|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 outpatients 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 '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
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.
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 would be nice
and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4 a.m., and I wondered what time he had to get up in
order to do this for us.
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)
Friends are very special. They make you smile and
encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear and they share a word of praise. Show your
friends how much you care.