Posts Tagged ‘hearts’

THE OLD FISHERMAN – an inspirational story

June 28, 2011

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 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 ’till 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 over-sized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five 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 prefaced 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 was thankful for 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 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 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 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 illness 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…

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. There’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.’

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.

Because of Love – A True Story

January 23, 2010

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where their elderly parents dwelt with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks “Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?”

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, “Yes, I could use a pair of new boots. His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied softly, “We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.

Brokenly he whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest; looking up to the top of the hill the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top-most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy.  Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down about the “Old One” close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new year’s crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift—

Because of love. Only because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

Willy Eagle

This is an inspirational message sent to a small group of people. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.


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