Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving On

A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.

"What sort of people live in the next town?" asked the stranger.

"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

"They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I'm happy to be leaving the scoundrels."

"Is that so?" replied the old farmer. "Well, I'm afraid that you'll find the same sort in the next town.

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. "What sort of people live in the next town?" he asked.

"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer once again.

"They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I'm sorry to be leaving them."

"Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town." (Source)

Our interim pastor retold this North American folk tale yesterday in his sermon. He was talking about people who are easily offended and who go on to develop a cynical, critical and unforgiving spirit. Our pastor is a very wise man and has suffered much in his life, from the death of a young son to cancer to the current suffering he is going through with his own cancer battle. We can choose how we respond to the good and the inevitable bad that will happen on our lives. Some become fearful and depressed, others critical and angry, while others remain optimistic, forgiving and loving. (see Ginger's post today!) The geriatric unit I work on admits many patients suffering from depression at the end of their lives. Some are tormented by regret, perhaps over affairs they have had, or broken family relationships due to unforgiveness. How sad to come to the end of life with unresolved conflict and pain.

I knew a man who was given six months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was a hard man, critical and unloving, feared by his children and a friend of few. He tried so hard to mend relationships in his last months, asking forgiveness and trying to right a lifetime of wrongs. While I commended his efforts, they were not enough to undo the harm of his actions throughout the years, especially in his children. They will carry the scars of their harsh upbringing and perhaps pass them on for generations to come.

Not everyone gets a six month notice of death. I want to live each day without regret, with love and forgiveness and optimism, looking for the best in the people I see every day.


  1. May you have a week filled with those with "sunny tempers", Ruth!

    Thanks for the enlightening words.

  2. I agree--living a life without regrets and with forgiveness is the best approach.
    I like the story your pastor used--a great parable on how we view the world influences our perception of reality.

  3. Hello, body soul spirit
    On your previous post. I think those birds are either Song Sparrows or Fox Sparrows.

  4. "I want to live each day without regret, with love and forgiveness and optimism, looking for the best in the people I see every day."

    Those are powerful words Ruth.
    Though I've been called a Pollyanna all my life, I really do try to live that way. A nun told me years ago that attitude is a habit. If our attitude is negative, we will meet and see negative in others. If our attitude is positive, we will see smiles and goodness. But most importantly, we will be able to see opportunities to offer encouragement and kindness to those who need it. With a negative attitude those opportunities are missed.

  5. This struck painfully close to home. My father-in-law was similar to the patient who tried unsuccessfully to make amends for a lifetime of cruelty. Sadly, the pain can persist long after the abusive parent's death. So sad.

    You are in a position to transmit these powerful end-of-life lessons.

  6. I actually worked with a young man(29) who was very bitter and cold towards people in general.When he discovered he had cancer, he started to go to church and give life his all.
    Its too bad he didn't have more time to enjoy life but he did make an impression on us all before he died.

  7. I have two phrases that I've use throughout my life "keep sweet" and "take the high road". Life can hand you some tough turns along the road, but your attitude toward them is important on their outcome
    Excellent blog!

  8. What's even the point of being harsh and critical to others anyway? When I see people who are like that I tend to think, "Do they think they're better than anyone else?" "Don't they make mistakes of their own?".

    I don't even want to be near people who are negative, it's a real turn off. It's better to be around people who are optimistic and accepting.

  9. Anonymous1:19 am GMT-4

    That is a folktale for me to write in my personal journal, the message i loud and clear.

    And to make sure it is said: I love you Aunt Ruth!

  10. Anonymous7:49 am GMT-4

    Thank you for posting this folk tale, Ruth! It is so true, and I needed to be reminded of that today!

  11. Anonymous8:39 am GMT-4

    Ruth, thank you for your post today. I loved this story the first time I heard it. And sometimes I need to be reminded of the message!

    The people around us really are often a reflection of what we are at that moment. I see this in work, relationships, even something like trying to get decent service in a shop. We have a great power to control not only our 'internal environment' but to some degree the external as well.

  12. Indeed Ruth, indeed. Like the old saying goes, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're probably right." :c) I prefer to always be a cup half full gal!

  13. Very true - thanks for sharing this tale.

  14. Mary- Thanks. The odd encounters we have with stormy tempers makes the sunny tempers more special.

    KGMom- Yes, I thought it was a very wise parable too. We do a favour to our physical and mental health when we choose to live this way.

    Birdman- Thanks for the ID :-)

    Lynne- I like you and other Pollyanna types! Cynical people are critical of the optimists, but the nun's advise is right on.

    Cathy- I think most of us could think of a person who was hard and abusive and the negative effect that created on the family and acquaintances. What a sad legacy.

    Larry- We don't see many 29 year olds facing death these days, but your story shows that at any age we must try to live wisely.

    OmaLois-"keep sweet"...that is you!

    Becka- You are the one who taught me about people who live in a "Negaverse". How unpleasant it is to be around them.

    Jaspenelle- You are so special and loved by me too!

    Evelyn- Thanks for dropping by!

    Erik- You are so right in observing that "people are often a reflection of what we are at that moment.."
    something to think about.

    Jayne- The half-full cup is another great analogy for life.

    Laura- you're welcome!


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