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Branches along the Path

One of my favorite stories is about an ancient, Far East community. When elderly folks were about to pass on, they were taken, and left on the top of a hill that was surrounded by a thick forest to pass on in peace and tranquility.
In the community, there lived a young man who was an only child. His father had died. One day, he noticed that his elderly mother was failing in her health, so he prepared to embark on the journey to the top of the hill. During the sad journey, he realized that it was his last time to be physically close to his mother. He wondered what he could give her as a reward for her contribution toward his well being. Hugging her this time seemed inadequate, and there was no more time for cards or occasional outings together.
As they traveled, he occasionally felt something pull him back and then release suddenly. After a long time, he looked behind and saw his mother pulling branches off trees and leaving them along the path they were traveling. He could not figure out whether it was a customary practice or something that was only significant for his mother.
However, he knew that he had to learn the meaning of this peculiar practice from his mother so that he could pass it on to his children. He asked her why she was leaving branches along the path. His mother, weak because of her failing health and fatigue from the journey, with faint voice said, ?Son, when you leave me on top of the hill, I won?t need directions any more. However, you will need to find your way home. I have left those branches to help you find the path.?

Five branches serve as a dependable roadmap leading directly to spiritual and other riches.

1. Who am I? Acceptance of ones uniqueness regardless of narrow identities that are based on superficial social and biological groupings is important. Know that you are created with the image of God. Your uniqueness (talents, gifts and experiences) should enrich the world differently from anybody else, and what other people think about you shouldn?t become your reality. Knowing who you are, you seek for God?s definite purpose of your life that helps you utilize your full potential.

2. Relationships. Having bonds that endure trying times. A personal relationship with God provides the inward tranquility that overcomes ever present life tribulations. Close ties with family and community ensure our uniqueness an environment to fulfill our mission.

3. Leave the past behind. Past failures or losses should be a point of reference but not your habitat. Spiritual and professional success largely depends on our ability to move from one drawback to another (loss of a job, broken relationship, grief or unfulfilled dreams) with restored hope, determination, new vision and action plan. Each drawback has to be viewed as a valuable lesson that makes us better.

4. Be an agent of social change. John Newton was born into a slave trader?s family. He became a captain of the trade. On the verge of death, he realized that what he was doing was inhumane and proposed to leave it. He did leave it and helped stop the insidious slave trade. John composed the song ?Amazing Grace? that touches and uplifts souls worldwide. Violence is still committed in our homes. Acts of animosity towards other tribes, races or religions still abound. Like John, one can evaluate their own practices, leave it and sing one?s own ?Amazing Grace.?

5. Leave legacy. Birth and death dates shown on headstones are connected with a dash. However, it is what one does in his/her lifetime, represented by the dash that is of importance. Think of well know people who have passed on. You may not know their birth and death dates, but you know or have an idea of what each did. Helping others find solace in their dark hours of life is a beautiful coronation of the dash that will connect your birth and death dates.

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