So many people seem to care only about themselves. It gets harder and more difficult to find
people who actually care about others. We sometimes lose perspective of
the difference we can make, when we care more of our giving and care
less of what we take.
Sometimes it takes a minute to find some special people, an
hour to appreciate them, a day to love them but then an entire life to
Here's a beautiufl story of
an act of kindness that we can learn from. As the story goes, our house was directly
across the street from the clinic entrance of the Johns Hopkins Hospital
in Baltimore. We lived dowwntairs 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 eight-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, not 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 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 five children, and his wife, 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 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 seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big
fish and a quart of the largest oysters I have 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 carfully
washed. Knowing that he must walk three 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
friends, 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 broken pot. 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
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.
By Tim Pedrosa
Some people come into our
lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our
hearts. And we are never, ever the