Pocket Oxford Dictionary

When I was in 6th grade, I made a trip to London to see my Grandparents. Grandpa was working as an executive with Lincoln National Life Insurance. They were living there for several years as Lincoln Life was working to set up an affiliate in France.

It was a nice visit. We got to see a lot of sights.

One goal was to go to the prime meridian in Greenwich, so we were able to do that.

Grandpa and I at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich

We went to a miniature village that was an exhibit in a near town. Another incident I remember was getting scolded by an officer for trying to climb a statue of Peter Pan to get a nice photo.

At the miniature village

I have a Pocket Oxford Dictionary that I have appreciated since then. The inscription reads “Given to me by Mrs. Ann Porter the nice woman who lived in the flat across the hall in England.” It’s my favorite dictionary. The copy I have is the 5th edition from 1969.

It might be optimistic to call it a “pocket” dictionary. It might fit in the side pocket of cargo pants, but a shirt pocket is out of the question. The first edition from 1924 was the “Concise Oxford Dictionary” which seems a more accurate title.

When I returned home, I arrived at the Montreal airport. The family met me there so that we could continue on to a vacation at Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone. I was perplexing to the customs inspectors that interviewed me. I didn’t know how long we would be staying in Canada and couldn’t answer their questions very well.

The flight was on BOAC and I remember getting a few souvenirs from them. I think they’re in a scrapbook my mom put together.

So, Mrs. Porter was very kind. I’m sure she didn’t know she had given me a gift that would be appreciated for 50 years.

Gifts, unearned blessings

What do I get when I am looking too hard for something to love? I end up stirring up trouble and getting far away from my goal. Often, the things that I desire are not really good for me. I try to get an answer and it ends up that I just get more confused. The world doesn’t run to the song that I hope for and as a result I can get unhappy.

When I am patient and waiting, good things come to me. I get new qualities and I wonder where I had been to not see that I needed the grace to be happy again. The world is full of mysteries. Things that are not possible to understand are even less possible to predict. As the days go on, I find that the upward climb can be interrupted at times by an opportunity to rest. Days come and go and I remember that I have been getting stronger. The challenges of yesterday aren’t the same challenges that I have today.

Some of my blessings I don’t even notice. I am surrounded by people who care. I have people in my life that will help me grow. I forget that I have things to be grateful for… a house, my health, a loving family. When I forget these things, I stop seeing the beauty in my life. Without gratitude, I can’t remember that each day is a gift that I can build on with effort and faith.

A Mouse in the Mountains

A long time ago there was a small mouse who was all alone in the mountains. He could never find enough food and was always hungry. He longed for his home on the plains where he grew up. Mouse

Each day the mouse would search for something to eat. He would go from shrub to shrub hoping to find something to eat. Sometimes he would find a pine cone while other days he might be lucky and find a walnut or acorn. Wherever he went, it was never enough.

He was getting desperate and lonely. A wise crow watched him struggle in the brush and wanted to help. He called “Mouse, what do you need?” His voice was lost in the wind. He flew down closer and asked again. This time the mouse heard the question.

He replied, “Wise crow, I am all alone in this giant forest. I never have enough to eat. Every day I feel lost and alone.

The crow asked, “Are you far from home?”

The moue replied, “Yes I am far away from the fields of my childhood. I wish I could go home.”

The crow thought carefully. He said, “I am too old to take you there myself, but I know a young eagle what would enjoy the expedition.”

“But wise crow, won’t he eagle eat me and not take me home?”

The crow said, “The eagle’s family owes me greatly. They are an honorable people. He will do this for me if I ask.”

The mouse thought about how hungry he was. He was not sure, but after a while, he said, “Ok, let’s go!”

The crow flew away and soon an eagle came.

The mouse said, “Powerful eagle, I am so small. I am afraid of your sharp talons and giant beak.”

The eagle said “Dear mouse, do not fear. I am doing a favor for wise crow. I will get you home safely.”

The mouse and eagle lifted off into the sky and flew toward the plains.

Many hours later, the travelers arrived at the plain. The eagle said “See small mouse, I have kept my word. Be kind to the people you meet and remember my gift.”

Little mouse said “Thank you kind eagle. I am forever grateful.”

After a few weeks, the mouse found enough food. He wasn’t hungry any more. He remembered the mountain and was glad that life was so much easier now.

Later, the mouse met a tiny cricket. They became friends and were always together. The cricket had his own story of being rescued. Not too long before he met the mouse, a cardinal attacked the cricket. A cat in the field saw the bird and chased it away before the bird was able to eat the cricket.

The mouse said, “I am so grateful for these strangers. The eagle and the cat. Without their help we would have never met.”

As their friendship grew, the always looked for opportunities to be a kind stranger to the others on the plain.

Life was not always easy for the mouse and cricket, but the chances they found to help others kept them busy.

In the end, they took their difficult times and used them to make the world better. They felt that if that did not give to others what was given to them, they would become hard and cold.

Now that they have lived many seasons, they see how much they had to offer. They became a warm source of light for their neighbors. All of this joy was the result of one wise crow offering to help a helpless creature in the mountains. Now they are also wise and give to everyone they meet.

Original image: Mouse. By Diggler Photography [Image license]