Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The River and One Bottle of Milk

I once heard two fascinating stories, whether fable or truth, I do not know, but both are stories that never leave me, even all these years later.

We all know that life is fragile and often in my world I talk to people who never know what their purpose is or how to handle life storms when they find themselves inside a particular situation so perhaps these stories will linger with you as they did with me.  I never knew the author - they were just stories passed along the way.

The River

A young man was standing by a river, at the top of it, when he saw an old man take his clothes off and plunge headlong into the river and its rushing currents.  The young man, at once was certain that the old man would surely die so he raced down the hill alongside the river banks with unfailing certainty in his heart that he would find the old man dead at the bottom of the river.  The young man was determined to pull the old man from the river and give him a proper burial.

When the young man arrived at the bottom of the river, imagine his surprise when the old man emerged from the water unharmed.  The young man said, "You jumped into the river currents and surely you should have died, the river is so harsh.  Why didn't you die?"

The old man responded, "If you swim against the river currents, you will allow the river to overtake you and you will surely die.  If you swim with the currents and allow it to take you where you need to go instead of fighting against it, then you will live and go where you are supposed to be and reach your destination."  Then he bowed his head and said, "As in river, so in life."

What are you fighting against in the river of your life?  Are you swimming against the currents fiercely hoping to get where you need to go or are you swimming with the river and allowing it to take you on the journey that is totally yours - and lead you into the place of your purpose and your destiny?  Are you listening to what the river is trying to tell you?

Sometimes a bottle of milk is so much more than it seems.  A lifetime ago, a woman always took time for a young man who knocked on her door selling magazine subscriptions, door-to-door, trying to make a living. She would buy a subscription but every time he knocked on the door, she invited him inside and gave the young man a bottle of milk, insisting that he drink it before he went on his way.

Many years later, that woman, now old, without insurance, became deathly ill, with no means or money with which to pay her bill.  A doctor came in to oversee her care and assured her she should not worry about her hospital bill.  She mended and when it was time to leave the hospital she inquired about what to do regarding her bill.  The woman in charge of accounts said, "I was told to give you this."  She handed the old woman a piece of paper and when she unfolded it, there was her hospital bill and written across it in big bold words, it said, "Paid in full with one bottle of milk."

What we do for others will often come back to us in unexpected ways - when our focus is not so much about self as it is about caring for those around us and meeting their needs in whatever ways we can.  A woman cared enough about a young boy to encourage him and set him on his way with a simple bottle of milk.  Who would've ever thought that the same young man would one day be the doctor to treat her and cancel her bill?

As has often been said, "Pass it on, pay it forward."  Keep your eye on the currents and swim with them, not against them and let the river take you to where you really need to be. And always remember that there is more to a bottle of milk than the contents within it.