather peculiar notion to many who still did not understand it,  but it was gaining credibility.

The Methodist Recorder paid tribute to he as ‘the greatest Methodist woman of this generation’ (9 Oct 1890) and the Manchester Guardian newspaper wrote in its obituary ‘She has probably done more in her own person to establish the right of women to preach the gospel than anyone who has ever lived.’(18 Oct 1890)

All that - and The Salvation Army!

What a legacy!

Historic images from The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre

The Salvation Army UK

William and Catherine - the love story of the founders of The Salvation Army, told through their letters - on Amazon


Blessed are the Peacemakers



We live in a tumultuous world, don’t we?

Even as we’ve entered this new year, and so lately have been wishing each other ‘Peace and Goodwill’, we only have to switch on the news to see so much that is not peaceful. PEACE

In homes, it stands to reason and human nature, that there are bound to be arguments even today over trivialities, siblings bickering, relationships disintegrating. Between friends there are quarrels over meaningless nothings, petty jealousies.

Nationally, politics is often an excuse for perceived contrary views on just about every issue. Media's job is to tell us what is happening in the world but some outlets do unfortunately feed on divisions, like vultures over a decaying corpse on the savannah, making what might have been inconsequential disagreements into bigger disputes. 

Riots, insurgency, unruly behaviour - that's just the start of it. On an international scale we face some of the least peaceful times in the history of the world, with terror and fear being fed by megalomania and warped interpretation of religion.

We're living through a global pandemic, and that's certainly not peaceful. It's a source not just for community effort, but also for division as people have varying opinions on where the virus came from, how bad it is, and the efforts being taken to keep the world as safe as it can be. I do believe the majority of people do understand the seriousness of what the world is facing and are working hard to keep ourselves and loved ones and others healthy. Staying isolated, wearing masks and keeping our distance. There are some, I'm sorry to say, who have contrary views resulting in behaviour which others feel put us all at risk. It's a source of discontent, there's no doubt about that. 

And let's not forget social media, which in my experience can be such a power for good, but invariably is also an opportunity for people to express hateful ideas, and a chance for people to vehemently express their opinion in the strongest possible language. And often being the source of further division where they might not have been disagreement before.

Yet in the midst of all this there will be those who strive for peace, however hopeless it may seem. These are the people who dream of a world where people, although different, coming from different perspectives and even with different beliefs and opinions, can learn to live in harmony.

On this day, in 1920, a group of men sat down in Paris as part of the first ever Council Assembly of the League of Nations, an organization born out of the horror of the Great War of 1914 to 1918, a congregation of people, and countries, who wished to ensure that the world would never again be embroiled in global conflict. The League had been officially founded just the week before on January 10 1920, but this was the culmination of years of negotiations, primarily between the allies who had won what is now known as the First World War. The first full meeting of The Assembly of the League of Nations wouldn't happen until November 1920 but today in that year was a significant moment in the march towards anticipated peace.

Of course, in hindsight, we know that aim was thwarted. There would be another world war in 1939 and plenty more wars and conflicts to follows.

And today, although it's certainly not perfect, the United Nations, which grew out of that League of Nations after the Second World War, still works to find ways of bringing peoples together and trying to ensure that peace which I think, I hope, we all crave. Among other things, UN agencies exist to help people out of poverty and ensure good health and education, often some of the causes of conflict. 

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to his world, and to ours.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ (Matthew 5:9) he said.

Not all of us can be part of an international summit on peace. We can’t all sit in a parliament or be part of an advocacy group encouraging people to see the things on which they can agree rather than always to be looking for the negative in others’ policies.

But we can be ‘peacemakers’ where we are. In our families, in our communities, in our churches, at work and in the world where we might have some influence. In our relationships, in our behaviour and in our conversations in person and even virtually via social media. 

So, today, I don't know about you, but I want to be one of those ‘peacemakers’ which Jesus so highly regards.

It might start small, but who knows where it could lead, if we all give it a go.

http://www.onthisday.com/day/january/16


I arise today

I've been wittering on a bit over the last few days, so today I just bring you a prayer.

I love the Celtic Christian tradition and this won't be the last time I bring you a prayer or blessing from this heritage.

Today here's a blessing to start the day. This is a prayer that has probably been spoken for more than a thousand years, because it dates from the first millennium and attributed to an Irish saint called Brigid of Kildare, otherwise known at Bridget of Gael. 

Have a great day!

 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength:

God's power to guide me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's eyes to watch over me;
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to give me speech,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to shelter me,
God's host to secure me.

 

I Arise Today (St. Bridget) – A Collection of Prayers


More

Following on from yesterday's post about Happiness and Joy, here's something I wrote a little while back which summed up how I was thinking then and what is still in my heart. 

Suffice to say, I'm a bit of a 'work in progress' 

 

MORE

Money, love, recognition, image, security

Clothes, house, car, holidays,

All the ‘Stuff’ which controlled me, which I thought defined me

All the ‘Things’ which I desired yet left me constantly dissatisfied, unfulfilled

Always comparing myself with others, always wanting MORE of what THEY had

MORE of what I thought I deserved

MORE and MORE and MORE...

 

NOW

AT LAST

I finally understand

All the Stuff and Things are insignificant, unimportant

Compared to Jesus

And now the MORE for which I yearn is only

MORE of Him, His Love, His Presence

MORE of Jesus in my life

MORE and MORE and MORE ...

 

Cathy Le Feuvre