A few years ago I remember a 6 year old girl in one of my parishes giving me a gift wrapped in colored paper with a shiny ribbon. She insisted that I open it in front of her, waiting to see my reaction. When I opened it, it was a simple pencil with a note saying ‘Happy Christmas Father Julian, and thank you for baptizing my baby brother.’ She told me that she got the pencil from her Girl Scout Troop, and I felt bad seeing her part from this pencil, but a gift is a gift, and I accepted it graciously. But as I started to use this pencil, so many thoughts crossed my mind. This pencil was destined to be used by a young 6-year-old in her First Grade class as she learns how to write and perfect the letters and numbers, and do so many homeworks, and little drawings and who knows what else. But now that I have this pencil, I will be using it to write my Sunday and daily homilies, preparing many talks, writing many articles and letters to family and friends, taking notes and memos, appointments, little messages, and who knows what else. What a change of destiny for a simple pencil! Yet, it’s such an indispensable piece of equipment. Because nothing will ever replace the pencil from our lives, not computers, not fax-machines, not even the mighty pen, who some may say is mightier than the sword. And for those who think that life is too negative, just look at the pencil. It’s 8 inches long, with only one-fourth of an inch eraser. That definitely shows there’s more optimism than pessimism in this world.