Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some things to share

Here's a couple of things that I have received via email lately and I wanted to share them with all of you.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's "dance recital" he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles.""You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part.It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays." "I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.""Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.""Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time." "It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!" You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast." "What brought this on?" she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles.

The Pot God Plants us in.

What a good story!

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

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 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 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)

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