You are reading the archives for August 2012.

An Awful Looking Man

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore . We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out-patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. “Why, he’s hardly taller than my 8-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’til morning.”

He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face …… I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments …”

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”
I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch.. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. “No, thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her 5 children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going…

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch.
He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.” He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.”
I told him he was welcome to come again.

And, on his next trip, he arrived a little after 7 in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen! He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. And I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us, there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden.

Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk 3 miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning.
“Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!”

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But, oh!, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear..

I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.
Recently I was visiting a friend, who has a greenhouse, as she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms.. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!”
My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven.

“Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”
All this happened long ago – and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)
Friends are very special. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear and they share a word of praise. Show your friends how much you care. Pass this on, and brighten someone’s day.

The only thing that will happen if you DO pass it on is that someone might smile (because of you).

 

A Memorial Day Story

As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.

I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.

I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying:

‘You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.’ And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine.

He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, ‘Looks like you’re having a problem.’

He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself, and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went I inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, ‘What outfit did you serve with?’

He said that he served with the first Marine Division at Guadalcanal, Pelieliu, and Okinawa.

He had hit three of the worst ones, and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it, and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye’s to his wife.

I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.

For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written: ‘Congressional Medal of Honor Society.’
I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence.

Remember, as we approach another Memorial Day, OLD men like him gave you, and all of us, FREEDOM for America.
Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them.

America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall.

If you don’t stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!

Remember, Freedom isn’t Free. Thousands have paid the price, so that you can enjoy what you have today.
LET’S DO THIS: JUST 19 WORDS:
GOD OUR FATHER, WALK THROUGH MY HOUSE AND TAKE AWAY ALL MY WORRIES; AND PLEASE WATCH OVER AND HEAL MY FAMILY; AND PLEASE PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS, AND WATCH OVER OUR TROOPS, WHO ARE DEFENDING THOSE FREEDOMS. AMEN

 

 

Do you remember the story?

Do you recall when you learned what “Hot” was?

When we are young and inexperienced our parents do their best to keep us safe.

Mom will caution us to ‘stay away from the stove, it’s hot!’ or the radiator or light-bulb…

But, we do not have the reference or experience of what hot is!

So at some point we touch a hot pot, or spoon a hot mouthful of food… now we have a reference.

Over time we begin to understand the nuances of hot, flame, even burns.

 

But do you remember the experience or story itself, yourself, your memories of learning about hot?

Most of us do not.

What we remember, and carry with us always is the respect of hot, fire, flame.

As though it is an instinct, we avoid the types of hot that could cause physical harm and pain.

 

As you journey through this life, remember, it is not necessarily the “story” which is of import, but the lessons gained, and how it serves our experiences in life.

This is how we release attachments.

This is how we heal often, by forgetting, absorbing and becoming stronger, more aware.

 

Sometimes stories define us.

Sometimes stories refine us.

How to Make a Wedding Toast

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