THE OLD DENTED BUCKET

Read this years ago and received it in an e-mail today!  Just had to share.  Why should I be the only one with tears in my eyes!  Hugs to you all!




 

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
  










22 comments:

Mari said...

What a touching story! I'm so glad you shared it - I've got tears in my eyes too. This sure teaches a few things.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wonderful story, Karin... I had not read this one before. We people do tend to look at someone different from us in a different light... I know that, one time when a dirty looking man came to our church worship service, people welcomed him with open arms. That is what Jesus would have done.... Loved that story.

Hugs,
Betsy

RetroRocketGal said...

Very touching story. Lovely conclusion.

George said...

You're not the only one with tears in their eyes. Thanks for sharing a beautiful post with a wonderful lesson.

Ginny said...

I read a lot of this type of thing, but haven't read this one, and I loved it!!!

Bernie said...

What a wonderfuk story with a beautiful message. (I say with tears in my eyes)......:-)Hugs

pam said...

Amen. Sweet abiding dear Karin!

NCmountainwoman said...

Great reminder for all of us.

Anonymous said...

So very touching and true. Thank you for sharing, Karin.
Mrs. M Lane

Velvet Over Steel said...

WOW I have never read this story before. It is by far the Best I've read in a long time and so needed today!!! My youngest son has Asperger's and can't find a job. He graduated both high school and culinary school at a community college with honors. The sweetest young man you will ever meet and yet many people act like he has the plage. I breaks my heart!! I ran into a 'mentor' of his from several years ago and told him how great my son was doing, esp. for finding a job, but that he volunteered at the local homeless shelter several days a week in the kitchen. I said I felt that developmentally he would be 'caught' up in just a couple more years. This 'man' said 'well he'll never be 'normal'. He suddenly reminded me why I found a new mentor for my son! It's absolutely amazing how some people can not realize that they could 'different' or have a child or grandchild 'different' someday. And how would they want them treated??

I so loved this story and will share it with my son tonight. Which will lead to a long conversation about 'people' I am sure. Thank you for sharing, Karin!!! May I share this sometime on my blog? Please let me know.

HUGS & BLESSINGS,
~Coreen

Karin said...

Of course you may share Coreen - It's from an e-mail and had no author's name attached so that I could give proper credit.

We have 2 Asperger grands and know the frustration their parents have that goes with raising them - but God has a wonderful plan for their lives! Who is to say what is 'normal'? Each one of us is unique - made by God for a purpose!

Connie Arnold said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful post, Karin, with the valuable lesson it teaches! We do need to look past the outward appearance and so often find a special blessing that way, as you did.

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Tears indeed!!! I have them running down my cheeks as I type.

What a heart breaking, heart warming post. If only all people were like him. It isn't what's on the outside, but the inside.


My Week's Summary & Shadow Shot

Karen said...

I cannot tell you how much this story meant to me. Absolutely beautiful! God bless you.

Douglas Dahl said...

Wow. Wonderful post. Very touching. Thank you.

Doris Sturm said...

Oh, that was a very heartwarming, lovely story and yes, indeed, that little person's soul must've been a mighty towering flower in God's garden ;-)

Shug said...

Hi Karin..
I knew when I read the title of your post, that this was going to be good. So touching and yet the truth speaks strongly throuout this story. It has touched my heart today....Have you ever had a day when you knew you just needed to cry...No particular reason, just knew that the tears were there? Today has been this day for me. Honestly....thanks for making me cry and thanks for making me feel better...
Hugs dear lady...
shug

Anneliese said...

Thank you for this wonderful story! It reminds me of welcoming strangers, not knowing that we may be entertaining angels in disguise.

Marg said...

A wonderful story...and we've had so many opportunities similar only because we listened to the tiny voice of God in our hearts and have opened up our home. I still love to do that even though it takes energy...but those are the real blessings that make life worthwhile for me.

Glenda said...

Beautiful, beautiful story so full of truth! Just think how different our world would be if we all truly look past appearance and first impressions and see through Jesus' eyes. I'd like to share this with others; thanks for posting.

Marlene said...

I loved this story. Thanks for sharing it :)

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