The Wooden Bowl

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Dear Members,

I wish I had written this story as it really struck a chord in my heart, and while the author is anonymous, I hope you find value in it like I did. After not hearing anything from my brother in quite awhile, I was surprised to get this story attached to an e-mail he sent me just a bit ago. Surprising what a Sunday afternoon will bring a person.

Blessings of Peace,

The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult.. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

'We must do something about father,' said the son. 'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.

He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?'

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ' The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, .... that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. .... that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day,the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. While making a note about my observations, I also realized what else I've learned.

I've learned...

.... that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life.'

.... that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

.... that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

.... that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will

.... that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

.... that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

.... that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

.... that I still have a lot to learn.

.... that you should pass this on to everyone you care about. I just did!

This is to all of you here on the forum, young and old, friend and not yet met, newbie and long term, because you truly do mean something to me, I pray that each of you find happiness in Life.

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The fact that my brother read it and clicked the "forward button" was cause enough for celebration here. In his accompanying e-mail he mentioned the "author unknown" and his friend got it from a long line of forwards dating back to 2006...the e-mail was one of those friendship candle pass along things attached.

Anyway, I'm certain it has indeed been around awhile and that many folks here probably have seen it before. However, whether new or old to, like you said Pastor Dave, it does tug at the heart.


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Thank you again for sharing this piece. It always touches me, but lately I have seen it posted discreetly where the servers can see it at the assisted living facility where I work. It definitely hits home there, especially in "my" dining room, as I work exclusively with residents with dementia and Alzheimer's. On any given meal easily one gallon of assorted juice spills and a few pounds of dropped food hit the floor. Some residents notice and are extremely self conscious, especially when a cup is knocked over or flatware falls off the table (with the resulting metalic ring that is jarring enough to most, but worse for those with hearing aids turned up to catch the last bits of conversation they can still hear).

Is it always easy to be nurturing and loving when there is so much mess to clean at each meal? I am human it can drive me "up the wall" some days. But I remember that person is where my grandparents and father were at one time and even my own self had been there following a stroke. I smile as I wipe up the juice and tell the residents that "it's okay, I brought an extra towel today," or "don't give it a thought - I have to sweep and mop the same amount of floor, be it clean or dirty." They smile and I feel better that they have been spared embarassment.

It took me a while to realize that the Almighty has not put me in a pulpit to be a minister. He needed me to humble myself to serving people who are often seen as the "least" of us and no longer useful. I may not be anointing feet with precious oil, but it is a necessary calling. Sometimes it is hard to give up the human vanity of wanting to be a "glory minister" with a nice church, a happy flock and pretty linen on the altar. It takes wise eyes to be able to see the beauty in ministering to the forgotten, the dirty, the poor and the lost. I am thankful I get the opportunity so often.

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