Editor’s Note: This article was written in April 2010 but its message continues to be relevant today…..

A friend at dinner last night expressed concern that coworkers who were on assignment in Europe might not be able to get home when their job was done. Of course, the concern was related to the shutdown of European air travel for the past few days. As we all know, it’s dangerous for the airplanes to fly because their engines might be damaged by ash in the air. The ash is there because of a volcano in Iceland that erupted last week. The volcano erupted because it rests on the highly volatile boundary between the Eurasian and North American continental plates that rubbed together… so because two continental plates are rubbing, workers might have to stay longer in Europe.

The good news is it looks like air travel will resume tomorrow in most areas of Europe. So maybe those workers on assignment will make it home after all on time.

The whole sequence of events called to mind the old poem “For Want of a Nail “. Here it is in case you don’t remember it:

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The poem, of course, is pointing out how small things can have a big impact. Therefore choose wisely, even on the so-called small things. The same point is made whenever someone invokes “the butterfly effect”… that is, a butterfly in South America by flapping its wings created a hurricane in North America… or any similar sequence. None of this is to imply that two continental plates rubbing together is really a “small thing” nor that we have any control over the volcano (as the army did in the nail of the horseshoe). For me the point is beyond size… it’s how any event anywhere creates a chain reaction with consequences that can often be unanticipated. Hence, you may never know what might happen ultimately based on any event, but where you have control you certainly want to take into account how things are interrelated.

So what can we learn from this?

It’s a reminder that everything is connected.

It’s a reminder that everything we do and say can create a chain reaction.

It’s a reminder that as we seek to have peace and harmony on planet Earth, we must ensure that even though we may never know the ultimate impact of our words and actions that we seek to make choices that are most likely to head in that direction.

It’s a reminder of how interrelated all of our countries are….Iceland volcanoes, European travel, American workers….the impact of events knows no boundaries!

And…..we might also hold in our thoughts that everyone who was impacted by the volcano or the travel delays is surrounded by love and safety.



Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!