grey scale photograph of two elephant

The Memory of An Elephant

Jenny was a resident living at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. in 1999. Jenny became very excited and could hardly be contained when she was introduced to, new arrival, Shirley, an Asian elephant. Caretakers could not explain the two animals’ reactions as they embraced one another with their trunks and familiarized themselves with one another’s scents. They even traced scars on each other bodies as if it were a medical exam.   

The caretakers knew a little about Jenny’s past in the circus but knew even less about Shirley. However, it was obvious to all that these two ladies knew one another. After doing some research and digging into Jenny and Shirley’s past it was discovered that they in fact had been friends, twenty-three years earlier. Shirley was a short-term elephant brought on for a few months in the same traveling circus as Jenny. These two remarkable ladies were acquainted for a few months, but they never forgot one another. 

The elephant has an incredible and well documented memory. Over the last one hundred years scientist, researchers and animal society’s have discovered the accurate ability of elephants to recall information from previous years. This remarkable characteristic directly contributes to the success or failure of a herd which is made up of mothers and their calves.

The matriarch elephant, who generally leads the herd, decides much concerning the family’s direction and activity. A study by Scientific American, proved that elephant herds with matriarchs between the ages of fifty to fifty-five years of age had a significantly lower rate of death among their brood during times of extreme drought. This fact was due to the matriarch recalling previous droughts and the places the herd had migrated to find food and water.

Elephants also demonstrate the ability to remember both good experiences and bad. They remember injuries and even hold grudges against those who hurt them. African Elephants, for instance, react negatively towards certain smells and colors of clothing. Researchers discovered the elephant’s memories of past experiences were being triggered to recall encounters with Maasai tribesmen. The tribesmen often threw spears at the elephants to prove their manhood.

I am not much different from an elephant when it comes to memories, both good and bad. I remember good times and not so good times. I remember people who were kind as well as people who weren’t very kind, in fact they were mean. Like the elephant, I am prone to hold a grudge towards those who threw spears at me just to prove a point. Oh, the memories that break lose and roll around in our minds from time to time.  

On the other hand, at times I was the one who caused bad memories in others of my own species. I have not always been so kind. Occasionally, I threw spears of insult and sarcasm at others just to prove I was in some way superior, to prove I was a man. Honestly, I am sure there are a few people out there who I have wronged, and they might even hold a grudge towards me. When I examine these memories which come unpacked and roll around in my mind, I have remorse. I wish I could go back and make it better.

People are a lot like elephants in that we can recall both good and bad events in our lives. We are able to use memories in a wise and productive way but also in an unproductive and negative way. 1st Corinthians 13 verse 5 gives us an escape from the negative effects of grudges, “love keeps no record of wrongs.” This is a high standard for each of us to strive but a needful one. I have both hurt and been hurt. I have wounded and offended and been the victim of the same. The wisdom of not counting every wrong and offense is a necessity if we are going to be at peace with others in the present and have healthy and productive memories in our past.

The next time I am tempted to nurse a grudge against someone who threw a spear at me just to prove they were better, hopefully I will also recall those at whom I have thrown a spear. Maybe if I forgive others, then others will forgive me.

“Love keeps no record of wrongs…”

Scientific American, James Ritchie, Jan 12, 2009, | Fact or Fiction? Elephants Never Forget

Wonderopolis, Wonder of the Day #228 | Do Elephants Ever Forget?

Count to Ten…

I remember the old idiom, “count to ten before you speak.” The wisdom of this advice is obvious. Thomas Jefferson added to this council, “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.” Certain words of wisdom are obviously true and have lasting value to each generation. 2022 is no different, now is the time for people to stand up and count to ten.

Maybe the rationale behind this adage is to take time to thoughtfully respond as opposed to rashly reacting. Reacting is in the moment and runs the risk of being tainted by emotions, situations, and circumstances. Although reactions can be positive, but this only comes by a person being trained to respond to the event beforehand. Doctor’s, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement are each trained for months and years in how to respond to emergency situations so they might react in the most productive way.

In our personal relationships, and in our World today there are many needs. Today, I am focused on just one of those needs, the need to practice self-control and not anger. Reaction much of the time causes anger and anger harm. Self-control, on the other hand, brings forth a trained and thoughtful response. To react or to respond, all outcomes are determined by these two methods.

“Love is not easily angered…”

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

“Follow Me.” Please!

“Follow me on social media!” This is a well know phrase we hear
and see on every platform and video app or streaming website these days.
“Follow me.” “Like me.” “Subscribe to me.”
“Click the bell for notifications”, and on and on the familiar
jargon goes in the online era.


We are well familiar with the way it works. The more a post is viewed, then
the greater the percentage is that someone will click the like button. If they
like our posts, they may even subscribe and become a follower of ours. If we have
enough people following, we become what social media platforms call an
“influencer.” This online society is popularity driven and we are
received and evaluated on how well our content is “liked” by our
niche audience groups.

While I have been considering these new norms in our society, I tried to
remember the first time I heard anyone say, “follow me.” I must have
been six or maybe eight years old. I was born in the early 70’s so, I didn’t
hear it online. I didn’t even hear it on my weekly infusion of Saturday morning
cartoons. No, I heard “follow me” for the first time in Sunday
School. Jesus was the very first to say, “follow me”, people did and
still do. What a trend he started.

We know from the Bible that Jesus was probably the most selfless man who
ever lived or ever will live. He served others even up until his very last
moments. He never asked people to “like him”, or to even “give him
a thumbs up”, but he did ask people to “follow him.” Follow the
example of the way he lived, loved, and served others.

So, the next time we read or hear the phrase “follow me.” Maybe we
will remember where it was first coined. Maybe, we will recall it means so much
more. Perhaps we will even dare to respond to the invitation and follow his example
and everyday, choose to help someone out along the way.

“Love is not self-seeking…”

cutouts of letters

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule still has value in 2021. Recognizing the truth is simple. The sky is blue. The Sun is bright. The clouds are white or dark, depending on the weather. One plus one is two, and so on. The truth is refreshingly simple and so easy a child can understand. We teach our children truth and ask them for the same in return. The value of truth is imperative in our world today. People who have a quiet confidence and are not intimidated by the opinion of others will always defend the truth and honor others in the process.

Regardless of our belief’s, we should consider the truth as beneficial and necessary. Our personal opinion concerning the source of verifiable truth should not be a reason to dismiss the facts or the person. The Golden Rule is a principle attributed to Jesus as recorded in the Bible. “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Our schools, businesses, and society teach and practice this necessary and true principle of civilized people. One may disagree with the source of this truth, which they have every right and freedom to do so, but each of must with quiet confidence recognize the principle is true and beneficial to us as individuals and our society as a whole.

To “do to others what you would have them do to you” simply means this, give to each person the respect, and honor you would like to receive. Honor means to highly respect or greatly esteem and to do what is right. The people in our world today, can hopefully agree on many truths and principles. One of the most important of these should be to respect and honor each person, regardless of whether or not we agree with them.

“Love does not dishonor others…” 1st Cor. 13:5

Parent Lunch Day!

Pride is a subtle power. It can lift us up and bring us low, it has the unusual power to do both in an undetectable way. I remember how proud I was to have my mom or dad come eat lunch with me at school. Occasionally, the school would schedule a “Parent Lunch Day” and every kid was excited to have their mom or dad as a lunch guest. At other times, a parent would just feel the need to spend some extra time with their kid, so they would show up for lunch and when that happened some interesting results could be observed.

A parent at a lunch table is an immediate draw and compelling person of interest, just their visit makes a kid immensely popular for at least thirty to forty-five minutes. When my mom or dad would come to school and have lunch with me, every kid in the cafeteria wanted to sit at my hexagon shaped table, which of course, only seated six. It was as if a celebrity had graced the cafeteria with their presence, to eat stamped out, rectangular pizza, corn, fruit cocktail and 2% milk.

When mom came to visit, a lot of girls wanted to sit at my table, which was unusual and was not really desirable until I was in fifth or sixth grade. When dad came to visit both boys and girls wanted to sit at my table, because dad was cool, he had a mustache. In the 80’s mustaches were in and my dad had well-groomed facial hair. He had made the mustache popular long before Tom Selleck’s acting talent was even discovered. If you had a lunch guest with interesting facial hair, you were somebody!

Kids are under such pressure these days to be someone of importance and influence. Our culture and social media place a premium on popularity regardless of a person’s character. One of the most valuable and important status symbols which I remember from elementary and middle school was simply this, an interested and involved mom or dad. An engaged parent, with or without a mustache, is understood by kids of all ages to be a source of honor and pride.

“Love is not proud…” 1st Cor. 13:4

Hide and Seek

Boasting is not always a bad observation, it can lead to significant thought. When I think of boasting, one person comes to mind immediately, my grandma. This may seem odd, but I have my reasons and in a few short paragraphs I will attempt to explain.

We never lived in the same town as my grandma, so I was only in her company for ten or twelve days my whole life, during family vacations mostly. It was during one such visit we were left for half a day or so at grandma’s house, while mom and dad went elsewhere. I must have been around eight-years-old and Adam, my brother, was six, also in our company was our cousin Mike, who was close to my age.

We stayed outside the entire day in the summer sun and all the games boys can come up with, we played. Grandma had one rule and it was simple, “Stay in the yard boys.” she would say. Almost like clockwork every thirty minutes or so grandma would come to the screen door to check on us. She wanted to get a visual of where we were and what we were up to. She was wise. I did not mind the routine surveillance; it was kind of nice seeing her at the door. It was this monitoring which caused me to come up with a new game. It is funny how kids can make a game out of just about anything and have great fun with little effort, just playing around.

The game was simple, to my shame, I proposed we hide from grandma. Her house had two doors one in the front and the other on the side. The next time grandma came to the side door we simply stepped around the corner to the front of the house out of sight. We laughed and giggled, we thought we were so smart, but it was fun. Soon, we heard the side door shut and then we stepped around to the side of the house, again out of sight. We would then laugh as grandma opened the front screen door to peer out into the yard to see her troubled grandson’s. This pattern went on and on for five or ten minutes and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

We were hiding in front of the house waiting for the side door to close and when it did, we snuck around the corner to the side. Suddenly, the side door began to open again, “What a strategy,” I thought to myself, “she had faked us out.” We hurriedly jumped around the corner of the house to the front and boy were we surprised to see grandma standing there in the door looking straight at us. She had enlisted the help of our aunt who lived with her, to catch us in our devious game. We laughed and she grinned and then said, “Boys, come on in the house.”

We reluctantly agreed, and one by one filed into the warden’s front door. Once inside, there was not much to do but watch TV, my grandma and aunt were already watching “The Walton’s”. They were always watching, “The Walton’s” or “Little House on the Prairie” always. The cable in her house was stuck in a TV marathon from the 1970’s and nothing an eight-year-old boy would be interested in was on the playlist.

We settled down onto the floor of the living room with our Match Box and Hot Wheels cars and we were content. We had only played for a few minutes before the sky grew dark, the street lights came on, and an afternoon thunderstorm began to roar outside, I guess grandma was right to bring us inside. The wind became strong and gusty, the down pour of rain made it difficult to see the street. An occasional bolt of lightning and crack of thunder made the storm exciting, but the cable never went out, we were not that lucky.

It was during the storm, while playing on the rug in front of the couch, that I began to look around the living room. The decorating was normal, kind of like my mom’s style. Grandma’s house was comfortable, warm, and inviting but on this day, I noticed a difference between her house and mine, it was the pictures. Grandma had pictures everywhere, they were on the end-tables, shelves, on the TV above “The Walton’s”, and on every wall in the house. I got up to peruse the gallery’s collection and there were pictures on every living room wall, down the hallway, in the kitchen and bedrooms, even the bathroom had pictures.

The pictures were of family mostly, black & white and color pictures of babies, toddlers, kids my age and older, and teenagers’. There were pictures of weddings, birthdays and Christmas’ gone by and there were old people a lot of old people on the walls. The pictures of the older people though were the most interesting at which to look. Grandma noticed my interest in the pictures, and she came over and began to point out and name the people. Kid’s, grandkid’s, great-grandkid’s, cousin’s, sister’s, brother’s, moms and dads all had their own special place on the wall. Many lives, years and stories were recorded in the numerous pictures in her gallery, and while the storm raged outside, my grandma and aunt led me through the house telling me of people I would never meet. The way grandma told me of the people was one of the most interesting points I remember. She told of her family and friends with kindness, love, respect, and care. She honored every single person whether they were deserving or not. Her voice made the pictures come alive and have real meaning and purpose.

Every couple of years my family would come in to visit grandma while on vacation. The only changes at her house were usually her age, health, and new pictures added to the walls. My grandma never had a lot in terms of money or possession’s. She was not well known or followed in her town and never celebrated by anyone other than friends or family. To look at her in those little old lady dresses with rolled up socks, she was simple and unassuming. Grandma could not boast of much which this world might deem valuable today, but she did not have to, her walls did the boasting for her.

“Love does not boast…” 1st Cor. 13:4

Pet Me Too!

Envy is a universal emotion; over the years I have read articles on its unsatisfied apatite. I have seen this emotion in myself, others and even my pets. We have an outside dog, which is an Australian Shepherd named Sully. We also have an inside dog, which is a Maltese named Mowgli. Sully obviously has Mowgli envy and it is almost impossible for me to resolve.

Sully has a comfortable life in our garage and on the back porch. He is kept warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer, but Sully wants the couch! I often see him come to the French doors and peer in, longingly, at Mowgli lounging on someone’s lap or just laying on a pillow, on the couch.

It was this scenario which led to a planned invasion by man’s best, outside, friend. One morning my wife decided to go onto the back porch to water the ferns. When she opened the door, Sully stuck his snout through the crack, then his head, his shoulders and the rest of his envious body and shot the gap. He pushed his way in despite the screaming objections of my wife, raced across the living room and leapt into the air. Once airborne, he cleared the ottoman in a single bound making several rather athletic and graceful maneuvers, similar to that of an Olympic gymnast. Once he arrived at the coveted spot, he stuck the landing, right on the couch! The screaming, dragging, and flying of fur which ensued was unparalleled before or since.

I have learned something from observing Sully. He has not shot the gap again but occasionally he will stick his snout into the door when it is opened just a tiny bit to test the perimeter. He seems to be satisfied with his chair on the back porch but I bet envy still lurks in his thoughts. He is waiting and biding his time, to once again invade and take by calculated force the object of his envy.

“Love does not envy…” 1st Cor. 13:4

white printer paper with be kind text on plants


Sometimes, I struggle to be kind, it happens. I’m not a mean or vengeful person but occasionally, I am distracted and in the moment uninterested in the conversation. For example, people often share with me their health issues and deep dive into great detail. I have genuine concern for the person but I’m not really interested in regards to their routine colonoscopy. I frequently help people who have health issues in anyway possible but the details seem to be more than I can process. I listen without interrupting them and nod at all the appropriate times but after the conversation I often feel I missed the mark in showing them genuine concern and kindness.

In 1937, Walter Winchell said, “It is swell to be important—but more important to be swell!” Writers and speakers came along afterward and exchanged the word swell for nice and the modern adage was coined. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” I hope that my willingness to listen to the details and frequent offers to help in anyway I can (within reason), is regarded as “nice” and kind. Maybe listening shows a kindness often overlooked in our society today.

“Love is kind…” 1st Cor. 13:4


Drive-thru Patience…

Patience is brilliance in action. In my own experience, I have found myself to be patient in some areas but not in others. For example, I am patient when dealing with most people, but irritable and anxious at fast food drive-thru’s. Talk about a contradiction in terms, “fast food?” We have been trained to expect an immediate remedy and satisfaction but when the process breaks down and order accuracy fails, my self control is put to the test.

Automated phone systems also try my patience. These company’s, should just inform the caller in a wonderfully, graceful prerecorded voice, “We really do not wish to speak with you concerning your issue. Please continue to respond by pushing random numbers in our multi-tiered navigation menu. If you are patient and wait long enough, a representative will eventually speak with you, unless this call is lost due to no fault of our own. Thank you and have a nice day.”

Philosopher John Dewey said, “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom found in woman, never found in man.” Patience involves waiting and waiting we do not like. Life requires both waiting and patience, so I must learn to wait gracefully and stay in line at the drive-thru.

“Love is patient…” 1st Cor. 13:4

An Honor…

“The honor is all mine.” “It would be an honor.” “Yes, your Honor.” Each of these idioms represent commonly used phrases in cultures around our world today. Honor, emphasizes high respect and great esteem but also denotes doing what is known to be right.

Honoring others, even when they are disagreeable or uncooperative, is the fullest definition of the word. Listening to and treating friends and opponents with value, respect and common courtesy is the right thing to do.

Genuine honor is a valuable gift to give and all the more priceless when received.

“Love does not dishonor others…” 1 Cor. 13:5