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A peasant noticed that his wallet with money had disappeared. Searching throughout the house, he couldn’t find the wallet and concluded that it had been stolen. Thinking of those who had recently visited him, the peasant decided that he knew the thief: it was the neighbour’s son. The boy had dropped in at the peasant’s house just before the wallet disappeared. It was obvious that nobody else could have committed the theft.

On meeting the boy the next time, the peasant noticed a lot of signs in the boy’s behaviour, confirming his suspicions. It was obvious that the neighbour’s son was embarrassed; he turned his eyes away and looked like a mischievous cat. In general, every gesture and movement proved he was a thief. But the peasant hadn’t any exact evidence and he didn’t know what to do.

Each time he met the boy the boy looked even guiltier and the peasant’s anger grew stronger. At last, he was so irritated that he decided to meet the thief’s father and bring him an accusation. Unexpectedly, his wife called him. “Look what I’ve found behind the bed!” she said and gave him the “stolen” wallet.

The next day the peasant cast a look at his neighbour’s son again: none of his gestures and movements gave witness that he was a thief.

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, has recorded his first album of modern pop songs in 28 years. The album will be released by Atlantic and the artist’s Ya Records label in November 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Cat Stevens record.

Atlantic Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman said, “He is one of the greatest singers and songwriters in history. Yusuf’s new songs are as moving and timeless as the classics that inspired a generation. His spiritual quest is one of the most extraordinary stories of our time – a life journey marked by courage, devotion, and transformation. We are all truly fortunate that Yusuf has chosen this moment to return to contemporary music, delivering a deeply heartfelt album that addresses peace, love, and the higher self.”

Stevens became a British pop star in the mid-1960s, while also writing hits for other artists, including “Here Comes My Baby” and “First Cut Is The Deepest.” In 1968, his blossoming career was suddenly derailed when he contracted tuberculosis. He spent a year recovering from his illness, and when he returned to recording, it was with new introspection and sensitivity.

Stevens reemerged in 1970, and the following year he made his US chart debut with the acclaimed “Tea for the Tillerman”. Over the next seven years, he had seven top ten albums, including such classics as “Teaser and the Firecat,” “Catch Bull at Four” and “Buddha and the Chocolate Box.” Having reinvented his music, he wrote and performed such personal and reflective songs as “Wild World,” “Father And Son,” “Peace Train,” “Moonshadow,” “Morning Has Broken” and “Oh Very Young”.

In the midst of his career, Stevens nearly drowned in the Pacific Ocean off Malibu, and experienced a spiritual turning point. Shortly thereafter, his brother gave him a copy of the Qur’an, and he was inspired to remake his life. Converting to Islam, in 1978 he left the music world entirely, changed his name and devoted his life to charitable and educational work.

Yusuf has received a series of awards for his life’s work, including the 2004 “Man for Peace,” given by a committee of Nobel peace laureates. Most recently, he has been invited to attend the upcoming PeaceJam 10th Anniversary Youth Conference in Denver in September 2007. The goal of this historic event, to be attended by three thousand teenagers from thirty-one countries, is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers to transform their local communities, themselves and the world.

Of his return to the pop music world, Yusuf says, “I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again. It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross.”

Park scene

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with cupcakes and several cans of soft drink and started on his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he saw an elderly woman. She was sitting on a park bench watching the pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his soft drink when he noticed the lady looked hungry so he offered her a cupcake. She gratefully accepted and smiled at him. Her smile was so wonderful that he wanted to see it again, so he offered a soft drink as well. Once again she smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling without saying a word. As it began to grow dark, the boy realized how tired he was and wanted to go home. He got up to leave but before he had gone no more than a few steps, he turned around and ran back to the old woman, giving her a big hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy arrived home his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked, “What has made you so happy today?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” Before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile in the whole world!”

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face. He asked, “Mother, what has made you so happy today?” She replied, “I ate cupcakes in the park with God.” And before her son could reply, she added, “You know, he is much younger than I expected”.

Too often we under-estimate the power of a touch, smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

The Poet SoordaasA poet named Soordaas lived in India a few centuries ago. He was blind. Soordaas worshipped Lord Krishna. Even though he was blind, it was always his wish and faith that one day he would see Lord Krishna.

One day while walking in the village where he lived, he became disoriented and as a result he fell into a well. Being a wise man, he recognised his predicament and that he was likely to drown in the well. As he floated in the water he started to pray to his beloved Lord Krishna, saying, “O Lord, I am not worried about dying, but my desire to have Your Darshan will not be fulfilled in this life.”

A voice called from above the well, “Hold my hand and I will pull you out of the well.” Soordaas held on to the offered hand and was pulled out of the well.

Soordaas’s benefactor said, “Now that you are out of the well and you are safe, please let go of my hand”. Soordaas replied, “No, Lord Krishna, this is not an ordinary human who can reach into the well to save me. This can only be My Lord Whom I have been seeking all my life. I will not let go till I have your Darshan.” Thus the devotion and complete surrender of Soordaas was rewarded with Lord Krishna’s Darshan (Divine presence).

Avtar Sodhi

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