Friday, April 7, 2017


             In the earlier days of space research, a space research centre had to devise a method to enable astronauts to write in the special conditions of outer space such as zero-gravity. A team of scientists proposed an expensive project to develop special pens for use in space. While the proposal was being presented before the staff, a young scientist stood up and asked, “I have a humble suggestion. Instead of spending such a large amount to develop a special pen, why don’t we try to use an ordinary pencil?” The suggestion was received with great applause. Initial trials proved that a pencil could work well in conditions of zero-gravity and some early space travellers used it. Later, it was feared that the fine particles of graphite from the eroding lead can conduct electricity and may adversely affect the operation of delicate electronic control systems in the closed conditions of a space-ship and so better substitutes were fabricated.

              A great teacher gifted a pencil to each of his students and asked them to list the lessons of life that they could learn from a pencil. The major messages they presented were the following:

1…Each pencil has a definite purpose. It draws a line as it moves forward. This line becomes specific letters, words, phrases, sentences and a finally, a unique presentation with a meaningful message.
 Every person is a special noble creation of God with a particular purpose, role and mission in the world. By our life and actions, we have to fulfill the intention of the Creator.

2…A pencil permits to be held and guided by a hand to perform with perfection.
We must be ready to be guided by the will, words and hands of God. We must be humble and ready to surrender ourselves to the will of God. That is the only way to achieve great things in life.

3…A pencil leaves a definite mark on the surface on which it moves.
By doing our duties with dedication, we must leave our mark on every situation we are involved in and every person we interact with. That is the mark of our Creator which He uses to change the world through each of us.

4…The most important part of a pencil is its inside. The lead made of graphite is what enables it to leave a mark on the surface on which it moves. The decorated outer wooden portion may have visible beauty, but appearances can be deceptive. The quality of the pencil is decided by the inner lead.
The eternal soul within us is more important than the perishable body which houses it. The inner beauty and virtue of a person cannot be judged by his external appearance.

5…A pencil is used along with an eraser. Sometimes, the eraser is attached to the other end of a pencil. Though a mark of correction may remain, the eraser enables immediate correction of any mistake made.
We may make mistakes in life as “to err is human”. But a noble man corrects his error at the earliest. We must learn from our mistakes and proceed in pursuit of perfection.

6…A pencil has to be sharpened and polished frequently to serve its function with perfection.
Human life requires occasional painful sharpening to achieve its goal. Sharpening of human life is through the adversities and painful experiences man may have to endure in life. They lead to physical, mental and spiritual strengthening and regeneration. Adversity is the best university.

7…Applying too much pressure on a pencil while writing can break the tip of the lead causing great damage and hindrance to smooth writing.
Unnecessary stress and strain from vaulting ambition may damage our life and progress. When we are ready to accept the will of God, life becomes steady, pleasant and enjoyable.
             St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata said, “We are all pencils in the hand of God.” 

© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally, Leo. S. John and Neil John, Maniparambil, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India. 
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