Reading has always been a favourite pastime for me. I have tried to apply some of the good things I read in the many different situations where I needed guidance to see things in a positive light. When I hear people discribe a town or village as this way or that way, this parable comes to my mind.

In ancient times, cities were surrounded by a wall to protect them from wild animals and conquering armies. At the gate there sat an old man who came to sell his goods. Every stranger who came to the gate passed by him.

A stranger from another city came by one day and stopped in front of the old man before entering the city.

“Tell me, old man,” he asked, “what kind of people live in this city?”

The old man replied, “What kind of people lived in the city where you came from?”

The stranger answered, “Oh they were bad people, stealing from each other, unkind to strangers, and they only care about themselves.”

“Well,” said the old man sadly, “we have the same kind of people here.”

The stranger went away to find a better city.

Later on another stranger approached the city gate and stopped in front of the old man. “Tell me, old man,” he said, “what kind of people live in this city?”

The old man asked him the same question as he asked the first stranger.

“Oh, they were wonderful people,” replied the stranger, “always helping each other, sharing with those who were less fortunate and they were kind the each other.” Come on in, friend,” said the old man, joyfully, “we have the same kind of people here!”

A young man standing nearby had heard the old man as he spoke to both strangers.

“Tell me, old man,” he asked puzzled, “why did you tell the first stranger there were bad people here and the second stranger there were good people here?”

The old man replied, “Each person will find what he is looking for. If he is looking for the bad in people, he will find it and if he is looking for the good in people he will find that also.”

There are times when I hear how violence and abuse have overtaken our community and we should be concerned about this situation but I feel we dwell on these issues to the point of overshadowing the good things in our village. Our village is a place of giving and sharing. It is evident in the Christmas baskets that are distributed around the village, the Elders’ Banquet, the many feasts among families and friends, the church socials and Christmas parties for children in schools and different entities. The open hospitality of the village is there for those who look for it.

Just as the strangers in the parable, when you come to our village, what are you looking for? If we dwell on the negative things rather than the positive, we become negative in all things.

Next time you visit our community, concentrate on the good things and come with a positive mind to enjoy yourself and the people around you. Surprisingly your attitude towards the community will change. I did at Christmas, and I have some wonderful memories stored away to share with you at a future date.