I paused for a long after I read the story. I remember where I sat. I soliloquized on the bamboo bench in front of the mud house as I adjusted for comfort. The strong, dry harmattan wind struggled in vain for the paper in my hand. The sweet fragrance from the rose flower in front of me provided a soothing relief. Here’s the story that I got immersed in – a story of two people with ‘extra large hearts’ and ‘extra large hands’:
“One day a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one dime left and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. The young woman thought he looked hungry, so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” The boy said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit. Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately, he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to the room.
Dressed in his doctor’s gown, he went in to see her and recognized her at once. Dr Kelly went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case. After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, wrote something on the edge and sent the bill to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words, ‘Paid in full with one glass of milk’, Signed – Dr. Howard Kelly.”
Royalty In A Manger!
Was it a curse for Howard Kelly to be born in ‘a manger?’ Should people from humble background be be stigmatized and treated with disdain?
Many people do not racially segregate, yet they still segregate along other lines – financial lines; academic lines; etc. They are people who disdain others not at their level. Recently, I heard someone say, “I have my class and size; I’ve got no time for refracts.” I consider that a haughty brag. While some are born with golden spoons, others are born with silver spoons. And some others are born with wooden shovels. Except those who inherited greatness, it’s appalling how folks soon forget that they weren’t always at the level they currently are. That means progress isn’t an exclusive preserve.
Maybe you’ve been told that ‘you don’t belong’. That’s a fallacious postulation. You’re royalty, even if you are in a manger. If you’ve a lowly beginning, my heart goes out to you. If you’re still struggling to find your beat – to strike the right chord; to break out of your ugly heritage into the future you envisage – my heart goes out to you. You know the colour of deprivation and the smell of degradation.
But despite what you didn’t have and may still not have; and despite what you’ve faced and may still face – you are royalty. Blue blood flows in you. Time is processing you. Seasons are shaping you. Nobody should make you feel bad. Hold your head high. Square your shoulders. Because you are not less than the best. You are royalty even though you may be in a manger now!
It’s OK To Ask.
Howard Kelly teaches us that sometimes it’s alright to ask. Wisely. With dignity. This is not license to constantly pester people with your endless list of problems. I personally do not think it’s out of place to respectfully make a request. To honourably seek for help. I don’t think you should suffocate in your problem. There’s no one on earth who doesn’t have a need. There’s no son of Adam who doesn’t need something from someone. This world runs on the web of relationships. Its systemic effectiveness hinges on the law of give and take, demand and supply. I believe that sharing your challenge with someone is indicative of your strength of character. I counsel you to cremate the deadly hurdle of pride and prejudice. Asking may not be the conventional thing to do, but you’ve got to stretch the boundaries of convention and violate the expectations of the norm. Everyone of us will only fulfill our dreams with the assistance of other people. Asking does not, in any way, make you inferior. It just reinforces the universally accepted truth that we all are needy people. None of us is exclusively complete. It is great humility when people admit that there is a limit to what they can achieve by themselves. As all-sufficient as God is, He can’t fulfill His purposes all by Himself. Howard Kelly, please don’t die in your hunger. Ask for water. You might get a glass of milk instead. Yes, it’s OK to ask!
Benevolence: For Loan or Cost-free?
I know that an eye for an eye will make every one go blind.
But what about freebies for every being in Freetown?
The woman in our story was taught by her mum to never accept pay for kindness. That benevolence should totally be free. That benevolence should not even be loaned. This unknown woman speaks to us all in a very strong tone. She challenges us to emulate her beautiful heart, lovely disposition and pleasant attitude. My heart began to beat faster as I got up from that bamboo bench. I put out lethargic legs, one after another in a sluggish walk, chewing over the story. As I trudged on, I sensed someone walking behind me. But when I looked behind, I would see no one. Then I heard my heart whisper these words: Benevolence should be cost-free; not even for loan.
Immediately, I remembered Harlan Howard’s story:
“My little boy came up to me in the kitchen this evening while I was fixing supper. And he handed me a piece of paper he’d been writing on. And after wiping my hands on my apron, I read it and this is what it said, ‘For mowing the yard – five dollars. For making my own bed this week – one dollar. Going to the store – fifty cents. Playing with little brother while you went to the store – twenty-five cents. Taking out the trash – one dollar. Getting a good report card – five dollars. And for raking the yard – two dollars. Total owed – fourteen seventy-five.’ Well, I looked at him standing there expectantly and a thousand memories flashed through my mind. And so I picked up the pen and, turning the paper over, this is what I wrote, “For nine months I carried you growing inside me – no charge. For the nights I’ve sat up with you, doctored you, prayed for you – no charge. For the time and the tears that you cost through the years – there’s no charge. When you add it all up, the full cost of my love is – no charge. For the nights filled with dread and the worries ahead – no charge. For the advice and knowledge, and the cost of your college – no charge. For the toys, food and clothes; and for wiping your nose – there’s no charge. When you add it all up the full cost of my love is – no charge.
Well, when he finished reading he had great big old tears in his eyes. And he looked up at me and said:
‘Mom, I sure do love you.’ Then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: ‘Paid in full’. So when you add it all up, the cost of real love is – no charge.”
Kindness shouldn’t be for sale.
We Are The World…So Let’s Start Giving!
There are many ways we can do good. It’s all about creating real value to make people and society better. Some people can give scholarship to indigent students. Others can create employment opportunities. Still, some can provide grief, divorce, or financial management support. Or charity to orphans and to various other charitable causes. Communities are in dire need of food banks, clothing, health care, and houses. We can create social value by expending social benefits. Society depends on us to use our time, relationships, and finances to do the utmost possible good. There are many unmet human needs. If we look close enough, we will always see them.
From A Flickering Lamp To A Burning Light…
What interests me the most in that story is the fact that someone who was ready to give up and quit, went ahead to fulfill his dream because a kind-hearted person cared enough to help. This anonymous poet captures the altruism:
“You gave on the way a pleasant smile
And thought no more about it.
It cheered a life that had been dark the while
Which might have been wrecked without it.
And so for that smile that was given there,
You’ll have a reward sometime-somewhere.
You spoke one day a cheering word,
And passed to other duties.
It cheered a heart; new promise stirred
And painted a life with beauties.
And so for that word of golden cheer,
You’ll have a reward sometime-somewhere.
You lent a hand to a fallen one;
Lift in love was given.
You saved a soul when hope was gone…
And, so for that help you proffered there,
You’ll have a reward sometime-somewhere”.
Wanted Now: Caring Hearts and Helping Hands. Sign up where you live. Begin there.
“Yes Sir. Absolutely. But can I go beyond the borders within which I live? Permitted”
“Of course. Permission completely granted.”
You could be the unknown woman in our story.
So, will you give a glass of milk to Howard Kelly today?
In what ways have you created social value? How have you made people better? How have your Big Heart and Wide Hands taken you from success to significance? Please make your comments here.