These are difficult days. The world economy has tanked, crime and violence and drugs are almost everywhere. Many of us could use some encouragement and insight. I think this story offers both. One of my daughters-in-law sent this to me, and I think it's appropriate to share it here: Some years ago, on a hot summer day, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole that was behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realising that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an crocodile was swimming toward the shore. In the house, his mother was looking out the window. She saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the crocodile reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms, just as the crocodile snatched his legs. That began a very incredible tug-of-war between the two. The crocodile was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the crocodile. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy Survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. On his arms, there were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh, in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked the boy if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. Then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, 'But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn't let go.' You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an crocodile, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly, and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, S/He's been right there, holding on to you. Gurbani teaches that God loves you. You are a child of God. S/He wants to protect you, and provide for you in every way. But, sometimes, we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life - the terrifying world ocean - is filled with peril ~ and we forget that anything can - and does - happen. That is when the tug-of-war begins. If you have the scars of His/Her love on your arms, be very, very grateful. S/He will not ever let you go. Never judge other persons' scars, because you don't know how they got them (A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.) Chardi kala!