... LIFE ENRICHMENT STORIES ...

Volume Three 

Story One . . . The Old Fisherman   

Story Two . . . The Genuine Pearls  

Story Three . . . The Weight of Prayer

Story Four . . . The Empty Chair

 

Volume One            Volume Two

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to these pages.

... Story One ...

- The Old Fisherman -

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of
John 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, as 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 long 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 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 favour, 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.

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 4:00 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 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 neighbour 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 see as man sees; for man looks at the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7.

- author unknown -

... Story Two ...

- The Genuine Pearls -

Jenny was a bright-eyed, pretty five-year-old girl.  One day when she
and her mother were checking out at the grocery store, Jenny saw a
plastic pearl necklace priced at $2.50.  How she wanted that necklace,
and when she asked her mother if she would buy it for her, her mother
said, "Well, it is a pretty necklace, but it costs an awful lot of money.
I'll tell you what.  I'll buy you the necklace, and when we get home we
can make up a list of chores that you can do to pay for the necklace.  And
don't forget that for your birthday Grandma just might give you a whole
dollar bill, too.  Okay?"  Jenny agreed, and her mother bought the pearl
necklace for her.

Jenny worked on her chores very hard every day, and sure enough,
her grandma gave her a brand new dollar bill for her birthday.  Soon
Jenny had paid off the pearls.  How Jenny loved those pearls.  She wore
them everywhere-to kindergarten, bed and when she went out with her
mother to run errands. The only time she didn't wear them was in the
shower-her mother had told her that they would turn her neck green!  

Now Jenny had a very loving daddy.  When Jenny went to bed, he would
get up from his favorite chair every night and read Jenny her favorite
story.  One night when he finished the story, he said, "Jenny, do you
love me?"  "Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you," the little girl said.  "Well,
then, give me your pearls."  "Oh! Daddy, not my pearls!" Jenny said.  "But
you can have Rosie, my favorite doll.  Remember her?  You gave her to me
last year for my birthday.  And you can have her tea party outfit, too.
Okay?"  "Oh no, darling, that's okay." Her father brushed her cheek with
a kiss.  "Good night, little one."  

A week later, her father once again asked Jenny after her story, "Do you
love me?"  "Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you."  "Well, then, give me
your pearls."  "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls!  But you can have Ribbons, my
toy horse.  Do you remember her?  She's my favorite.  Her hair is so soft,
and you can play with it and braid it and everything.  You can have Ribbons
if you want her, Daddy," the little girl said to her father.  "No, that's okay,"
her father said and brushed her cheek again with a kiss.  "God bless you,
little one.  Sweet dreams."  

Several days later, when Jenny's father came in to read her a story, Jenny
was sitting on her bed and her lip was trembling.  "Here, Daddy," she said,
and held out her hand. She opened it and her beloved pearl necklace was
inside.  She let it slip into her father's hand.  With one hand her father held
the plastic pearls and with the other he pulled out of his pocket a blue
velvet box.  Inside of the box were real, genuine, beautiful pearls. He had
had them all along.  He was waiting for Jenny to give up the cheap stuff so
he could give her the real thing.  

So it is with our Heavenly Father.  He is waiting for us to give up the cheap
things in our lives so he can give us beautiful treasure.  Isn't God good?  

What are you holding on to that is not genuine that God would have you
to give up, so He could give you the genuine?
 

- author unknown -

... Story Three ...

- The Weight of Prayer -

A poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a
grocery store.  She approached the owner of the store in a most humble
manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries.  She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.  The grocer scoffed at her and requested
that she leave his store.  Visualizing the family needs, she said, "Please sir,
I will bring you the money just as soon as I can."  The grocer told her he
could not give her credit, as she did not have a charge account at his store.

Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two.  The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family.  The grocer said
to the lady in a very reluctant voice, "Do you have a grocery list?"  She
replied, "Yes sir."  "Ok," he said, "Put your grocery list on the scales and
whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries."

The woman hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into
her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it.  She
then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed.
The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the
scales went down and stayed down.

The grocer staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, "I can't believe it."  The customer smiled and the grocer
started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales.  The scales
did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them
until the scales would hold no more.

The grocer stood there in utter disgust.  Finally, he grabbed the piece of
paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement.  It was
not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said - Dear Lord, You know my
needs and I am leaving this in Your Hands.  The grocer gave her the
groceries that he had gathered and placed on the scales and stood in
stunned silence.  She thanked him and left the store.
  The customer
handed a fifty dollar bill to the grocer as he said, "It was worth every
penny of it."  

It was sometime later that the grocer discovered the scales were broken, therefore only God knows how much a prayer weighs.

- author unknown -

... Story Four ...

- The Empty Chair -

A man's daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her
father.  When the priest arrived, he found her father laying in bed with
his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed.
The priest assumed that the elderly man had been informed of his visit.
"I guess you were expecting me," he said.  "No, who are you?" asked
the man.  "I'm the new associate at your parish," replied the priest.
"When I saw the empty chair, I thought you knew I was coming."
"Oh yeah, the chair," mused the bedridden man.  

"Would you mind closing the door?"  Puzzled, the priest shut the door.
"I've never told anyone this, not even my daughter." said the elderly man.
"All my life I have never known how to pray.  At the Sunday Mass I would
hear the priest talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head."
"So I abandoned any attempt at prayer, until one day about four years
ago when my best friend said to me, "John, prayer is just a simple matter
of having a conversation with God.  Here's what I suggest, sit down on a
chair and then place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see the
Lord sitting in that empty chair.  It's not spooky because He promised, I'll
be with you always."  "Then just speak to Him and listen in the same way
you're doing with me right now."  "So, I tried it and I've liked it so much
that I do it a couple of hours every day.  I'm careful, though because if
my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd send me off to the
funny farm.

The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the man to
continue doing what he had been doing.  Then he prayed with him and
anointed him with oil and left.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her father had
died that afternoon.  "Did he seem to die in peace?" he asked.  "Yes,
when I left the house around two o'clock,  he called me over to his bed-
side, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek.  When
I returned home from the store an hour later, I found him dead.  But there
was some thing strange.  In fact, beyond strange - kinda weird.  Apparently,
just before he died, he leaned over and rested his head on an empty chair
beside his bed."  
  

- author unknown -

      

 

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