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Tales of Wisdom
The Old Fisherman
The Old Fisherman
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January 2, 2017 02:14 AM
January 1, 2017
January 1, 1970
The Old Fisherman
Adam's house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of a Hospital . They lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic. One evening as Adam's wife was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. Adam opened it to see a truly awful looking man.
"Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," Adam thought as he stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was the man's 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 Adam 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 Adam hesitated, but the man's next words convinced him: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."
Adam told him they would find him a bed. Adam went inside and finished getting supper. When they were ready, Adam asked the old man if he would join them. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.
When they had finished the dishes, Adam went out on the porch to talk with him for 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 Adam he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five 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 Allah for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked Allah for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, Adam put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When Adam 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." Adam told him he was welcome to come again.
And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish Adam had ever seen. He said he had shucked it that morning before he left so that it'd be nice and fresh. Adam knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for them.
In the years he came to stay overnight with Adam there was never a time that he did not bring them fish or vegetables from his garden. Other times Adam received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish packed in a box of fresh spinach, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.
When Adam received these little remembrances, he often thought of a comment their 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 Adam did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness' would have been easier to bear. Adam knew his family always would be grateful to have known him; from him they learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to Allah.
Recently Adam was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, As he showed him his flowers, they came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to Adam's great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. Adam thought to himself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!" His friend changed his mind. "I ran short of pots," he 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."
He must have wondered why Adam laughed so delightedly, but Adam was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," Allah 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 Allah's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
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