The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hand trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky  hands and failing eyesight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about Dad,” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.” So, the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone, while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled some food. The four-year-old watched all this in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. “What are you making?” he asked the child sweetly. And just as sweetly, the boy answered, “I’m making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food in when I grow up.”

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless, then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no words were spoken, they knew what must be done.

That evening, the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family, and neither the husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, when milk was spilled, or when the tablecloth was soiled.

“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them… ” (Matthew 7:120).

Elmo Garrett
via Livingston church of Christ
Livingston, TN
Bulletin Digest (March 2006)

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