Friday, January 23, 2009

Hope for Peace?

Many people are hoping for a better world with the dawn of a new American president. My hope is for a world with less violence.


The child,
screaming out of the mother’s womb,
stares unseeingly at the people in white;
this hospital her first home,
nestling in a sleepy English town,
hugged by cozy hills of green.
The mother with foreign eyes
cradles the child,
smiling weakly through
her sweat sodden mist of exhaustion.
Had her own mother in that childhood land
destroyed by guns and bombs
cradled her thus?

The English father looking on,
eyes burning with love and pride,
easing the precious burden
into his arms...
What of the future
for this baby so small?
A fusion of two cultures,
two nations,
two lands,
divided by man-made lines.
Do guns and bombs await her, too,
or only half of her?
Must she take sides
between mother and father
when others of their kind
suddenly call each other enemy?
Which half to give to which?
Impossible —
belonging to both and neither!
Mocking the ludicrous absurdity
of national divisions
people fight and die for.

This time, this place, these parents,
the child’s choice — why?
A small champion
for a new way,
a new life,
a new world of humanity?
A sign of hope
that in the future
we can finally be free
from our present, crazy,
violent insanity?

Copyright © 2008 Helena Harper

(from 'Family and More - Enemies or Friends?')

What do you hope for?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Unsung Heroes

Today I paid a visit to my physio. Not an unusual occurrence during the last 14 years (as every so often I do something whilst playing tennis and last year I broke my wrist, so he's still helping me with that). I found him 14 years ago with a friend's help, when I had a very bad back injury, and he quite literally gave me back my life. He made time to see me when he had a fully booked day, because he knew I was in pain and needed treatment desperately. This is something he does on a regular basis and he also generously gives up his time to treat the elderly and handicapped at home. Yet he gets scant if any appreciation from his boss. He is one of my 'unsung heroes' and this poem is for him (from 'Family and More - Enemies or Friends?').


A teddy bear of a man
with face soft and round,
healing hands flowing up and down the spine,
the experienced touch quickly revealing
muscular spasms, stiffened joints
and bones displaced.
The situation serious,
that he knows,
but quietly confident is he
that all will be right,
so a positive picture he paints
to the patient in distress and pain,
inspiring hope and belief
that painless walking
will indeed be possible again.

The day’s fully booked,
yet always ready to give up time
to squeeze in patients here and there,
for his gentle, feeling heart
can never bear the sight of
a soul pained and distressed.
If he can lighten the load
and free the spirit,
then his conscience he’s followed,
his calling’s been done,
and he can sleep easy
when the time comes to rest.

A job it is not
for this human healer,
but a vocation potent and strong;
the call he must heed
and that he does,
working long hours
for people in need,
a life given willingly to serve others
and to help at all costs,
that’s what he truly believes.
Patients from far and near
come to reap the remedies
from his curative hands,
for physios like him
certainly don’t grow on trees,
and distance is no object
when all else has been tried.
Anything, anything, anything
can be endured
for this healer unique!

A faith resolute and deep
and humor rich and warm
giving him strength for the never-ending days,
passionately exploring
the hidden depths of biblical truths
and scientific explanations
of human evolution and creation,
leading to discussions that stimulate
about God and science,
the universe and infinity;
a desire to self-educate
in matters of religion and profession
impressing so powerfully,
like the memory
detailed and extraordinary.

Exploited by his boss,
yet never complaining
or speaking harsh words,
he diligently toils
whilst others reap the spoils
of his long hours of work,
but then disaster!
Blood spouting from
a burst, overlarge vein,
a defect since birth,
one operation, then another,
situation critical,
life hanging by a thread,
but he survives,
months of convalescence required,
cards from well-wishers
received by the hundred,
tokens of respect and affection,
his legacy of years of caring.
The return to work is slow,
for now he knows
his body just cannot be abused,
hours must be cut
to ensure sufficient rest
so it doesn’t blow another fuse.

One day of healing after another,
his life,
and private treatment accessible to all,
his hope for the future.
Were grateful thanks a currency for bank accounts,
then this vision would most definitely be
a reality vibrant and true
and no more than the reward
this selfless healer
and man of benevolence is due.
If we all gave of ourselves
as this man does,
imagine the world we would create!
Each of us treating strangers
as our other half,
where nothing was too much
for the well-being of another
and selfishness was forgotten,
a thing of the past.
If we followed this man’s lead,
we would gradually overcome
all obstacles that impede,
for this imagined world is the goal
we secretly long for with all our hearts.
“Then let’s start on the path,” comes the shout,
“that will make it concrete, substantial and real!”

Copyright © 2008 Helena Harper
(From 'Family and More - Enemies or Friends?')

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I've been reading a lot about kindness lately, and came across a great article yesterday that talked about needing to be kind to yourself first before you can be kind to others. It then listed kindnesses you can do for yourself, then for those in your neighbourhood and then for others. Some people do little acts of kindness instinctively, like my sister, who is always lending an ear to a person in need, no matter what misfortunes arise in her own life - she is:

'Truly a shining example to that younger sister
whose self-absorbed wishes
drowned out thoughts of others
for many a long year,
but the passing days
have taught her to honestly treasure
the unselfishness of the elder —
a humble, compassionate soul
instinctively in touch
with her nature purely divine,
a privilege indeed
to call her a sister of mine.'

Copyright © Helena Harper
(from 'Family and More - Enemies or Friends?')

But often, I think, we're so focused on our own daily problems and concerns that we just don't see little opportunities that cost us nothing to brighten someone's day (saying thank you to the postman who delivers the mail come rain or shine, smiling at a stranger, holding a shopping trolley for a young mother, holding open a door etc.) We just go around in a fog that blinds us to them. However, I've found that when one makes a conscious decision to look out for such opportunities, one automatically becomes more aware of them and then one instinctively helps. One is also much more aware of how much one has to be grateful for, because there are always people who are worse off than we are. Would you agree?